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TDWI Upside - Where Data Means Business

Study of College Graduates Gives Clues to Finding Talent

A new survey of recent college graduates reveals facts about their job search and expectations, which can help enterprises in their search for new staff.

Looking for fresh talent? A new survey by LendEDU sheds light on what 1,000 graduates from the class of 2018 are looking for, what jobs they’re accepting, and the environment they’re interested in.

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The firm, which describes itself as “a marketplace for private student loans, student loan refinancing and consolidation, and personal loans, among other financial products,” commissioned the survey that Pollfish conducted between June 20 and July 6, 2018. The survey targeted Americans aged 18 to 24 who graduated from a four-year college in 2018.

Looking for Work

Of those surveyed, 41 percent have already found a full-time job at which they are currently or will soon be working. A quarter (24 percent) are delaying employment, either taking the summer or up to a year off to travel or figure out their future plans. More than a third (34 percent) of respondents are currently looking for work.

LendEDU found that 17 percent of now-employed graduates are working in the medical/health fields, 15 percent in education, 13 percent in finance or business, and 11 percent in tech.

It may not be what you know as much as it is whom you know when it comes to finding work. When those now working were asked how they found their full-time job, more than a quarter (28 percent) found it through a family member or friend, 21 percent had interned at the company, 21 percent found the job through their college's career program, and 14 percent found the job “randomly through LinkedIn, Indeed, or other job site.”

Don’t expect lifelong employees. When employed graduates were asked how long they envision themselves at their new job, a quarter said just six months to a year, with another 28 percent saying “up to three years.” One in ten said they “would leave as soon as a better opportunity arises.”

Graduates who haven’t found employment yet may be considering going back to school to pursue an advanced degree and improve their employment chances. Over a third (36 percent) are actively considering this possibility, and it’s on the mind of another 28 percent.

In fact, a LendEDU spokesman told Upside, "For many 2018 graduates that have yet to find employment, returning to school for a graduate degree is a very likely scenario. Only 17 percent of these respondents gave a definite ‘no’ to the option of going back to school. In today's world, having just a bachelor's degree is not the separator it once was because almost all entry-level job applicants have one. Having that extra level of education can be what puts their resume ahead of the others in the pile.”

Choosing a Path

Recruiters mention that matching candidates with a company’s environment is key to employee happiness and productivity. Nearly 45 percent of all graduates say they’re looking for a collaborative environment; 29 percent are looking for a competitive one. Job security is more important than excellent benefits -- 58 percent to 23 percent (the remainder are unsure).

What type of company would they like to work for? Overwhelmingly, a “larger, more established company” (55 percent), followed by a “very small start-up” (25 percent); 20 percent are unsure.

Other perks graduates are looking for: good pay (45 percent), “doing something I am passionate about” (22 percent), a good training program (11 percent), and excellent benefits (9 percent).

Salary expectations are mostly in line with actual salaries secured. LendEDU’s analysis concluded that “For the most part, 2018 graduates seem to have their first full-time salaries well-pegged. The biggest discrepancy between expectations and reality came with 24.71 percent of yet-to-be hired graduates expecting to make $35,000 or lower, while 33.41 percent of hired graduates were actually making this salary.”

That’s food for hiring thought.

About the Author

James E. Powell is the editorial director of TDWI, including research reports, the Business Intelligence Journal, and Upside newsletter. You can contact him via email here.

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