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More jobs for class of 2013 than class of 2012

Job prospects for new college grads have been looking pretty bleak, but that trend could be reversing starting this spring.

Employers said they plan on hiring 13 percent more from the class of 2013 than the class of 2012, according to the just-released National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) Job Outlook 2013 survey

That's good news, considering overall seasonally adjusted unemployment ratesare 8.1 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. When you add in into those who have given up looking for work for various reasons, what the BLS calls its “U-6” measure, that number is even higher, 14.7 percent

In another positive sign for new grads, the number of employers saying they had “firm” plans in place to recruit in the spring is up to 37.6 percent from 34.4 percent last year. Overall recruiting plans are up slightly as well, from 18.2 percent to 18.6 percent. 

The number of respondents saying they will hire fewer college graduates than last year went down to 8 percent. That's the lowest percentage in the survey since 2007. 

Brandon Labam, co-founder of Virginia-based ROCS staffing, which specializes in recruiting college and graduate talent, said he's likewise been seeing the number of job listings increase. Additionally, companies are now not just recruiting for revenue-generating positions like sales, but also infrastructure-building administrative roles. That's a sign companies are more willing to invest in long-term growth. 

The appeal of hiring a fresh college graduate is that while they take more training, there's “a lot more upside if you train them well,” said Labam. “They don't have bad habits from another job ... you can mold them into the perfect employee.” 

But haven't we been hearing how millennial employees are lazy, difficult to manage, need to be coddled, and just play on Twitter all day? Why would employers want more of them? 

Labam says he's seeing that sense of “entitlement” among entry-level candidates from the years past has gone away. No one thinks they're going to get their dream job perfectly tailored to their individual personality handed to them anymore. Graduates now realize they need to demonstrate “hunger” and “passion” in the interview room if they're going to get the job. “It's come back to basics,” he said. “You can't just be good and from a good school. You've got to work your butt off.” 

Besides seeing the attitude shift in the candidates, hiring a new college graduate is an inexpensive way for companies to test the hiring waters. They'll take a lower salary, and be easier to get rid of if the upswing falters.

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