Traditionally, the route to a successful, professional career is to first obtain a college education. For many careers, in fact, you need an additional degree beyond that.
But even if you lay the proper foundation like that, the first job after you complete your schooling can be the toughest to get. Given the choice between a qualified person with experience in a given field, and a person who is qualified on paper but doesn’t yet have that experience, it’s understandable that most employers would prefer the experienced candidate.
In a down economy, this problem for the work force newcomer is only exacerbated. A high unemployment rate means more people competing for job openings, with more than usual of those people being experienced, appealing candidates.
So one factor you may have to consider is relocating to find the right entry level job. If such jobs are hard to come by where you are, find out where they are more plentiful. Because whatever the general state of affairs in the economy, career prospects will always be better in some places and worse in others.
Recently, two major publications/websites-Bloomberg and Monster.com-researched which U.S. cities are most promising for recent graduates looking to start their professional careers. Bloomberg based its findings on data from the website AfterCollege that matches graduates with employers, as well as each city’s average salary, cost of living, and unemployment rate. Monster used the factors of the cities’ growth rates, unemployment rates, average salary, cost of living, and commute time.
So which cities came out on top for entry-level professional jobs? Let’s look at the top ten from each list:
* Bloomberg *
1. Houston, TX
2. Washington, DC
3. Dallas, TX
4. Atlanta, GA
5. Austin, TX
6. Minneapolis, MN
7. Pittsburgh, PA
8. Denver, CO
9. Columbus, OH
10. Fort Worth, TX
* Monster *
1. Austin, TX
2. San Antonio, TX
3. Salt Lake City, UT
4. Oklahoma City, OK
5. Raleigh-Cary metropolitan area, NC
6. Seattle, WA
7. Rochester, NY
8. Portland, OR
9. Denver, CO
10. Honolulu, HI
Maybe the first thing that jumps out at one is how little overlap there is between the lists. Only two cities made both top tens (Austin and Denver). What this shows as much as anything is that there is a lot of subjectivity, a lot of interpretation, a lot of judgment in determining which criteria to use and how to weigh them in deciding which cities have the best job climate. What precise method is best to use will depend in part on each individual job candidate’s preferences, and may not match either of these lists very closely.
The other thing that is striking about these lists is the dominance of Texas. Texas cities take two of the top ten positions on the Monster list, and a whopping four of the top ten positions on the Bloomberg list, including the Number 1 spot on both.
Beyond that, other notable results would include the geographic diversity. The South, the Rocky Mountain region, and the Pacific Northwest are all represented, and even the Midwest and the Northeast have multiple entries on these lists. Not to mention one outside the continental United States entirely (Honolulu). If you do need to relocate for your first job, perhaps you won’t have to relocate far.
The geographic diversity of the lists is not without its limits however. Note that California-the largest state in the nation, the state of top universities, the state of numerous thriving metropolises including Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and San Jose-managed to place a grand total of zero cities on either list.
These lists provide an interesting starting point for considering where to look for an entry level job, but really no more than that. The diligent job candidate will need to dig a lot deeper to determine not just which cities hold some promise in general, but which have the opportunities in his or her specific field, as well as fitting his or her other preferences.
Anna Hennings, Tania Khadder, Adam Starr, and Alice Handley, “College Graduates: Top 25 Cities for Finding Your Entry-Level Job.” Monster.com.
Francesca Di Meglio, “Best Cities for New College Grads.” Bloomberg Businessweek.