Study finds still-solid Minnesota job market for grads

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


ST. CLOUD, Minn. � Though Minnesota is experiencing its highest unemployment rate in more than two decades, the outlook for new college graduates is still excellent, according to the results of a survey of Minnesota employers conducted by the St. Cloud State University Career Services Center.

�Our study shows that 35% percent of the employers surveyed plan to increase hiring,� according to survey director Andrew Ditlevson, associate director of the St. Cloud State Career Services Center.  �With 6.5% of employers planning to decrease hiring, the demand will not be as great as last year.  However, college graduates should be encouraged to note that five employers plan to increase hiring for every one that is cutting back.�

The findings are from the fifth iteration of the only study specifically assessing the Minnesota job market for new college graduates, first conducted by St. Cloud State in 2004.  The St. Cloud State survey tapped the employers who are most active in college recruiting in Minnesota.  With 221 employers participating in the survey, it is by far the largest study of its kind in the state.

At the same time that job prospects are improving, a quarter (27%) of respondents said they plan to increase salaries this year. 

The financial services industry is the hottest market, with 52% percent of responding retailers saying they intend to increase hiring.  Retail also looks to be strong, with 38.5% planning to increase hiring. 

Nearly 79% of the employers indicated firm or tentative plans to recruit on campus, suggesting college students would be well advised to take advantage of their campus career services office and on-campus career fairs, said Ditlevson.

Asked what qualifications are needed for candidates to be considered by their organization, respondents were most likely to indicate that they highly value honesty/integrity, followed by communication.  �It is interesting to note the increasing value employers are placing on honesty and integrity, as it has risen in importance since the survey began and is ranked number one for the second consecutive year,� said the survey director.  When they were asked what skills students entering the job market most need to improve upon, employers indicated, in order of preference, realistic job expectations, work ethic and written and verbal communication skills.

Another finding in this year�s survey is that 76% offer internships and many use this as their first option for hiring new graduates into fulltime positions.  �College students would be well advised to plan on completing at least one internship prior to graduation,� said Ditlevson.

St. Cloud State offers its 17,000 students a variety of workshops and events to help them prepare to meet prospective employers, including resume writing, interviewing, and professionalism and etiquette. 

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Contact Andrew Ditlevson, 320-308-4018, for executive summary.

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