SHRM Hiring Snapshot: Recent College Graduates, Post Graduates 2012

Jul 12, 2012

SHRM Hiring Snapshot: Recent College Graduates, Post Graduates 2012

Alexandria, Va. – Lack of jobs, not qualifications, is the top reason why recent college graduates and post graduates are unemployed according to a survey released today by the Society for Human Resource Management.

While employers do notice that recent college undergraduates lack—and must improve—common basic and applied skills, such is unlikely to be the reason why they are unemployed based on data from SHRM’s The Hiring of 2012 University/ College Undergraduates and Postgraduates” survey.

Nearly half (47 percent) of organizations have hired one or more recent undergraduates seeking employment, up from 41 percent in 2011, and 30 percent in 2010. Also, nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of jobs filled at the time of the 2012 survey were for full-time positions while 19 percent were temporary or contract positions, and 15 percent were part-time positions.

Nearly one-third (31 percent) have hired recent postgraduate job seekers, up from 26 percent in 2011, and 20 percent in 2010. The majority of the job offers—83 percent—were for full-time positions. Seven percent were for temporary and contract work. Another seven percent were for part-time positions.

The survey also shows that the 53 percent of organizations that have not yet hired 2012 undergraduates and postgraduates are unlikely to hire them at all this year. Most (75 percent) employers have no current openings for recent graduates while eight percent report hiring freezes.

Eighteen percent indicate recent graduates are under qualified for open positions while 17 percent indicate such graduates are over qualified for available positions.

“What do graduates today bring to the job?—they’re likely to be savvy in technology say many employers,” noted Mark Schmit, vice president of research at SHRM. “Still, they must improve basic skills/ knowledge, such as English grammar and spelling, and applied skills, such as critical thinking to best compete for jobs and transition into the ones they land.”

A breakdown of responses from human resource professionals shows (top three applied skills followed by top three basic skills/knowledge areas):

  • written communications skills -- 41 percent said undergraduates lack;
  • critical thinking/problem solving skills -- 38 percent said undergraduates lack;
  • oral communication skills -- 30 percent said undergraduates lack;
  • English grammar and spelling skills-- 45 percent said undergraduates lack;
  • Mathematics -- 17 percent said undergraduates lack; and
  • spoken English skills-- 12 percent said undergraduates lack,

Unsurprisingly, respondents indicate that jobs calling for highly-skilled technical skills, scientists, engineers, and managers and executives remain the most difficult to recruit for.

The survey includes responses from 378 randomly selected HR professionals from SHRM’s membership.

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About the Society for Human Resource Management

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) is the world’s largest association devoted to human resource management. Representing more than 250,000 members in over 140 countries, the Society serves the needs of HR professionals and advances the interests of the HR profession. Founded in 1948, SHRM has more than 575 affiliated chapters within the United States and subsidiary offices in China and India. Visit SHRM Online at


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