What New Graduates Look For In An Employer

Every year, about 1.1 million recent college graduates enter the labor force. As they gear up to launch their careers, many recent grads explore what employers can offer them before they apply to jobs or accept job offers. So what are today’s recent grads looking for exactly?

One LinkedIn study found that many recent graduates care largely about where a job can take them. Beyond providing a means for paying bills, recent grads think long-term about how their first job can be a stepping stone for the rest of their career.

The latest cohorts of graduates are also mostly from Generation Z, so they have different attitudes and expectations towards employment that must be accounted for. One Deloitte report assessed the impact that Generation Z will have on the labor market and found that this group looks for employers that are aware of their external environment. This means that beyond skill-building and leadership development, Gen Z also wants employers that are socially and ethically conscious.

So how does this look in the workplace? Below, we’ve outlined some important things that new graduates look for in employers:

Career Development

Many recent grads are launching their careers and seek opportunities for mentorship and skill-building in their field. Employers that emphasize career training and leadership development appeal greatly to this demographic that wants more support to get their careers started.

Some recommended practices to implement include internal apprenticeship programs, certification programs, and leadership development meetings with senior employees.

Employers that demonstrate a commitment to growth and development are sure to stand out and appeal to recent graduates.

Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is on the minds of recent grads everywhere. In one LinkedIn survey, work-life balance topped the list, with 56% of new grads valuing and prioritizing personal and career-life balance when considering potential employers.

Work-life balance has been an ongoing discussion topic, and it is particularly relevant today as many remote workers struggle to find work-life balance remotely. One New York Post report found that 70% of remote workers in the US have had difficulty juggling their career and personal lives.

Many new grads may anticipate the added stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to the stress of transitioning out of school and into the labor force. Employers that show consideration for work-life balance through robust PTO policies, flexible scheduling, and mental health and wellness services are likely to catch the attention of new graduates.

Flexible Work Environments

Flexible scheduling policies are another major thing that new grads look for. This arrangement allows new grads to feel a sense of personal control over their environment while having the time and space to also meet their personal needs outside of work. Benefits of flexible scheduling include improved workplace morale, decreased turnover, and enhanced work-life balance.

One survey found that 80% of workers would turn down a job that didn’t offer flexible scheduling. 53% of those surveyed noted that their being able to choose their job location is more important than company prestige.

With the right tools and supports, recent grads can adjust to working in flexible work environments and have a schedule that works for them.

Healthy Work Culture

Company culture is a top priority for many new graduates. New grads are looking beyond colorful office walls and a break room full of snacks and ultimately seeking employers that foster cultures that supports their careers in long-term, tangible ways.

One analysis found that opportunities for growth is a must for new grads, in addition to work-life balance, competitive compensation, and opportunities for promotion. Recent graduates want a culture that values early-level talent by fostering, recognizing, and rewarding their hard work. Generation Z is future-focused, so a culture that actively promotes their growth very well aligns with what this demographic is looking for.

Benefits That Work For Them

Beyond a competitive salary, new grads are looking for robust benefits packages that align with their current career and life circumstances. Employers taking the time to provide benefits that align with Gen Z needs can go a long way to attracting top recent grad talent.

Some perks that new grads look for include student loan repayment, flexible work schedules, relaxed dress codes, and ongoing opportunities for professional development. These benefits are specifically tailored to new grads who often are transitioning out of school and seeking skill-building opportunities, flexibility, and student loan debt assistance.

Employers that offer benefits like these are more likely to catch the eye and appeal to recent graduates.