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Monday, March 21, 2011 - 8:00am

New Graduates Reign In Expectations

Updated: 3 years ago.
The class of 2011 has reason for a little more optimism than the class of 2010. Employers say, they'll be hiring more of them and at higher salaries. But the job market certain isn't booming. And new graduates say, they'll take jobs in retail and sales just to survive. (photo Dive Master King 2000)

The job market for new college graduates appears to be reviving.

After two years of grim forecasts, employers say, they'll be hiring more new grads this year.

But the newly-graduated might have to reign in their expectations.

If there is one-job for a Spanish major out there, Angel Scott wants it.

"Long-term I'm looking for something in community outreach that is in public health," Scott says.

Scott graduated in December from Armstrong Atlantic State University.

Now she's at a campus career fair, dressed sharply, handing out resumes and trying not to think about how many jobs she's applied for.

"Oh, gosh. I've applied for at least 20 or more," Scott says. "I've applied within Georgia, Texas, some in Florida and some international."

Scott says, she's surprised by a recent poll.

The National Assocation of Colleges and Employers says, across the nation, companies expect to hire 13% more new college graduates this year.

In the South, the prediction is 8%.

Scott questions the good news.

"I would say, 'In what area?'" Scott says. "That makes all the difference. What's the field?"

Elizabeth Wilson is Armstrong's career placement officer.

"We see great growth in manufacturing, engineering, accounting, finance," Wilson says.

She sees improving signs in the economy and says they're showing up in Savannah's job market.

"We do maintain an online job posting board and typically we have about a 100 postings at a time," Wilson says. "Right now, we have upwards of 200. So, that's certainly an increase for us."

And Wilson says more employers are signing up for the school's career fairs.

Still, the jobs market is weak

Georgia's unemployment rate has hovered at around 10% for more than a year and a half.

Wilson says, a key for new grads chasing jobs in this environment is being realistic about the kinds of jobs they can get.

"We have seen with our more recent graduates that they do need to be a little bit less picky," Wilson says. "They would be best served if they were to consider some underserved rural, areas to work in. And also if they were open to working whatever shifts are available."

At the career fair, job seekers are showing signs of flexibility.

While many students came looking for education or health care jobs, many end up at Stephen Kendricks's table.

He is hiring customer service for Verizon Wireless.

"For us, it's a good thing because we can actually choose from among all these professionals that are having a hard time finding a job in their career field," Kendricks says.

Mykell Fann is among those who left with a Verizon application.

Fann graduated in December with a degree in health administration.

"Originally, I only applied in my field but now I'm kind of expanding the search out, sales side of the spectrum," Fann says.

His resume has internships and volunteerism and he's applied for a slew of jobs -- 30 in all.

His continued unemployment worries him.

"Three months now," Fann says. "Three months is more than I was hoping for."

But smartly dressed in a suit and tie, Fann beams an easy smile and laughs about his situation.

He says, yes the economy's terrible, but it will get better.

His optimism could pay off.

The national survey also showed that once they land jobs, college grads can expect starting salaries 3% higher than last year.

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