Class of 2005 Cautious about Job Prospects

College Seniors Have Low Expectations of Finding Employment by Graduation

MILWAUKEE, WI--October 27,, the #1 entry level job site, today released its survey results on employment expectations for the Class of 2005. Only 29% of college seniors recently surveyed expect to find employment by graduation. The remaining 71% expect their job search to continue through the summer, for six months or even more following graduation. Some students attribute their low expectations to a poor job market, while others are just waiting to begin their job search until after they graduate.

"While the entry level job market has improved in the past two years, college students are still pessimistic about their prospects," said Brian Krueger, President of "In spite of the general pessimism, there are plenty of entry level jobs available for those who take the time to do the research and utilize the multitude of available resources."

"Students in the Class of 2005 have clearly been impacted by the saturation of news stories on the state of the U.S. economy," says Rachel Moeller, Assistant Career Services Director at Lafayette College. "They have spent most of the last three years hearing about cheating executives, employer layoffs, corporate downsizing, the tanking of tech companies and other such depressing job market information."

Susan Strayer, Assistant Director of Career Services at the John Hopkins University School of Professional Studies in Business and Education points out, "New graduates and even graduate students with significant work experience are using the economy as a crutch. Job seekers should use the state of the economy to change their strategy, but not blame the economy. Candidates should assess the level of effort they're putting into a search before making broad assumptions."

Students are also now competing against more than just their fellow graduating class. "College grads are competing for jobs against experienced displaced workers," explains Lynne Stefanowski, Academic Advisor at the Community College of Denver. "And these numbers of unemployed or displaced workers have been growing."

The economy is not the only factor in the expectations that college seniors have of the current job market. Many students struggle with the "experience" dilemma. Frank Prioleau Jr, who will graduate in December 2004 with a Computer Science degree from Limestone College explains, "I have gotten letters saying I don't have the experience needed. How can I get experience if no one gives me the chance?"

Jan Harris, Director of the Career Services Center at the Community College of Philadelphia points out that many college seniors "have an unrealistic expectation of the type of job for which they are qualified and will be hired. Entry level is sometimes not glamorous, but it is the first step to a new career path. Students often do not understand that this means they may not be crazy about that first job, it may not be exactly what they want, the pay may be low and some of the duties may be tedious."

Career center advisors repeatedly lament the fact that students do not make their job search their first priority. "There is not a universal impetus for resume and job hunting until the last minute," said Mary Banks, Director of the Business Career Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

"The most frustrating excuse that I hear regularly from college seniors is that they are just too busy with their coursework and their athletic teams to spend time on their job search!" said Grady McClendon, Director of Career Services at Webber International University. "In other words, their job search doesn't seem to be very high among their priorities."

Meanwhile, some students just want to take some time off from the pressures of their senior year. UC-Boulder's Banks points out, "Many are anxious to get out and do something unrelated to school, career, major or anything else binding."

The not-surprising result is a delayed entry into the entry level job market.

Not all students are pessimistic about their future employment opportunities. "I actually just got a job last week!" says A. Armstrong, who will graduate with an Engineering degree from the University of Alabama in December of 2004. Armstrong stresses the importance of conducting a broad job search. "Don't rely on just your career center or just one web site. Many companies don't post their job openings on their websites, so find a contact within that particular company and send in your resume and cover letter by mail."

Linda Nguyen, a psychology major at the University of Texas at Dallas, who plans to accept her "post-graduation" job prior to her December 2004 graduation outlines her plans. "Having a job lined up prior to graduation depends on gaining relevant experience before graduation, maintaining at least an average GPA and presenting an achievement-oriented resume," says Nguyen. "I prepared by volunteering with schools prior to my expected graduation date, and letting the school districts know of my interest and qualifications while letting them see examples of my work."

Recommendation from's Krueger? "Dont wait until graduation to start your job search--start early. It's never too early to start your job search. This small step of getting started as early as possible will put you ahead of the competition."

Following are the overall survey results:

Seniors! When do you think you will accept your post graduation job?

