Congratulations are in order for the class of 2018. Among the gifts arriving soon to graduating college seniors to acknowledge their accomplishments, perhaps none is more welcome than the news that the labor market is the best it’s been in years.
“It’s a really good time to look for a job,” says Paul McDonald, senior executive director at Robert Half human resource consulting firm. “If you work hard at it, you will find a good opportunity.”
The Collegiate Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University expects a 15 percent increase in demand for workers with bachelor’s degrees in 2018, according to its most recent recruiting trends report.
While almost all industries are hiring right now, some have more vacancies than others for entry-level employees. Those with the most job openings for new college graduates in the past 12 months are business, retail, technology, finance and insurance, and transportation and storage, according to data from ZipRecruiter, an online employment marketplace that hosts job advertisements.
Within those industries, some jobs are more in demand than others, too.
Starting salaries haven’t quite caught up with the increased demand for workers, especially in bigger cities where many young people hope to find jobs, says Jenn DeWall, a career coach who works with young professionals.
“Companies haven’t built into their expenses what they have to for cost of living,” she says.
Nearly 39 percent of employers plan to increase starting salaries by about 4 percent in 2018, a smaller proportion than the 48 percent that planned to do so in 2017, according to the Collegiate Employment Research Institute. Sixty-one percent of employers said starting salary offers would remain the same.
However, 13 percent of employers reported that they will offer signing bonuses and 21 percent plan to offer performance bonuses this year, figures much higher than in 2017. Of course, these kinds of one-time payments cost companies less than do permanent salary increases.
What kind of paychecks can new college graduates expect? Data from several sources suggest that typical starting salaries will range from about $40,000 to about $50,000. Smaller companies tend to offer lower salaries than larger companies, and jobs requiring technical skills in computer science, engineering and information technology have higher average salaries than those in other fields.
The median starting salary for the class of 2016 – the most recent year for which data is available – was $48,044, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
At companies with fewer than 50 employees, the average starting salary is $38,127, reports the Collegiate Employment Research Institute. At companies with 50 to 500 employees, that figure is $42,288; companies with 500 to 4,000 employees, $45,143; companies with 4,000 to 25,000, it’s $43,294; and companies with more than 25,000 employees, it’s $55,913.
From October 2017 through March 2018, the median salary offered for entry-level jobs posted to ZipRecruiter ranged from $41,500 to $42,500. It’s important to note, however, that fewer than half of these job postings included salary figures.
Read on to learn which jobs are hot for new college graduates.
Sales and Marketing Representative
Three fields dominate the ZipRecruiter list of job advertisements: Entry-level positions in sales, marketing and customer service have been the most abundant over the past 12 months.
That’s good news for all young job seekers, because sales, marketing and customer service positions are typically within everyone’s reach.
“It’s a very good market for all majors – if you’ve got the soft skills to go with it,” McDonald says.
Plus, no matter what graduates’ long-term career goals are, these jobs are useful gateways to the working world because of the skills they teach, DeWall says.
“You really learn how to develop your relationships and understand how you need to treat someone. That can be applied in any position,” she explains. Additionally, with those jobs, “you’re understanding your entrepreneurial side.”
Among the most popular job titles posted to ZipRecruiter:
- Entry-level sales
- Entry-level marketing
- Customer service representative
- Account manager
- Marketing assistant
Salespeople sell goods and services to individuals or other businesses. Marketing workers analyze the demand for products and services among potential customer pools. Customer service representatives help resolve client complaints.
The Step-by-Step Guide to Career Success
The unemployment rate for accountants is currently quite low, at about 1.9 percent, according to McDonald. That means it’s a good job for graduates to consider if they studied accounting or finance during their university years.
Accountants help individuals, governments and companies comply with financial reporting requirements or keep track of finances for internal purposes, working with tax forms and balance sheets.
Auditing, a career related to accounting, is also a good bet for new graduates; the term “staff auditor” appears frequently in entry-level job openings posted to ZipRecruiter. Auditors make sure organizations manage their finances properly and propose ways to improve the processes for cutting down on financial waste and fraud.
