'Best market in years' to greet graduates

Good news, Class of 2015: The job market, according to SF State hiring and employment experts, is looking up.

In fact, firms are expected to hire 9.6 percent more graduates this year than in 2014, according to the most recent report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). This increase indicates, according to Professor of Management John Sullivan, that the "power” in the recruiting relationship has shifted back to job seekers.

But the good news comes with some caveats.

A photo of a resume"Unfortunately, even though the chances of getting a professional job are higher, salaries are increasing slowly. Because rents in the Bay Area are skyrocketing, graduates that land jobs will still have to struggle to make ends meet, ” said Sullivan, who has been called the "Michael Jordan of hiring.”

And although the job market is more promising, students must still do the hard work of networking and building good resumes to ensure they get noticed, said Associate Professor of Economics Anoshua Chaudhuri.

"Even though there are many, many baby boomers retiring each day creating job vacancies, there are also many older individuals who have gone back into the job market,” she said. "Entry-level job-seekers are competing with retired individuals returning to employment.”

Chaudhuri recommends attending job fairs and networking events as well as sending resumes to family and friends to obtain referrals through word of mouth.

Sullivan says the latter is essential. "Referrals from employees are often given a priority because one of the firm's own employees has taken the time to thoroughly assess your capabilities and to refer you,” he said. "So it's important for grads to seek out employees that work at their target firms, and to convince them to make you a referral.”

Sullivan also recommends job seekers take the time to make sure employers can find them by creating a robust LinkedIn profile, posting samples of their work and ideas online and becoming active on social media. "It's also critical that you make sure that all of your online profiles are thoroughly professional and that they don't contain any questionable information or pictures,” he added.

Top skills employers look for in applicants include the ability to make decisions and solve problems, data-related skills, communication skills, leadership, the ability to be a team player and the ability to monetize products. But Sullivan cautions that even the newest job-seekers can not afford to become complacent in their professional development.

"Graduates should think of themselves as an iPhone 6, something that will be out of date in as few as 12 months,” he said. "That means in order to have a successful career, they will have to continually learn, develop and constantly adapt.”

Ultimately, the improving job market represents a great opportunity for graduating students, if they are willing to do the work needed to take advantage.

"This is the best market in years,” Chaudhuri said. "Newly minted graduates will face a lot of competition and need to put their best foot forward.”

-- Jonathan Morales