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What Companies Are Looking for in This Year's Graduates

What Companies Are Looking for in This Year's Graduates
College graduates with college degrees will be the most sought after this year. / Credit: College Graduates image via Shutterstock

College graduates with a business degree should have a leg up on their peers when it comes to finding a job, new research shows.

Grads with business and technical majors will be the most sought after when they hit the job market this summer, according to a study from CareerBuilder and CareerRookie.com. Specifically, 39 percent of employers will be looking for recent graduates with a business background, while 28 percent will seek candidates with a computer and information sciences degree.

Math and statistics, health professions and related clinical sciences, communication technologies, engineering technologies, education, liberal arts, science technologies, communication and journalism are the other majors employers will be looking for most in new hires. [Smart Job Search Tips for the Class of 2014]

The research shows that overall, 57 percent of employers plan to hire new college graduates this year, up from 53 percent last year and 44 percent in 2010.  

Despite their hiring plans, not all companies believe recent college graduates are ready for the real world. The study revealed that nearly 25 percent of employers think academic institutions are not adequately preparing students for positions needed within their organizations. 

Participants who said students are not adequately prepared for the workforce were in roles tied to customer service, public relations/communications, business development, sales, general office functions and IT.

The reasons they cited for the lack of preparation included the following: there is toomuch emphasis on book learning instead of real-world learning, entry-level roles are becoming more complex, there is not enough focus on internships and apprenticeships, and technology is changing too quickly for academics to keep up.

"The vast majority of employers feel that the skills and knowledge base students gain at academic institutions are aligned with their company needs, but nearly one in four sense a disconnect," said Brent Rasmussen, president of CareerBuilder North America. "As roles within organizations grow more complex and demand for certain degrees outpaces graduation rates, there is an opportunity for employers to work more closely with schools to help guide learning experiences for the next generation of workers."

To help this year's crop of graduates, CareerRookie.com offered several tips for landing a job:

  • There's no such thing as too much education. While the thought of more classes after graduation may not be at the top of first-time job seekers' minds, it may help them secure employment. Two-thirds of employers said they'd be more likely to hire someone who supplemented traditional coursework with Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), and 54 percent would consider hiring someone whose primary source of education was MOOCs.
  • Experience can come from everywhere. While many recent graduates are intimidated by their supposed lack of experience when entering the workforce, they may be overlooking experiences some employers would consider relevant. Beyond just previous jobs and internships, useful experience can come from classwork, volunteering and extracurricular activities as well.
  • Social networking can be professional networking. Most college students are well versed in networking online, which can be incredibly helpful when searching for a job. However, as with social networking, creating a strong professional network requires real-world interaction. A good in-person connection followed by an online follow-up can leave a more lasting impression than the digital connection alone.

The study was based on surveys of 2,138 hiring managers and human resources professionals across a variety of industries and company sizes.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer who has nearly 15 years' experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.