  • By Winter Break 10%
  • By Spring Break 7%
  • By Graduation 12%
  • By End of Summer 16%
  • Within Six Months after Graduation 19%
  • More than Six Months after Graduation 36%

The survey was conducted online nationally with more than 2500 participants during September and October, 2004.

About is the #1 entry level job site on the Internet and is the leader in the field of entry level job search. Brian Krueger is President and Founder of and author of the best-selling book for entry level job search, College Grad Job Hunter.

Further information on this news story, including access to the original survey form, as well as additional quotes from employers and college career center directors, may be obtained from the Web site at:

Additional entry level job seeker quotes:

"There are several factors that should be considered when it comes to seeking post graduate employment and the time it takes to do so.

1) where you are trying to secure employment
2) what type of employment you are trying to secure
3) how you plan to seek employment

"I also think that if a person has experience in the field of his/her degree, employment will be easier and faster to find. Even if an individual has a degree in a field other than what he/she is trying to obtain employment in, if there are transferable skills that are relevant to the position he/she is applying for."

Janell Sennette
University of Phoenix
Expected Graduation June, 2005

"I expect to accept my post-graduation job right before I graduate. Currently, I am a psychology major and am working towards a career in education. I prepared by volunteering with schools a year and a half prior to my expected graduation date and letting the school districts know my interest and qualifications while letting them see examples of my work. I believe part of having a job lined up prior to graduation is multifactorial. It heavily depends on gaining relevant experience at least one year before graduation, maintaining at least an average GPA (average defined as 3.0 and above), and presenting an achievement-oriented resume (meaning the resume lists accomplishments rather than the duties a person performed). Every recent graduate that I have personally known that did not find a job upon graduation lacked one or more of the three. Some factors are weighted more than others, depending on the positions. For instance, sales jobs will overlook a low GPA in light of a strong interview. Relevant coursework is helpful, but does not significantly distinguish a student from others in his or her major. For example, business students will all have completed relevant coursework. Furthermore, unless the position is very specialized, such as Engineering or Accounting, the student will be competing with other majors for an entry level position. It is unlikely that the hiring manager will interview a liberal arts major with no coursework in accounting for an accounting position, but the same rules do not apply to positions like marketing or sales."

Linda Nguyen
University of Texas at Dallas
Expected Graduation December, 2004

"Seek professional help when it comes to resume writing. It REALLY works!"

Patrick Wang
University of California Riverside
Graduated Summer, 2004

Additional career center quotes:

"Perhaps some of the 40% don't expect to find a job right away because they don't plan to start looking right away. They might take time off, travel, or deal with personal issues. In conducting outreach to my Class of 2004 this past summer, I found that many (too many...) were having lazy summers. So maybe some weren't being pessimistic about the nature of the economy - instead they knew that they would not be looking right away."

Rob Brooks
Director of Career Services
Mount Ida College

"I'm not surprised by the results. We are a very selective liberal arts college where all seniors are required to do a senior comprehensive project. The public universities in California do not require such a project for graduation. I have found that between this project, course work and social activities, the job search takes a "real" backseat in students' schedule. Often I will ask if they can take at least two hours a week for job research, which we know is not enough time. Thus, many of our seniors completing the end of year survey, state that they are "seeking employment."

Judy Fisher
Director, Career Development Center
Occidental College

"I am guessing that most of the students who indicated not expecting to get a job until at least six months after graduation are just so busy now trying to complete their senior year and all the requirements for graduation, that they are consciously or subconsciously indicating that finding a job is their second priority after completing their requirements for graduation. That first priority [from their current perspective] could delay their getting a job until they can give the effort full priority after their graduation commencement. I am sure the past state of the economy has given them a degree of pessimism, in spite of the more recent positive growth and projections for further growth. But, I truly believe most seniors going into the job market after graduation are just not ready to think about it, much less to begin any work toward it."

Ron Rice
Director of Student Support Services
Bethany College

"Our stars and most diligent job seekers are our international students. They are limited by immigration laws to their one year of practical training (OPT) extended only by a company's offer to sponsor which has proven to be difficult particularly when the job market is also limited. Other students, despite our best efforts to work with them, use poor job search strategies and/or have very limited networks to assist them in their search. We have many first generation college graduates which is a contributing factor to this. In years past, our alums were in a stronger position to be part of our students' networking efforts. Some of them find themselves in a tenuous position with their jobs and uncertain of their own next steps."

