Last fall's economic meltdown was so shocking, many college seniors reacted by putting off looking for work.
"They wanted to wait, maybe wait a little bit, see if the market picked up," said Kimberly Betz, director of Career Development at Minnesota's St. Catherine University. "They wanted to kind of maybe not deal with it right away."
In a national survey of students completing bachelor's degrees in the spring, less than 20 percent said they had lined up full-time jobs, compared with 50 percent two years ago. The survey was conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.
"A majority of the students that responded to the survey think that they will be employed within three months of their graduation," said Edwin Koc, a researcher at the association. "We don't think to a certain extent that the ramifications of the economic situation have completely sunk in."
Then again, maybe the new college graduates are right not to panic.
"There are 12.5 million job openings in the United States currently," said Melanie Holmes, a vice president with the employment services company Manpower Inc. "We know that the hardest jobs to fill in the United States include engineers, nurses, teachers, sales reps, technicians and IT staff."
Many of these openings are off the beaten path — say, in rural hospitals. But that's where recent graduates have a leg up on older job-hunters: It's a lot easier for a 22-year-old — unburdened by mortgage and kids — to go to where the work is.