New Grads Face a Tough but Improving Job Market in 2016

College of Business and Economics students graduating in 2016 can expect to face a competitive job market but one with improved prospects over last year. Several key factors continue to make finding a degree-relevant entry level position difficult including continued slow growth in the economy, competition from previous years’ graduates and shifts in skill requirements for entry-level positions.  Despite these forces employers are reporting plans to increase recruitment of new graduates for the second half of 2016.  For those graduates still looking for work, making an appointment with CBE Placement Services could be key to getting hired.

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Recent downward revisions of job prospects for new grads from late 2015 produced a flurry of negative articles.  The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) originally forecast an 11% increase in 2016 hiring last October and November but revised the number down to 5.2% in March after a rocky start to the year.  Despite the lowered estimate, it still represents positive growth over last year. So, the jobs are out there.

What salaries can new graduates expect when they do land that job?  It depends on the occupation but data broke hiring salaries into the following ranges.

Expected Salary Ranges for Recent Graduates (2016)

Under $30,000 (26%)

$30,000 to less than $40,000 (30%)

$40,000 to less than $50,000 (20%)

$50,000 and over (24%)

In this economy creativity is key.

New graduates will need to be prepared for competition.  They will compete against unemployed graduates from the last seven graduating classes and graduates considered under-employed, a term referring to highly educated workers who have a job but cannot get the full-time hours they need.  Another segment of graduates needed to accept positions beneath their educational level.  According to the Federal Reserve Bank in 2015, up to 44.6% of young college graduates were working in a job that did not require a college degree. 

In this economy creativity is key.  The opportunity for graduates taking a non-degree job at a desirable firm is to show an employer you’re ready for more.  Marketing graduate Jessica Islas started as a receptionist at Davis Elen Advertising and was promoted to Account Coordinator within a couple of months after showing management she had the skills and work ethic to move up. Her previous experience working as a student assistant while at the CBE prepared her for the position.

The good news is that graduates with business-related skills are among the most in demand. According to the top areas for recruiting include Business Development, Information Technology, Sales, Finance and Accounting, Administrative Jobs, and Marketing.  Plenty of the CBE’s 2016 graduates secured positions in these fields prior to graduation.  Chris Huang is among several MS Accountancy graduates who secured positions in large and mid-tier accounting firms like Ernst & Young.  David Tagle recently started in the Systems Solutions Deployment team at Kaiser Permanente.

Graduates need to bring the skills employers are requiring, not just the knowledge. 


Graduates need to bring the skills employers are requiring, not just the knowledge.  Various surveys found that the skills required of entry level jobs has shifted.  Employers are now looking for a more complex skill set that’s a marriage of interpersonal and technical skills. Employers are looking for problem solving skills, teamwork skills, leadership and experience with business software which frequently requires practical experience outside the classroom.  Employers look for internships, membership in student clubs and professional associations and previous office experience on graduate resumes. NACE’s Job Outlook 2016 survey shows what skills employers are looking for.


For graduates still looking for a position there are several ways to boost their chances of success. Recent graduates who are members of the alumni association have access to CBE Placement Services and the University Career Development Center  for professional development and job search support.  CBE Placement Services can connect graduates with employers and staffing agencies. Joining professional organizations and attending networking events are great ways to meet industry contacts. 

Students graduating in 2017 and 2018 should already be building their resumes and LinkedIn profiles.  Take advantage of workshops, information sessions and internships while at Cal State LA to gain the skills employers are looking for. Find opportunities to fill in gaps in skill sets including part-time work with staffing agencies and industry related volunteer work. Take advantage of instructional videos to learn a wide variety of business software.  Visit the CBE Placement Services website for resources and to make an appointment to speak with the Placement Coordinator.