Job market still has room for Elis

While the economic crisis has made finding post-graduation jobs more difficult for seniors across the country, Yale students are faring better than many of their peers.

The number of job offers accepted by Yale students so far this year — according to a survey answered by one-third of employers who recruit on campus — is 10 percent lower than last year’s total, Undergraduate Career Services Director Phil Jones said. But nationally, the number of offers extended is projected to be 22 percent lower than in previous years, said Emanuel Contomanolis, president of the National Association of Colleges and Employers. While the two surveys measure slightly different statistics, Jones said, Yale’s comparative performance still suggests that Yale students should not despair about their prospects of landing a job.

“The schools that have the strongest academic reputations with the very best potential talents are going to feel the effects [of the job market],” Contomanolis said. “But they may not feel them as deeply as other colleges are going to feel them.”

But while the job market may favor Yale students, Jones said they should be more proactive during the job hunt. In particular, he said, students have been relying too heavily on the Internet as a job search tool.

“Under normal circumstances it’s inadequate, and under this environment it’s entirely inadequate,” he said of the Internet-only approach to searching for jobs. “You’re looking through a keyhole at the universe of jobs, and you’re missing the overwhelming possibility of opportunities.”

Lindsey Pollak ’96, author of “Getting from College to Career,” cautioned that the job application process should be no less time-intensive for Yale students than for non-Yale students. The tough economy has caused some seniors to become so overwhelmed by anxiety that they cannot find jobs, Pollak said, an effect she said can be remedied by remaining open-minded about potential careers.

“The biggest mistake you can make is [to] become paralyzed by fear and a lack of perfection,” she said. “I know Yalies; we want the best. If you can’t get the best, do something good so you can move up to where you exactly want to be in a couple years.”

Still, for those students with their hearts set on the highly selective investment banks and consulting firms that recruit at Yale, the news is not all bad. While these companies may not offer the same number of jobs as in the past, they will continue to recruit and hire from Yale, Jones said.

Matthew Krentz ’83, managing director of the Chicago branch of the Boston Consulting Group, described Yale as a “core recruiting school” for the company, saying BCG expects to continue hiring near historic levels.

“There’s a core set of schools that we want to continue to recruit and maintain,” he said. “Yale has been a great place for us to find well-rounded, skilled people of diverse backgrounds.”

In contrast, Krentz said the company may have fewer resources for recruitment at schools that represent the “farther fringe” of where the company does their hiring.

Still, Jones said McKinsey & Co., another highly selective consulting firm, visited Yale to recruit for only one day this fall; last year, the company came for two.

But with jobs scarce, Yale, like its peer schools, has been pushing students to approach the job hunt differently. UCS held a series of workshops this spring dedicated to finding jobs in a tough economy, although Jones said attendance at the workshops was low.

But while Yale is working to help seniors, the specter of next year’s dismal job market looms on the horizon.

“I really think it’s going to be worse next fall,” said Robin Mount, interim director of Harvard University’s Office of Career Services.

Mount said she expects companies to be more conservative in their recruitment, offering fewer campus visits and on-campus interviews.

Added Contomanolis: “Potentially, it could be tougher still for the class of 2010. Most projections, even the most hopeful ones, don’t see much of a reversal [in the job market].”

The number of interviews held for full-time jobs this year dropped 10 percent from last year’s total, Jones said in February.

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