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.