The common denominator these days among the job-seeking students walking through Tim Stiles’ door appears to be a frown.
These are not good times to be graduating from college and looking for a job. Stiles, associate director of UNC Chapel Hill’s career services office, is tasked with advising these frustrated students.
It isn’t easy. I gave Stiles a call to find out what the landscape is like right now.
It’s not so rosy, he reports.
Fewer recruiters are coming to campus, and fewer interviews are being set up with students. Jobs in finance, right in the wheelhouse for so many UNC-CH students graduating from the university’s business programs, are scarce. Banks are too busy being bailed out to hire. Some companies with openings are accepting applications but aren’t spending the money to send recruiting teams to campuses.
“Some students are really frustrated and angry,” Stiles said. “Some of my business majors truly have tried and have nothing to show for it.”
While fewer recruiters are coming to campus, many still make at least an appearance, show the flag, maintain a presence. So the recession’s real residue here can be found in the number of interviews scheduled; In the fall of 2007, companies conducted more than 2,400 interviews with UNC-CH students; this past fall, that number dropped to around 2,000, a notable slide. Fall is generally the hottest time of the year for recruitment.
For students, it’s reality-check time, Stiles says. When times are good, top students can be choosy, picking among high-paying jobs based on salary, job description and location. But now, job-seekers should be less selective, Stiles says. Be willing to move for work, or perhaps broaden your parameters and be open to work in industries other than what you’ve focused on.
One example: The Aldi supermarket chain offers entry-level pay of $70,000 for grocery store managers. The catch is that these employees manage not 1 but often 3 small stores. It’s a lot of work, Stiles said, but the experience comes fast and wide - human resources, marketing, sales, management.
Consulting firms are also still hiring employees to do contract work, and there are temporary jobs out there as well, Stiles said. These are known as “bridge jobs.” You may not want to do it forever, but: “For students with loans coming due, you have to look at that as an alternative,” he said.
There is still work out there in health care, accounting and teaching, Stiles adds.
“There are some industries still doing well,” he told me. “I don’t want to give the impression that it’s coming to a grinding halt.”