Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Three Job Wishes? Try Again

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Three Job Wishes? Try Again

Article excerpt

For the graduating class of 2000, finding a job isn't the hard part. It's sifting through all the offers.

Take Ryan Miller.

The electrical engineering major at the University of Texas, Austin, had 10 job offers. (No that's not a typo.)

In fact, she says she could have had more, but she cancelled a handful of others. "I basically got tired of interviewing," Ms. Miller concedes. "It can be a full-time job."

In the end, she accepted a position with IBM Corp., where she interned. (Big Blue actually made her five different offers.) Starting salary: in the $50,000-range, plus a signing bonus and a full relocation package.

Was she surprised? Not really: "I had a lot of friends graduate the year before. I saw how heavily they were recruited," she says, "and anticipated the same thing."

She's not alone.

For the fourth year running, the tightest labor market in 30 years has elevated new college graduates to near-celebrity status.

Recruiters are handing out job offers - and car keys - in droves. Demand is high whether your major is computer science or psychology. And signing bonuses are a given.

"It's a crazy market," says Pam Webster, a senior recruiting executive in southern California for Enterprise Rent-A-Car. "I've been recruiting with Enterprise for 11 years, and I've never seen anything like it."

No doubt she's been working overtime. The St. Louis-based company plans to hire 6,000 new employees this year for its management- training program - most of whom will come from the Class of 2000.

To stand out in the crowd, Enterprise sponsored a contest for the most creative rsum. Grand prize: $5,000. The promotion paid off as hundreds of rsums poured in.

Indeed, companies are showing students the money. Average starting salaries for computer-science graduates rose 6.4 percent over last year to $48,468, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) in Bethlehem, Pa.

And it's not just those with technical degrees who are reaping the rewards of a tight labor market. Salaries for liberal arts majors have risen 5.2 percent to $29,105.

Andersen Consulting, which plans to hire 2,500 new graduates, is offering between $35,000 and $50,000 (depending on the degree) to its entry-level hires. About half will get signing bonuses, which can go as high as $5,000. "We've had to compete head to head on compensation," says David Reed, a director of recruiting for Andersen Consulting. "That is just to be in the game - that is not to lead the pack."

Leading the pack have been Internet start-ups, which have beaten a path to universities recently. For example, three graduates from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena each received salary offers of $100,000 from different Internet firms.

And cash isn't always the biggest incentive. …

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