Business Leads Entry-Level Jobs; Base Pay Stays Modest

The top five industries for entry-level workers, according to MonsterTRAK, will be filled by graduating students with diverse interests and unconventional majors.

Based on the number of entry-level job opportunities posted to MonsterTRAK, the top occupations include the following:

  1. Business operations, HR, and financial services. This category accounts for almost 25% of all entry-level opportunities and includes accounting, financial analysis and research, management and administration, and human resource and labor relations.
  2. Sales and marketing. This was the most rapidly growing segment, with a growth of more than 300%, year-over-year.
  3. Architecture/Engineering. Naval architects and marine engineers are the most highly sought specialists by employers hiring in this category, followed closely by electrical, civil, and mechanical engineers.
  4. Computer/Mathematical. Entry-level opportunities include programming, computer maintenance and support, geographic information systems, and Web design. This category jumped 18% year-over-year.
  5. Office/Admin. This category represents administrative assistants, customer service representatives, receptionists, and data entry clerks.

“Employers’ demand for workers in the white-color industries have been consistently growing and will presumably continue to do so, as evidenced by entry-level hiring trends witnessed last year and supported by the Monster Employment Index findings,” said Mark Charnock, vice president and general manager of MonsterTRAK.

Majors Spanning Art History to Zoology

Although business operations, HR, and financial services are the most popular fields for hiring, many of the new graduates who seek employment at your company may lack business- or math-related majors.

It is the applicants with “unconventional majors” who will be filling the critical roles at your company this year. This isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, as it could give your organization the chance to build a unique, well-rounded staff.

“Our focus is on our clients and advisors and recruiting people who will have a passion to serve and to help our clients achieve their dreams,” said Shelly Forkrud, director of advisor recruiting and selection for Ameriprise Financial.

“In addition to attracting those with financial backgrounds, we look for talented people who are early in their careers or are making a career change. Everyone’s background is unique, but each individual must have a strong sense of providing the best client experience possible,” said Forkrud.

In fact, to help lead students with an “unconventional” major or personal style to your company’s front door, MonsterTRAK created the “Major to Career Converter” tool.

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Stalling Salaries?

Regardless, when those new graduates arrive for their interviews, they may find the base salary is less than anticipated. Hewitt Associates indicates there will be little growth in base pay in the coming year, averaging 3.8% nationally.

However, Hewitt estimates that variable pay bonuses may top 12% in 2008. For example, in its new survey, Hewitt notes a sharp increase in employer adoption of variable pay programs, with more than 90% offering at least one type of broad-based variable pay plan, up from 80% in 2006 and just 51% in 1991.

Hewitt says the industries with the biggest salary gains for 2008 will be accounting/consulting/legal; energy (oil/gas); and construction and engineering, while those in automotive; forest and paper products/packaging; and medical devices should not expect a huge salary spike.

Regionally, DC, Houston, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, and New York City are hotter than Detroit, Atlanta, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. Those four cities are projected to have the lowest increases next year.

In its survey of 1,007 large organizations, 46% reported problems in attracting and retaining employees this year, up from 37% last year.

Elaine Rigoli has nearly 15 years of experience managing content and community for various B2B and consumer websites. Elaine has written thousands of business and technology articles and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal and eWeek, among other publications.

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