means that fewer of those jobs are available. In the
past, jobs in residence life seemed to offer many
good opportunities for graduates.”
“It seems tighter for full-time, permanent professional positions. Nearly all of our recent grads
are working, but the majority is in temporary
positions. It appears that job offers are going to
candidates with more experience in the field versus
candidates who graduated fairly recently.”
Almost forty percent ( 39.47%) of the respondents reported
that the percentage of students placed in 2009 was lower than
in 2008. Many of the graduate faculty commented that their
students are getting interviews and job offers, but that job
openings, interviews, and, in particular, job offers are occurring later in the year. A recent review of jobs listed in The
Chronicle of Higher Education in July 2010, found that of the
310 student affairs jobs posted, 44 percent were posted in
the previous two weeks. Patience and flexibility seem to be a
requirement in this job market.
Less Movement at the Top
A related factor contributing to the tightening of the job
market for new and mid-level professionals was the lack of
movement at the top of the organization as fewer senior staff
members elected to retire. The recession has dramatically
affected the wealth of all Americans, with 401K and annuity
programs such as TIAA-CREF and home values taking the
heaviest hits. Retirement assets alone dropped by 22 percent
from 2006–08, while home prices dropped 20 percent during
this same period.
Clearly, this reduction in wealth has affected the numbers
of individuals delaying retirement. A 2009 national survey
conducted by CareerBuilder.com reported that 70 percent of
workers over the age of 60 who said they were delaying retirement were doing so because they could no longer afford to
retire. While student affairs or higher education data are not
available on this point, anecdotal evidence and conversations
with senior-level student affairs professionals would support
this delay of retirement. Until Baby Boomer student affairs
staff members return to their retirement plans and available
positions at the senior levels increase, employment at entry-and mid-levels will continue to be tight.
Community colleges have received a good deal of media attention during the recession: It was widely reported throughout
2008 and 2009 that enrollment at community colleges had
increased significantly. At the same time, budgets remained
fixed or were reduced during the recession, resulting in significant pressure on classroom facilities and support services.
While the weak economy may have led to an increase in
community college enrollment, job growth in the sector has
been relatively mild to date. The resulting increase in tuition
income may be offset by losses in other areas, discouraging
community colleges from expanding staff and significantly
increasing the number of new hires.
Job seekers may want to consider the following as they begin their employment searches:
➤ Today’s job market calls for extreme flexibility and patience.
What Does the Future Hold?
State budgets are still tight and will continue to put pressure on institutional budgets. As revenue from income tax,
sales tax, and other sources declines, states have been forced
to make broad cuts to all state services. Since 2008, 30 states
have made cuts to health care, 25 states have decreased services
to the elderly, 30 states have made cuts in K– 12 education,
and 41 states have reduced higher education budgets.
One mitigating factor may be the effect of increasing enroll-
ments and tuition increases. In California, the University
of California’s Board of Regents approved a plan last year to
raise tuition 32 percent. Florida, Illinois, and Washington are
proposing tuition increases ranging from
9 to 14 percent.
However, according to Stateline.org,
fiscal experts predict higher education
will take an even bigger budget blow in
fiscal 2011, compared to last year when 33
states slashed funding to four-year colleges.
Since state support for higher education is
the third largest general fund expenditure
after health care and K– 12 education,
more reductions are likely, which means
continued pressure on the higher education job market. LE
➤ With less movement at the mid-level range, there will continue to be fewer
job openings for full-time positions. Consider part-time or contract positions.
➤ Review all of your geographic options.
➤ Consider a wide range of functional areas to expand your job search.
Kevin Kruger is the associate executive director
➤ When looking at public colleges and universities, study the state fiscal situation to determine the possibility of future job cuts.
➤ A tight job market puts a premium on well-written, error-free cover letters
and résumés and first-rate interview skills.