By Anne Fisher, contributor
FORTUNE -- If you’re a newly-minted college grad (or the parent of one), you’ve probably already heard the welcome news that entry-level hiring is making a comeback. After an 11% decrease in 2010, the number of fresh bachelor’s degree holders finding jobs this year jumped 22%, to 35,372, or 8% more than in 2009.
That’s according to research from career site CollegeGrad.com, which publishes an annual list of the U.S. organizations that bring the most new grads on board.
Enterprise Rent-a-Car, currently planning to snap up about 8,500 young go-getters, has held the top slot on this list for five straight years. Second in the 2011 ranking is Teach for America, with 4,925, followed by Verizon Wireless (4,250) (vz), and Hertz (4,000) (htz).
PricewaterhouseCoopers, coming in at no. 5, plans to add 3,938 new grads, nearly triple the number the firm hired last year.
A close look at the list, which includes a total of 93 organizations, reveals a couple of surprises.
An analysis of the majors employers want most, by CollegeGrad.com’s partner site Schools.com, shows that -- as you’d probably guess -- business administration, engineering, and marketing are most coveted.
Yet that doesn’t mean there are no jobs for grads who studied other subjects. Teach for America, for instance, favors new hires with degrees in history and psychology, while Verizon is looking for creative types who majored in liberal arts, fine arts, and music.
Many students believe their grades are of paramount importance to employers, but the CollegeGrad.com survey suggests that just isn’t so. Asked to list their main hiring criteria, none of the top five except Teach for America gave a stellar GPA as the top requirement.
So what did the others say they care about? Three factors: the right major, internship experience, and good interviewing and communications skills.
The survey also yielded unexpected results in how employers prefer to recruit. CollegeGrad.com’s researchers admit that they thought online sources, especially social media sites, would dominate.
Instead, the overwhelming majority of employers prefer to pick job candidates by going to plain, old-fashioned, on-campus career fairs, where recruiters meet and greet candidates in person.
In at least this respect, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
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