College Recruitment Down as Job Fair Participation Wanes

Inducements such as signing bonuses and free cars are but a dim memory as students compete for a smaller number of jobs at this fall's college job fair recruitment events.

"We're seeing quite a drop in the number of companies who have traditionally come to recruit through our on-campus recruiting program," said Patricia Macken, director of employer relations at Columbia University in New York. Participation in the school's annual recruitment job fair has dropped from 93 employers at this time last year to 80 employers.

Companies that do participate in campus recruitment are cutting back on the number of candidates they will agree to interview and, in some cases, interviewing without the promise of there being any jobs available.

The grim results of a recent Job Outlook 2002 survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers show employers anticipate hiring 19.7 percent fewer new employees this year over last year. The biggest drop was noted in the manufacturing field where employers expect to hire 30.1 percent fewer new employees this year over last.

By region, decreases in hiring during 2001-2002 as compared to 2000-2001 are expected to be less noticeable in the South and most predominant in the West. The regional breakdown looks like this:

  • West: 44.8 percent decrease
  • Northeast: 18.5 percent decrease
  • Midwest: 17.6 percent decrease
  • South: 7.3 percent decrease

Overall, survey respondents expect to decrease on-campus recruitment by visiting 12.6 fewer colleges than last year.

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