Black says EY starts the process so early because many other competitors began to recruit earlier and earlier; "& identifying and hiring top talent is so competitive, we want to get to them first," he says.
It's a Good Time to Be Graduating
The outlook for 2014 graduates is bright, says Black. EY is looking to hire about 7,200 "campus hires" for both internships and full-time positions, which means the company isn't just back to pre-recession hiring levels, it's exceeding those.
And the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), of which Black is a board member, is predicting a 20 percent increase in hiring year-over-year from 2013, he says.
Even if you haven't begun your job search, there are a number of ways you can prepare for entry into the job market, says Black. An internship opportunity is always a great way to gain on-the-job experience and work with potential future employers, he says, and an internship may well turn into an offer for full-time employment.
"We convert 90 percent of our interns to full-time hires," Black says. "We see internships exploding across our industry and more and more companies are using these types of programs with college students," he says.
How to Prepare: Tap Social Media
Even if you haven't participated in an internship program, making sure your social media presence is up-to-date, polished and professional is also crucial during a job search, says Gillis.
"LinkedIn is a huge advantage, especially for college graduates or potential graduates," Gillis says. "If you're establishing a presence there, it shows a level of professionalism and tech savvy that's enticing for employers," he says.
Gillis adds that new college graduates without much relevant work experience aren't necessarily at a great disadvantage when looking for jobs if they know how to highlight their strengths and their knowledge. New college grads are often far more aware of and skilled with cutting edge technologies and best practices than even more seasoned, experienced job-seekers, and that can an advantage, too, he says.
"You must present yourself as a candidate who is on the cutting edge of technology and skills, because you've been using them very recently," Gillis says.
One of Gillis' clients, in fact, was a new graduate with a landscape architecture degree in the middle of the 2008 housing slump, and felt his job prospects were grim. But by emphasizing his newly minted education and his familiarity with cutting-edge design tools, he landed a job quickly, Gillis says.
"The firm was run and staffed by older, less tech-savvy employees, and [was] impressed by his knowledge and experience with some of the latest and greatest design and tech-based tools," Gillis said. "He was able to show them how he could improve their practice and generate revenue using these, and so even during a housing slump, he got the job," he says.