(BOSTON) -- Employment prospects for new college graduates are better now than at any time since the start of the recession, say college placement directors, employment experts and students themselves.
In fact, a just-released study of 225 employers by Boston research company Millennial Branding finds 87 percent of employers say they will hire more new graduates this year than last. Almost as many say that in the past six months they have already hired up to 25 new graduates each.
The study is a first for Millennial, which consults companies on the characteristics of Generation-Y. The survey drew on data compiled by Experience, Inc., a provider of career services for some five million current students and recent graduates.
Dan Schawbel, Millennial's founder, says that while the job picture is brightening, it's not yet back to where it was before the recession. Young job seekers, he says, still need to be realistic about their prospects.
"The message of our survey is that you can't rely on anything anymore. Getting a degree doesn't mean you'll get a job. Getting an internship doesn't mean you'll get a job," Schawbel says.
The most successful candidates, he says, are those who, as undergraduates, pulled out all the stops: "You've got to get as many internships as you possibly can. Use social networks. Use your family and your friends."
As far as skills and attributes, what are employers looking for? Schawbel says 29 percent of companies say they want somebody with entrepreneurial experience.
"Ten years ago," he says, "that number wouldn't have been anywhere near as high." What's changed, he says, is that companies now need "to innovate or die." There's more pressure on them to come up with new products and services.
Successful seekers, says Schawbel, don't necessarily have to have started a business. They just need to present their experience in a way that shows they have initiative and creative ability -- that they are "independent minded."
"Maybe you started your own blog. Maybe you've freelanced or you created your own internship," Schawbel says. Any of those, he explains, would carry weight with an employer.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio