2008 IT Forecast Bright for College Grads, Passive Seekers

It’s that time of year. With the advent of the new calendar, many IT professionals begin to plan for career growth, researching new job opportunities and plotting the best course of action to promote change in 2008.

Luckily for this year’s college grads — not to mention their financially beleaguered parents — after four years of hard work and tuition payments, the job front suggests the possibility of a return on that academic investment.

“Employers have told us they are positive about their hiring plans for this year’s graduates, and they report that they’re seeing more competition for the best new graduates,” said Andrea Koncz, employment information manager for the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

Georgia Tech’s 2007 job fair was the largest in 25 years, with 440 national and international companies attending, according to the school’s Director of Career Services, Ralph Mobley.

“We’ve been really busy with recruiters this fall. The numbers are up over last year, and the job market is quite good,” he said. “When the job market gets good, companies pay more to attract top talent. The competition causes salaries to rise.”

Those with engineering and computer science degrees are near the top of the salary chart, and Mobley said he’s not surprised.

“With the possible exception of the telecommunications industry, which recently went through mergers, we’ve seen all industries — energy, engineering, information technology, defense, etc. — recruiting our engineers. Computer engineers and computer science majors are running neck and neck in demand,” Mobley said.

In an effort to distinguish themselves amid intense competition, employers are also planning to offer more signing bonuses in 2008 in an attempt to sweeten recruiting offers. According to the recent NACE Job Outlook 2008 survey, employers vying for new college graduates are planning to increase signing bonuses by 25 percent from a year ago.

Candidate-focused job site Jobfox also reported that many companies foresee increased recruiting and staffing activity in 2008. Further, employers are looking in new places for top candidates.

As baby boomers steadily retire from the workplace, companies are feeling pressure to rethink recruiting strategies for 2008 and beyond, and employers are looking for intelligent ways to source high achievers, said Rob McGovern, the CEO of Jobfox and creator of CareerBuilder.

“Recruiting activities must continue to expand because top candidates — those with high-level skills — are instrumental to creating sustainable competitive advantages,” McGovern said. “Top talent is even more critical in a down economy.”

More than 250 recruiters surveyed in the poll said traditional recruiting channels — often aimed at active seekers — aren’t getting the job done. Some 69 percent of respondents said 90 percent or more of the resumes they reviewed from traditional online sources, such as CareerBuilder, Monster and Craigslist, are not qualified enough to pursue further.

Thus, recruiters are focusing new efforts on passive job seekers, such as retirees and stay-at-home parents, as potential new hires.

“The advanced professional — especially if they have proven management and communication skills — will remain in the driver’s seat in 2008,” McGovern said.

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Kellye Whitney

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