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Job outlook still good for Northeastern seniors

There are some indications that the job outlook for Northeastern’s seniors is rosier than it is for the Class of 2009 nationwide. According to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), campus job fairs are taking a big hit this year, largely because employers report plans to hire nearly 22 percent fewer 2009 college graduates this year. These results, which were released recently in NACE’s “Job Outlook 2009 Spring Update” survey, represent a significant drop from original predictions reported in the fall.

And while the number of companies registered at the University’s February career fair did drop from last year’s record 328 to 205, Northeastern’s still ranks as one of the largest career fairs in New England, said Maria Stein, director of the University’s Office of Career Services. Also encouraging is the fact that actual job postings targeted toward Northeastern students only declined by 80 postings from the typical 3,000 the career services office receives a year.

The practical experience Northeastern students gain in co-op jobs and through other experiential learning opportunities continues to be a big draw for companies, reported Stein and Johnson, a trend that is also supported by the NACE 2009 job outlook survey. According to the report, nearly 95 percent of employer respondents indicated that work experience plays a strong role in hiring decisions, with 75 percent saying they look to hire candidates with relevant work experience.

Interestingly, these numbers were nearly identical to the 2008 outlook report when the economy was much better, indicating that experience matters no matter what the job forecast looks like.

Employers who regularly recruit at Northeastern echo the sentiment that experience counts: “[Northeastern graduates] are well-prepared from the start,” said Janelle Godfrey, senior technical recruiter for Microsoft College. “Many graduates can find entering the workforce an overwhelming adjustment, but that is where Northeastern has really given its students a leg up.”

Stein and Johnson report that their office is seeing the greatest decline in job postings for positions in the financial services industry. Their team is trying instead to target openings in insurance companies—following a predicted 5 percent nationwide increase of jobs in that industry, according to a report by the Collegiate Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University.

Johnson reported that on the whole seniors seem undaunted by the tough job market they face, perhaps buoyed by the fact that most have impressive experience under their belts, and by the fact that “The Princeton Review” recently ranked Northeastern No. 1 for job placement. However, he said that he’s warning the Class of 2009 to expect it to take longer to find work. In the meantime, he has this advice: “There are two pillars to the job search—checking the postings online and networking. In this economy, networking is going to be more important than ever.”

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