For graduating college seniors, this summer's job market could well be the best in years.

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Healthy corporate balance sheets, retiring baby boomers and a sudden willingness to recruit and train all mean workers are in short supply and wages are starting to rise.

In great demand are engineers and technology workers (no surprise there) but also accountants due to the increased need for financial controls and reporting, says John Challenger of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the Chicago outplacement firm.

But it's not just trade workers who have a shot at better jobs. Liberal arts majors, who may have suffered in the past few years as companies cut back on hiring unskilled grads, are needed in sales, marketing, human resources and public service. Even manufacturing (outside of automobiles) is adding jobs.

"Right now the economy, from a jobs standpoint, is near full employment," says Challenger.

Not having a particular career in mind isn't a handicap, either. Unless you picked up a particular set of skills in school, he suggests choosing a job based primarily on the company's work culture and the people for whom you want to work.

And with the market rallying in your favor, college seniors shouldn't be afraid to put off graduate or professional school and get two years' worth of job experience.

For those with a year or two left in school, finding summer work or an internship can help pave the way for your entry into the job market.

National companies that recruit furiously picked their summer interns long ago, says Liz Michaels of the University of Chicago's Career Advising and Planning Services. But that still leaves plenty of opportunities with local industry and non-profits, which often find out their budgets for summer workers late in the school year.

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