With the job market at the forefront of any economy-related discussion, it's hard to imagine that things could be great for new grads. For those who have graduated in winter and are ready to be hired in early 2012, the outlook seems especially bleak. There are, however, companies that are not only doing well, but are also expanding their workforces now and into the next year. Here are some of the industries (many of which include top 500 brands) that will be scouting out the best recruits.

TUTORIAL: Financial Careers

As boomers get into old age and require even more specialized care, the demand for qualified and energetic care providers will continue to rise. As a result, January will mark the beginning of another year of increase for the healthcare job market. Positions like licensed social workers and medical assistants will be popular on job boards, and many of the largest companies will lead the hiring trend. New kinds of jobs like telemedicine design will be popping up as well. Manufacturing and marketing company GlobalMed says it is expanding now and will continue to after the end of the year. Grads don't have to go for a four or eight-year degree to experience the open arms of HR managers in the healthcare field; nursing assistants and other positions that require only a certificate, license or two-year trade degree can also enjoy the extra work. (For more, read 9 Businesses That Thrive In Recession.)

While it might not be prudent for new grads to wait until January to try for jobs, it's safe to assume that not all positions will be filled in the remainder of 2011. According to Careerbuilder, the finance companies who are hiring heavily now, and may also be likely to be filling positions in 2012, include Morgan Stanley Smith Barney and Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) (which on its own has a need for over 10,000 new hires.) Positions include personal bankers, underwriters and financial advisors – all of which have been traditionally filled by new grads.

Skilled Trades
Highly-specialized trade jobs are becoming very hard to fill, and company reps have expressed concern over just how skimpy the pool of qualified applicants for these careers really is. As students with generalized bachelor's degrees wait in line for hours at career fairs, trade school graduates have their pick of jobs from industries that require welders, pipe fitters and machinists. Until more students choose trade-based education paths, the demand by employers will far outweigh the supply of trained grad students. Johnson Controls, for example, has several skilled worker positions listed on its careers page, and even offers a competitive college recruitment program to attract new talent. In general, we can expect to see many of these skilled positions being advertised until they're filled - which will likely take until next year. (For more, read How Education And Training Affect The Economy.)

The Bottom Line
As the country gears up for another presidential election in 2012, some speculate that big companies will be holding their breaths (and their efforts to hire aggressively) until well into the New Year; job boards, industry experts and common sense say otherwise. Business as usual is taking place in many of the top 500 companies in select growing industries, and that's great news for grads. (For more, read Tap Into Your Secret Job Market, Set Your Skills, Not Your Degree, and 6 Steps To Successfully Switching Financial Careers.)

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