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What New College Grads Really Want

The class of 2022 has dealt with a number of challenges to get to this point, but it’s finally here: graduation and entry into the workforce. As companies prepare to recruit and hire from the latest pool of college grads,  it’s important to remember the three things that these graduates are really looking for in their first post-college jobs: benefits, career development, and culture.


New Grads Want Tangible Benefits

The class of 2022 isn’t shy about looking for jobs that pay well. The Wall Street Journal describes the latest crop of college grads as “part of a generation that experts say is risk-averse and craves financial security.” Considering the defining events of their generation (the 2007-2009 financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as bouts of inflation), it’s no wonder that this generation is seeking assurance that they will be paid a respectable living wage and competitive benefits.


Recent graduates are also looking for honesty from companies throughout the hiring process. Of course, pay transparency is part of the equation, as employees (especially those of younger generations) increasingly seek out companies that are up-front about pay structure. However, that’s not the only kind of transparency new grads are seeking. They want to know exactly what potential roles will entail in hopes of avoiding a “bait-and-switch” situation or one where the role has no clear direction.


The last major benefit the class of 2022 craves is flexibility. A survey by TimelyMD, a virtual wellness provider, found that 68% of college seniors consider flexibility to be very important in a job. Similarly, staffing and recruiting firm LaSalle found that two of the top three perks new grads seek are flexibility and remote work options – nearly 90% of respondents want flexibility.  Flexibility for new grads doesn’t necessarily translate to full-time remote positions. In fact, only 11% of surveyed seniors said they wanted full-time remote arrangements.


New Grads Want Career Development

While new grads are prioritizing benefits like salary and other work-life perks, they’re also looking for the factors that help them to start careers, not just jobs. LaSalle’s survey revealed that a full 40 percent of new graduates are looking for, or outright expect, some kind of promotion within a year of starting their new jobs. While not all organizations may be able to offer that specifically, new grads are likely to be attracted to robust training and mentorship programs, and opportunities for career development.


For companies looking to attract new grads, offering these kinds of opportunities can be a way to stand out in a competitive market. The National Association of Colleges and Employers Job Outlook 2022 report revealed that employers are planning to hire almost 27% more employees from this year’s population of grads than they did from the class of 2021. LaSalle’s study noted that almost half of new grads had received at least one job offer, but only 20 percent had accepted a position. This indicates that the class of 2022 is taking more time to evaluate options and look for a great fit, not just “any” fit.


New Grads Want to Build a Better Culture

Social issues are of particular concern to the class of 2022, and those concerns play a role in their job search as well. Many new grads are looking for roles where they can make a difference – or, at the very least, where their differences are welcomed and celebrated. Consistent with this, these prospective employees are likely to ask questions about companies’ stances on social issues, their work on DEI and sustainability, and their demographics.


The class of 2022 is part of a highly media-savvy generation, so companies should expect that prospective employees from this group will be doing their research on company culture. Standing out will be about demonstrating a clear commitment to doing the work and ensuring that all employees have the opportunity to excel.


By Ruben Moreno


About the Author

After a 25-year career in Corporate Human Resources and HR Executive Search, Ruben Moreno and his two partners co-founded Blue Rock Search based on a simple but ambitious vision of creating a firm that would “Change Lives and Organizations One Relationship at a Time.”  Ruben leads the Blue Rock HR Executive Search practice specializing in the identification, assessment, recruitment, and onboarding of Chief HR Officers and Chief Diversity Officers and their respective teams — inclusive of leaders in Talent Acquisition, Total Rewards, HRBP’s, Learning & OD, HR Technology, HR Operations, and HR Analytics. Ruben has helped place hundreds of HR Executives and built deep relationships within the CHRO community across multiple industry verticals. His clients consider him a trusted partner who takes the time to understand their business and add value beyond executive search.

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