N.C. State sophomore Josh Hitzemann faces a tough task. He is organizing the career fair for N.C. State's College of Engineering, but the 1,300 students who normally attend the job fair are in for a big surprise.
So far, only 50 companies have signed up compared to 130 that attended last year. Many companies attending are not even hiring, so Hitzemann is changing his recruiting technique.
"At first, I was focusing on having as many companies come as possible, but after a while, I decided it was more important to see if I could get companies that were interested in hiring come instead of companies that were just there to show up," he said.
Walter Jones runs N.C. State's University Career Center. He said this is the worst job market in his 30 years at the university. IBM, SAS and Nortel hired the largest number of N.C. State students over the past three years, but none are recruiting this year.
"The spring semester here and at other campuses around the country looks absolutely horrible," he said.
Last year, 311 corporations did about 7,000 individual interviews at the university. This year, there will be about 200 companies doing less than 50 percent of the one-on-one recruitment.
Jones said graduating seniors will not have the luxuries their colleagues had a year ago.
"They're going to have to be more versatile in what they're looking for, in what they're willing to accept, realistic in the number of job offers they might expect. You're looking for one opportunity now as opposed to last year expecting to have five or six to choose from," he said.
Experts say there is a bright side. Advisors say students looking for a job in a tight market will gain skills that will benefit them in the future, including how to network and how to be persistent.
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