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Navigating the Current State of University Recruiting

For University Recruiting leaders, staying at the forefront of the current state of the market and understanding the ever-evolving dynamics of the early career space is a necessity. As we embark on strategy for the 2024-2025 recruiting season, let’s delve into the nuanced landscape, exploring the latest developments in university enrollment and the labor market.

Market Overview

University Enrollment has Increased Slightly

The landscape of higher education is undergoing a shift, signifying a positive post-pandemic turn. Fall 2023 saw the first growth in college enrollment since before the pandemic. Freshman enrollment increased this year, driven in part by students over the age of 21. Community colleges are seeing the most growth, aided by the increasing popularity of vocational programs and dual-enrollment high school programs. While total enrollment is yet to reach pre-pandemic levels, this surge provides a renewed sense of optimism and opportunity for University Recruiting leaders.

Consider how the changes in enrollment distribution might influence your fall recruiting strategy. Spikes in community college enrollment may present new talent pools to source. Access our guide to hiring at community colleges to learn how to access this often untapped source of entry level talent.

Labor Market Snapshot: Job Openings Still Greater Than Hires

In the professional realm, the job market paints a fascinating picture. November 2024 witnessed job openings hitting a two-year low. Despite the dip, job openings continue to outpace actual hires, highlighting the persistent need for skilled professionals. The unemployment rate dropped to 4% in November, a slight decrease from the previous month, and the rate of layoffs has maintained a steady 1% since September 2023, showcasing remarkable stability.

Optimistic Job Growth: Diverse Sector Expansions and Stable Unemployment Rate

Stepping into the new year, optimism pervades the employment landscape. Employment has seen consistent growth over the past three months, culminating in an impressive addition of 353,000 jobs in January alone. However, the impact of this growth is not felt equally by all industries. Job growth reflects a balanced picture of both cyclical and non-cyclical hiring industries, with notable expansions in sectors like professional and business services, health care, and retail trade. After an uptick in layoffs, tech talent is being picked up by other industries

Tech Talent Reshuffles Employment in tech has added 15k jobs in January. Employers in industries outside of tech look to pick up laid off tech talent.

Download our guide to recruiting tech talent to learn how to win over this pool of candidates.

January’s unemployment rate, holding steady at 3.7%, marks a 24-month low and remains below 4% – a 50-year record. This is considered a sign of economic strength, surpassing the Federal Reserve’s forecasted rate of 4.6%.


As leaders in University Recruiting, a nuanced understanding of prevailing trends is critical for steering your teams towards success. The recent surge in college enrollment, coupled with a resilient job market, opens up exciting possibilities for early career professionals and those seeking new opportunities. As we navigate the chapters of 2024, success in university recruiting hinges on adaptability, a deep awareness of market dynamics, and a commitment to fostering robust connections between academia and industry.

Learn how to tackle the 6 challenges facing UR teams in 2024

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