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Job Market Hype (Continued)

By Ian Ybarra

features columnist

Last week, I attempted to demystify the recent CollegeGrad.com Top Entry Level Employers press release that has been touted as “Good News for the Class of 2004.” This week, I’ll point out its outlandish statements, as well as its tragic ones.

Let’s start with a quote they take from Steven Jungman, a National Recruiter at Mattress Firm Inc. “We consider graduating students to be a wealth of talent and energy who are dynamic and in-touch with current events and trends,” Jungman said.

I would highly doubt college students have their fingers on the pulse of the premium and luxury mattress market. Most students I know sleep on hollow cushions, thick as a cotton ball, with stiff springs protruding in all the wrong places. Until I visited Mattress Firm’s website, I didn’t know that luxury mattresses were even available in dorm-standard extra-long, twin size.

Next, the press release claims that CollegeGrad.com’s “Top Entry Level Employers” list will help college students. Marguerite Armas-Busetti, Director of Career Planning and Placement at Mercy College, says, “View the CollegeGrad.com Top Entry Level Employer List as a slam-dunk way to network yourself into a job in your field.”

If anything can be called a “slam-dunk” method of getting a job, it’s certainly not this list. It’s the employment equivalent of United Airlines’ E-Fares. Since thousands upon thousands of people receive the same last-minute special deals via e-mail, my chances of reserving one are quite low. Even if luck were on my side, would I really enjoy working for Enterprise Rent-A-Car (CollegeGrad.com’s top employer -- 6,500 jobs)? Convincing customers to drive sedans that smell like rotting rhino carcasses seems as fun as getting stuck overnight in O’Hare International, listening to United employees telling me it was all my fault.

Sadly, reading CollegeGrad.com’s press release makes me think that these people who get paid to preach about how to get a job simply don’t get it. Brian Krueger, president and founder of CollegeGrad.com, says first, “While the market is still very competitive, the jobs are there to be found for those who take the time to do the research.”

Is it really that much easier to find jobs this year than last? CollegeGrad.com’s list accounted for over 120,000 jobs this year and over 106,000 jobs last year. Only 106,000? Oh, my!

Clearly, finding a few jobs is not the problem. After all, we are well-trained World Wide Web searching machines. I’d bet Mr. Krueger that any MIT student could find more jobs in thirty minutes than he could apply for in three months. Those career-planning directors and job-getting know-it-alls should be talking about the truly difficult part - how to win them.

Ironically, Krueger’s book “College Grad Job Hunter” does discuss many things about how to win jobs. (The contents can be found online at http://www.collegegrad.com/jobsearch/.)

This inconsistency makes me think there might have been a coup at the company. After all, as president, Krueger should have control over the important messages released to the press.

Then I saw a “Press Info” page on CollegeGrad.com. Below a photo of Krueger, it states repeatedly that “Brian is available for interviews...” and -- like a cheesy jingle -- ends with, “He is highly quotable and available for your next story.” Buried in the mess is one brief sentence about his actual credentials.

Brian seems desperate. Whether he is choosing to seek different employment or is being ousted by a coup at his own company, I wonder if he’ll take comfort in CollegeGrad’s slam-dunk way to get a job at 500 companies. Make that 499. Mattress Firm will definitely ding him. He is years out of college, so his pillow talk is probably rusty.