The downturn in defense-related industries and the national recession have forced many company recruiters to either cancel their annual interviews on Utah college campuses or come with fewer jobs.
Job placement centers at Utah's three biggest universities - the University of Utah, Utah State University and the private Brigham Young University - all report a larger-than-normal number of cancellations from company recruiters.The U. reports a 13 percent drop in company recruiter visits, while BYU said 20 percent fewer recruiters have been on campus this year. Both USU and Weber State University also report a slowing of recruitment, although they didn't have exact percentages.
Utah colleges aren't alone. Schools across the nation report an increased number of recruiter cancellations. At the University of North Carolina, for example, companies recruiting on campus are down 10 percent to 15 percent, while approximately 10 percent of company recruiters have canceled at Northwestern University.
But it's not just graduates of the big Wasatch Front universities who are weathering a tough job-hunting year. Seniors at the tiny liberal arts Westminster College are feeling the job squeeze, too.
"What I've found is so unusual. Some recruiters will come on campus to keep visibility, then the students will interview and the employers don't have any openings," said Karen Despain, Westminster director of placement.
Steven Eichmeier, WSU director of career services, said the recruiters who have interviewed Weber students have come with jobs - but with fewer of them.
"I think they're holding back because of recession. Their projections are shorter rather than longer. The gulf situation also probably made them edgy," Eichmeier said.
But the WSU program relies more on aggressively contacting companies to find jobs for its students than company recruiters, Eichmeier said.
Wayne Hansen, BYU managing director of placement and employment services, said the Class of 1991 faces the most difficult job search in seven years.
Annual BYU surveys traditionally show that at this time of year 75 percent to 80 percent of graduating students know what they'll be doing after graduation.
But in the 1991 survey, that total had dropped to 65 percent to 70 percent of BYU's graduating 4,000 students.
The placement directors said the students with a tougher 1991 job search will be engineers and business graduates.
New engineers will face more competition from experienced, out-of-work engineers who have lost jobs in defense-related cutbacks, the placement directors said.
But Dave Hart, USU director of placement and cooperative education, cautioned that engineering still fares better than other areas.
"It is going to be tougher for engineers compared to last year, but compared to business, engineering still is a better place to be," Hart said.
The proliferation of master's-business programs and the problems in the banking industry have made that field much more competitive.
"The MBA dream - graduating and getting a $50,000 job - has vanished for some people," Hart said.
Who will get the jobs? Special education teachers, new math and science teachers, school psychologists, school counselors and nurses. The placement directors said these graduates can almost write their own tickets.
But, despite the tight job market in many fields, the placement directors said there are jobs out there, if the graduates are willing to aggressively pursue them.
"A person has to believe they're (jobs) out there and then go look for them," said Sam Morrison, director of the U. Placement and Career Information Center.
Added Westminster's Despain: "Students who have worked hard at getting a job have gotten offers."
BYU's Hansen has seen close-up such advice put into action. Two sons graduated this year. One, a teacher, had an easy job search, but his other son, who is a finance graduate, worked hard for five months before he got an acceptable offer with a Boise firm.
Just said `no'
The following are some of the companies that canceled one or both of their job-recruiting visits to the University of Utah and Utah State University student placement centers.
Department of Commerce
Department of Energy
Ford Motor Co.
Iowa Beef Packing