Job outlook bleak for graduates

By Gus Bode

The march performed during the ceremonial “Pomp and Circumstance” is supposed to lead graduates to a superior state. Instead, many are finding themselves in the same situation they were in prior to obtaining their degree – hoping to find a career.

While the destination after the completion of college used to consist of the ride to the location of their new career, the new ride often takes students right back to where they started, at home. An unsteady job market has left many graduates not with a paycheck from their first career, but merely a diploma and hope for a career.

A recent survey performed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that 60 percent of employers said they would be hiring less college graduates than the previous year. Even more disturbing is, according to a survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a 10-percent increase in unemployment for people ages 20-24.


“It’s been about the same [for graduating SIUC students], but it’s a little more competitive than it was this time last year,” Associate Director of Career Services Marilyn DeTomasi said. “There’s a lot of cutting back, streamlining and a lot of companies aren’t in a growth mode, because the economy is not in a growth mode.”

While there is no way for recent graduates to personally combat the struggling economy, there are means of increasing the odds of being hired out of college.

“It all depends on your effort in advance,” DeTomasi said. “A lot of students feel like they should wait until they graduate to look for a job, but you should start in January. The longer they wait, the lower success their success rate will be.”

DeTomasi said that it is also important that students preparing to enter the job market possess skills in a variety of areas.

“It’s always important that a person have the ability to multi-task,” she said. “In addition to specific job requirements, which will vary, communication skills are important across any field, both verbal and written.”

Chris Pearson, an outreach coordinator in the College of Engineering, emphasized the importance of superior communication skills, as well as experience in the field students are planning to enter.

According to hiring in the area of engineering and other manufacturing sectors are down by 8.5 percent. Pearson said one way to for graduates to combat this trend is to gain internships, which help to get your foot in the door.


“A lot of jobs in engineering require internships as well as an education,” Pearson said. “Cooperative internships usually move people right into a job. People who don’t get these internships are going to have to compete with students who already have ties with the employer. They’re not required, but they’re beneficial.”

While some fields are experiencing decreases in hiring, others are seeing the number of available jobs in their area increase.

Hires in health care administrative support and education have risen considerably despite declining markets in other areas.

Associate Dean for Teaching Education John McIntyre said the increase in education is understandable.

“The main reason is the grain of the profession,” McIntyre said. “A lot of teachers retire and have to be replaced.”

McIntyre said that Illinois is an “exporter” when it comes to teaching. That is, students who receive their degrees in education do not typically perform the task in Illinois but instead venture to other states to teach. He said that it is important for anyone entering the field to be ready and willing to travel to another location for work.

Students in any field should be prepared to travel to other locations where the job market is more desirable. According to job site, five states – Texas, Florida, New York, California and Illinois – have the most availability, in general, as far as hiring is concerned.

Although there is no guaranteed formula for turning one’s diploma into a career, there are certain steps, according to, such as volunteering, networking and preparation, which will increase graduates’ chances of success.

DeTomasi also emphasized the importance of not assuming a degree will ensure you a job.

“A degree alone won’t get you a job; it depends on your skills,” she said. “Students should think seriously about what they want to do during their freshman year. They should always remember if they need help, they can stop by our office any time.”

Reporter Jessica Yorama can be reached at [email protected]