This year, college grads can't just waltz into a job

With the shutdown of Internet start-ups and a slowdown in the economy, a glut of people with experience in high-tech industries are competing for available jobs, leaving fewer opportunities for recent graduates.

As a result, recruiters show up at campus job fairs with fewer jobs. "Last year you could have had a degree in low demand, a lousy grade-point average, and bad interpersonal skills, and still get a job," says Mimi Collins, a spokeswoman for the National Association of Colleges and Employers. "But that's not the way it is anymore."

Career counselors say some students are so confident about the prospects of easily landing a job, they aren't even bothering to meet with recruiters.

[In fact, 30 percent of students expect to have four or more job offers by the time they graduate, according to a survey by Jobtrack.com.]

"They should be worried, but I don't think it's caught up to them yet," says Carol Lyons, dean of career services at Northeastern University in Boston.

Several of Lyons's regular recruiters canceled this year because of hiring freezes and cutbacks, she said, while others pulled out at the last minute because of low student interest.

"Until now, they knew if they missed an interview, there would be another one coming along," says Donna Goldfeder, director of career services at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. "But they can't rely on us that way anymore."

Career counselors say much of the confidence students are feeling stems from watching their older classmates have no trouble landing jobs last year.

"It's easy for these kids to have their heads in the sand because they haven't seen this on campus yet," says Ms. Goldfeder. "They're going to have to network themselves now, and do more than just rely on us, but they don't seem to understand that yet."

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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