Pace of Job Offers Slowing for Graduates of College; It's Not a "Meltdown," Says One UNF Expert. "But It's a Slowdown."

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID BAUERLEIN

College diploma in one hand, job offer in the other.

That scenario is the ideal passage from campus to the work world. For the class of 2008, the transition is tougher than it's been in years. Companies are still recruiting on campuses, but the pace of job offers has slowed, just as the overall economy has softened.

"We haven't seen a major meltdown or shutdown," said Rick Roberts, director of the University of North Florida Career Services. "But it's a slowdown."

The National Association of Colleges and Employers reported this month hiring of college graduates would increase by 8 percent for the class of 2008 compared with the class of 2007. The organization based its job outlook on surveys of 214 employers in February.

Back in the fall, a similar survey had forecast a rosier outlook, with employers expecting a 16 percent growth in hiring. The job market has cooled off, breaking what had been four straight years of double-digit growth in hiring college graduates, according to the association.

Roberts said UNF has seen signs of the slowdown at the campus Career Expo, which is offered in the fall, winter and spring. For the class of 2007, about 100 companies attended each of the three fairs. For the class of 2008, the job fair last September attracted 90 companies. In January, the number slid to 70 companies. About 60 companies have signed up so far for the April 16 Career Expo.

While fewer companies are manning booths at the job fair, more students are attending to shake hands and drop off resumes.

UNF student Andrea Yagecic, a junior majoring in business management, said anxiety about post-college jobs isn't limited to seniors facing "crunch time." She said underclass students also are looking ahead with uncertainty.

"No matter how many people say we're not, we're going into a recession," she said.

She said she is taking a class in human resource management partly so she can learn more about the hiring process and get an edge over other applicants.

Wynissa McConnell, a nursing student slated to graduate in August 2009, visited booths Wednesday at a health career day on campus. …