Class of ’17 Have Strong Job Outlook, but Set Sights High

Class of ’17 Have Strong Job Outlook, but Set Sights High

This year’s crop of college graduates, some of the first recognized members of Generation Z to enter the workforce, are doing so at an opportune moment. In the US, the college wage premium has never been higher, meaning these grads stand to earn much more than their peers without degrees. The graduate hiring market is also robust, with CareerBuilder reporting last month that 74 percent of employers plan to hire recent college graduates this year, the best outlook since 2007 and seven percentage points above last year’s figure. In terms of pay, CareerBuilder found that half of employers plan to pay graduates higher salaries this year than last, and 39 percent will pay starting salaries of $50,000 or more a year, up from 27 percent last year.

However, the job search site also found that “some employers are concerned that new college grads may not be ready for the workforce”:

Seventeen percent do not feel academic institutions are adequately preparing students for roles needed within their organizations, a decrease from 24 percent last year. When asked where academic institutions fall short, these employers cited the following concerns:

  • Too much emphasis on book learning instead of real-world learning: 44 percent
  • I need workers with a blend of technical skills and those skills gained from liberal arts: 38 percent
  • Entry-level roles within my organization are more complex today: 23 percent
  • Technology is changing too quickly for an academic environment to keep up: 17 percent
  • Not enough focus on internships: 17 percent
  • Not enough students are graduating with the degrees my company needs: 12 percent

Meanwhile, Fast Company’s Lydia Dishman flags another new survey from iCIMS, which finds that graduates have high expectations for their job prospects, but even in today’s employee-driven labor market, these expectations may be a bit unrealistic:

A new survey from talent acquisition platform iCIMS reveals that an overwhelming majority (91%) of the 400-plus college seniors surveyed think they can land the job they want with the skills they have, and on average, expect to earn in excess of $53,000 per year in their first jobs. (Female graduates are hedging their salary bets–while 62% of men surveyed expect to earn $50,000 or more, only 49% of women expect to earn that wage.) …

But graduates’ optimism may not be very realistic. The iCIMS report also surveyed 400-plus recruiters, and less than a quarter of them said they paid entry-level employees over $50,000. The average salary they reported was just over $45,000. What’s more, the recruiters found that as in years past, new graduates didn’t have the skills they were looking for. Ninety-eight percent of recruiters said they get resumes from applicants that are not qualified for the position.

Other interesting findings from the iCIMS survey included that 81 percent of grads were willing to take a job outside their field of study, and that 62 percent expect to stay in their first job for at least three years. At the same time, these newcomers to the workforce expect more from their employers in terms of on-the-job learning, meaningful and challenging work, and attention to their work-life balance.