Barbara Shulman
Associate Director of Career Services
Manhattanville College

"Many seniors have always chosen to focus on "a great GPA" or on "extra-curriculars" or on "fun" rather than the job search. Always has been the case, but many still expected to have a job delivered by graduation. At many colleges senior year has become more and more academically busy and/or rigorous. Task. Task. Task.

"Many seniors now seek goal clarification and direction from the career office rather than a "a job that fits my major." They want some degree of certainty about themselves before going all out in the job search. They are willing to wait.

John McGrath
Director, Career Service
Providence College

"Being an election year, we're hearing about the state of the American economy daily. Students are more aware than ever of the slow job recovery rate, lack of professional jobs and slow movement in our economic recovery. It's hard to be optimistic about finding a job with that kind of media news every day."

Joanne Schell
Director, Career Center
Thiel College

"I don't see this as bad news at all. They are being very realistic and hopefully they will be able to stay diligent in their job search throughout those 6 months. When the economy first slowed down the engineering and computer science graduates we were working with were almost bitter to see the drastic change in the job opportunities they were seeing versus the one's their classmates from a semester or 2 earlier were seeing. It seemed there was almost an entitlement that had worked so hard and there wasn't anything available to them. There were right! They were competing with the wave of technical employees that had been down sized. We see a definite shift in the hiring market this semester. Many of our December graduates have already accepted full-time opportunities. Many of our co-op and internship employers have full-time positions to offer to their graduating co-ops interns. Hopefully it is a sign of great things to come!"

Joan Smothers
Career Services and Cooperative Education, Director
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
College of Engineering and Applied Science

"I think that what you are being told by the prospective graduates is accurate based on the current market conditions. We have experienced an increase of graduates who choose to attend graduate school after undergraduate graduation as well. I don't think that our graduates are pessimistic about their future, only realistic about the effort and time it will take. There are opportunities out there, flexibility regarding options is required more then ever (i.e., demographic locations)."

Julia Barlow Sherlock
Director, Career Services
Central Michigan University

"The six month waiting period is a time span I've heard quoted since I became employed with Career Services 16 years ago! I really don't think it has changed that much. Granted, when the economy changes, the job search may short or lengthen to a certain extent. We advise our student to begin their job search 6-9 months before graduation, making them aware that a search for a professional position is much different that looking for a part-time job. "It's a full-time job to get a full-time job" is not my quote, but has floated around in career-professional circles for quite awhile."

Sharon Fink
Career Services Asst. Director
Southern Oregon University

"With the downturn in the economy, and especially the high tech job sector over the past few years, I have also felt that many of our graduates have been less than optimistic about finding a job upon graduation. I believe that some of this pessimism and fear has been prompted by occasional headlines that refer to layoffs at larger companies. I still find, however, that the job market with small and mid-sized businesses is relatively healthy. Perhaps graduates need to think outside the box and look towards smaller, mid-sized, and non-traditional companies. There may be less entry level job opportunities out there than there were in the late '90's, but grads should not delay their job search or wait for the ideal job at the risk of becoming "cold" in the eyes of the employer. Rather, students need to be more assertive in their self-marketing efforts and proactively network with people who can help them find a job."

John Petrik
Dean of Career Services
DeVry University

"Some students are taking "time off" from classes to continue part-time jobs, or to travel, or to do service experience. Some are looking to enter graduate school either in September or during January. Some are not sure they are ready to define what they want to do. Some have varied ideas about their choices and perhaps haven't had enough guidance yet to develop their ideas into plans. Some are moving in with their families for either emotional or financial reasons. For whatever the reason, readiness to do the job search seems to be more and more delayed, even though most students are acquiring on-the job skills through part-time work and internships prior to graduation."

Bobbi Koppel, Ph.D.
Director, Career Services
University of Rhode Island

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