Undergrads may have an edge in tough job market


Scott Rudell has his greeting down to a science.

"I'm looking for work in mechanical engineering," says Rudell.

It's what he needs to do to stand out at Santa Clara University's annual fall job fair. He's just one of hundreds looking for a job.

"Been pretty tough, I got laid off in April and since then I've been looking around, put in a lot of resumes," says Rudell.

At a time when California's unemployment rate is 12.4 percent and companies are scaling back, young people are learning.

"The competition is really hard," says grad student Huy Le.

Even at the university only 93 companies showed up. In a good year, twice as many participate with plenty of jobs, but right now there are far more applicants than openings.

Just getting a job right out of school has been especially hard since 2009. That's when the hiring rate for new grads dropped by 25 percent. Normally it increases about 5 percent a year.

"What we've got right here is a stack of resumes,"

Companies like Gallo Wine, Facebook, and Macys are hiring and they have the luxury of being picky.

"I really look to see how the students interact with me in regards to simple things like a handshake up to how they can talk to the information that's on their resume," says Greg Gratteau from the Gallo Wine Company.

Personality and attitude matter. According to professor of economics Alex Field, Ph.D., in this economy under grads may actually have a leg up.

"Sometimes firms will view a fresh face trainable, somebody out of college, enthusiastic, perhaps a little bit less expensive than somebody who has been out for a while," says Field.

That's a concept those at the job fair hope catches on fast.

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