Byline: Richard Craver
May 20--The job market for the class of 2007 is considered the brightest for college graduates since 2001, according to career-services officials at local universities and several employment surveys.
Employers plan to increase their hiring of college graduates by an average 19.2 percent compared with last year, according to the 2007 Job Outlook survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
"Employers cited business growth and expansion as reasons for the increase in hiring," said Marilyn Mackes, the executive director of the association. "We've seen starting salaries to many disciplines rise this year, a clear indication of demand."
But landing those jobs is requiring most college students to begin their hunt much earlier, some within months of taking their first steps on campus, according to a group of area graduates.
The graduates also said that pressure is increasing for college students to differentiate themselves in an increasingly crowded job market through summer internships, speaking another language, studying abroad and being involved in the local community. The National Center for Education Statistics projected that there would be nearly 1.5 million graduates from the class of '07.
Joshua King, an economics major at Wake Forest University, said he began requesting help from the university's Office of Career Services early in his sophomore year.
"I knew that from observing seniors while I was a freshman that flexibility was going to be important, especially in a competitive field such as financial services," King said. "I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do, business or …