Thanks to the hiring boom, employers need help seeking the right job candidates, managing the application and interview process and training new employees. That makes it a great time to seek work as a recruiting coordinator, McDonald says.
Indeed, the term “entry-level recruiter” ranks among the top 100 most frequently posted open jobs for new graduates on ZipRecruiter.
These human resources workers, sometimes called “head hunters,” look for workers at job fairs and college campuses and using online search platforms liked LinkedIn.
Copywriter and Technical Writer
English, journalism and communications majors may find increased opportunities to put their skills to use as copywriters and technical writers.
“With businesses doing so well today, we’re finding the need for people to write copy on the websites and within the marketing materials that convey the product or service message,” McDonald says.
Copywriters work with marketers and advertisers to communicate a business’s products and services clearly with potential customers. Technical writers work with engineers, scientists, computer programmers and business leaders to translate complicated source material into manuals, articles and how-to guides that readers can comprehend.
It’s no surprise that software developer positions are among the best for recent college graduates. After all, the profession was No. 1 in this year’s U.S. News Best Jobs rankings.
“I don’t think a day goes by that we’re not asked to download an application,” McDonald says.
Software developers use computer code to develop applications and programs for websites and mobile phones. In ZipRecruiter job advertisement data, the title “software test engineer” pops up frequently; these professionals run quality-control checks on programs to make sure they’re working as intended.
15 Financial Steps to Take Your First Year After Graduation
Ace your first year in the “real world.”
It’s so important to start your post-college life on the right financial foot. The money decisions you make today could benefit – or haunt you – in the future. Here are 15 financial steps to take your first year after graduation.
Good credit is a wonderful tool when it comes time to finance a car, home or other major purchase. But a great credit score doesn’t magically materialize overnight. Get in the habit of paying your bills on time and spending well below your credit limit.
Rethink your living style.
Forget the luxurious lifestyle you enjoyed at mom and dad’s house – or even perhaps in the campus dorm room. Your entry-level salary may not go far, so reassess your needs and wants and get serious about living within your means.
Automate savings and other good financial behaviors.
It’s always smart to save for an emergency, retirement and health care expenses. Put those payments on autopilot through your bank and employer, so you never miss one.
Tap employer benefits.
Don’t neglect employer offerings, such as a match on retirement contributions and health care. Neglecting these could mean leaving money on the table.
Pay your bills.
Get in the habit of paying your bills – from your electricity bill to your student loan payment – on time each month. Neglecting this habit can destroy your credit and cost you thousands of dollars in interest down the line.
Learn investing basics.
You’re going to need to choose how to invest the funds in your 401(k), and your boss won’t – and can’t – give you any advice. So, read up on the basics of mutual funds, index funds and target-date funds to identify an investing strategy that works for you.
Scrub your social media profiles.
Those toga party pictures aren’t cute anymore. Clean your social media profiles and make sure to have a LinkedIn account so that professional contacts can find you.
Navigate health insurance.
Think carefully about which health insurance plan is the most affordable option. If you’re younger than 26, your parents may let you stay on their plan. You can also take advantage of employer health coverage or federal offerings.
Repay student loans.
Your first student loan payment is due six months after graduation, typically in November for spring graduates. Examine the repayment plans available to you and prioritize repaying private debt before federal debt, since government-backed loans typically carry more protections.
Don’t job hop – but don’t be too loyal, either.
Changing jobs frequently doesn’t look good on a resume. But switching jobs at the right time can be the fastest way to score a higher salary – and continue working toward your savings, debt payoff and other goals.
Identify a financial goal.
Working toward a financial goal is key to maintaining good money behaviors, like saving and budgeting. Think of what will motivate you – a new car, nice vacation, better apartment – and use it to enact good financial behaviors.
Avoid peer pressure.
While all of your friends may have worked with similar budgets when you were college students, they may have wildly different paychecks as first-year workers. Find inexpensive ways to hang out with your more well-to-do peers in order to socialize … without going broke.