Most college graduates should have a slightly harder time landing a job in 1991 than their counterparts did this year, according to an annual survey of the nation's businesses.

But engineers will be in demand, and people with master's degrees will be hired at a 25 percent higher rate than 1990, according to the 45th annual Lindquist-Endicott Report.The report found that businesses plan to hire 1 percent fewer graduates overall because of concerns over the recession, inflation, the federal budget deficit and the Persian Gulf crisis.

The report also found that a job applicant's lack of knowledge about the company is the biggest "turnoff" for recruiters.

"The market is going to be more competitive. The students are going to have to work harder and be more creative and imaginative, but the jobs are going to be there. They're just going to be more difficult to uncover," said Victor R. Lindquist, director of placement at Northwestern University.

Accountants, teachers and health care professionals will be in great demand in a few years, Lindquist said at a news conference.

The highest average starting salary - $43,200 - will go to job applicants with MBA degrees, the report said.

Employers plan to increase starting salaries at a rate averaging 4.4 percent, the same as last year's increase but below the yearly inflation rate, the report said.

Lindquist said 61 percent of the 320 surveyed companies, covering a wide range of industries, expect business to stay the same or decline. He said 39 percent believe business will improve. Also, nearly one-third of the companies did worse in 1990 than in 1989, he indicated.