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They Want YOU!

If you’re graduating from college this May, Enterprise Rent-A-Car wants you to apply for a job. So do AmeriCorps, Walgreen, the IRS and Progressive Insurance, to name a few.

Lots of companies tell soon-to-be-graduates that they don’t have enough experience. Not these organizations. They are the five biggest employers of recent college graduates, according to this year’s top 500 entry-level employers. It’s an annual survey by for which the Web site surveys thousands of employers on their hiring trends for this year’s graduating class.

For the sixth straight year, Enterprise tops the list, with its projected hiring of 8,500 people into its management training program. AmeriCorps, a national organization that sets graduates up to work in nonprofits like the Red Cross and Habitat for Humanity, wants to bring on 6,000 new grads. Just behind AmeriCorps is Walgreen, with a projected 5,924 positions for recent graduates, and the IRS with 5,000 jobs.

These numbers might sound surprising, given the gloomy job reports out recently. “When it comes to recent grads, they’re the first group who get hired after a recession and the last place we see it decrease before a recession,” says Heidi Hanisko, director of client services at

In fact, these companies are increasing their hiring by an average of 11.8% in 2008. That’s partly because many employers didn’t find enough qualified candidates last year. The retiring baby boomers are another reason. With baby boomers leaving the workforce, younger generations advance in order to fill their positions, creating openings at the entry level of organizations.

That’s one reason Enterprise hires so many graduating seniors. All new staffers start in company rental-car branches in the management training program. Virtually everyone at Enterprise graduates from the training program and then moves into more senior-level jobs.

“It’s our way of pipelining talent into the company and developing people to take on roles across the organization,” says Marie Artim, Enterprise’s assistant vice president of recruiting, a graduate of the management program 16 years ago.

Many of these employers are hiring for a variety of job types. At Enterprise, successful applicants don’t have to be business majors–they bring aboard candidates of all backgrounds. And you don’t have to be a pharmacist to apply to Walgreen. They’re looking for managers, nurses, health care administrators and marketing candidates.

The story is the same at Minneapolis-based Target (nyse: TGT – news – people ), which projects it will hire 3,358 recent grads this year. Positions are available in product design and development; merchandising and marketing; merchandise planning and presentation; sourcing services; design and property management; finance and accounting; human resources and information technology.

And some jobs are launching pads for positions in other areas. For instance, a recent graduate who didn’t major in teaching can apply to become an entry-level teacher at Teach for America. Successful candidates commit two years to teach in low-income communities. First, they go through an intense five-week summer preparation institute in one of six cities: Atlanta, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, and Phoenix.

This is an impressive number of openings,” says Brian Krueger, president of “Even in the midst of a challenging economy, college grads are in very high demand, and employers are competing to attract top-skilled candidates in all industries.”


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Category: Career Central

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