Every spring, the talent acquisition software company iCIMS surveys college graduates in the US to gauge their expectations and ambitions as they prepare to enter the workforce. This year’s survey, which SHRM’s Roy Maurer flagged earlier this week, finds that this year’s graduating class is expecting higher starting salaries than their peers in recent years: On average, they expect to earn $54,010 in their first job, slightly more than the class of 2017 and almost $8,000 more than the class of 2016. Last year’s graduates were a bit unrealistic in their pay expectations, despite a tight labor market, with recruiters reporting starting salaries well below grads’ aspirations.
This year, Maurer notes, employers’ pursestrings are looking a little looser:
“This year’s graduates are confident in their ability to find the job they want after graduation, and a well-paying one at that,” said Susan Vitale, chief marketing officer at iCIMS. … The data revealed that recruiters estimate they will pay entry-level employees $56,532 on average this year—a substantial jump of more than $10,000 since last year, when the estimate was $45,361 on average. “For employers, even with an abundance of educated candidates, nearly 80 percent of recruiters are finding filling entry-level positions more challenging than they did three years ago,” Vitale said. “In response, recruiters have upped their game by offering better salaries and benefits, increasing training and development, and enhancing their employee referral programs.”
Maurer also highlights another survey from Yello, which found that a majority of graduates were putting priority on career advancement in their first job searches. Nearly half of respondents to the Yello survey said they were planning to stay with their first employer for more than three years, in another point of evidence against the myth of the millennial job hopper (though these graduates might properly be classified as members of Generation Z). These findings, Yello CEO and co-founder Jason Weingarten told Maurer, suggest that recruiters should be focusing their value propositions for graduates on opportunities for long-term growth and development. Some employers are already responding to the demand these surveys show for higher salaries and clear career paths, such as Morgan Stanley, which recently raised starting pay and accelerated the promotion path for its junior investment bankers.
As millennials grew into the largest generation in the workforce over the past few years, we’ve been treated to a deluge of breathless media coverage about how uniquely difficult they were to deal with and how they were ruining everything. From chain restaurants to jewelry, along with job loyalty and the 9-to-5 workday, the list of American institutions millennials are charged with killing is nearly endless. Meanwhile, business leaders have wrestled with the seemingly vast complexities their entry to the workforce has created. Most of the work-related challenges have proven to be more myth than truth, as our research at CEB (now Gartner) has found, along with other investigations by the Economist and the Pew Research Center, but the conventional wisdom endures that millennials are entitled, need constant hand-holding, and are therefore unusually hard to manage.
It appears the newest generation entering the workforce, Generation Z, is being similarly prejudged, according a recent survey of managers profiled by SHRM’s Dana Wilkie. In it, 36 percent of managers said they believed that Generation Z would be more difficult to manage than previous generations, while 29 percent believe it will be more difficult to train employees from Generation Z, 26 percent say it will be more difficult to communicate with the newest generation, and even 20 percent of millennial managers believe Generation Z represents a threat to company culture.
“There is a tendency and expectation of instantaneous gratification,” said Jeff Corbin, CEO of APPrise Mobile, the employee communications company which conducted the study. “They want the answers now. They are all about tweets and short responses. As a result, many Gen Zers are going to be too quick to respond rather than deliberate and thoughtful. … [T]he concept of professionalism, formality and quality in communications may be a foreign one to many in Gen Z, which could be problematic to older generations.”
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Conventional wisdom holds that younger millennials and members of “Generation Z,” the oldest of whom are just entering the workforce, are “digital natives” who have never known a world without home computers, the Internet, and other commonplace digital technology. As such, it is often assumed that these “natives” have a different relationship to these technologies than those of us who had to learn to use them as adults (or as teenagers, in the case of “old millennials”). Digital natives expect technology to touch every aspect of their lives and to work seamlessly, the wisdom holds, and become frustrated when it doesn’t conform to their expectations. They are also understood to be more comfortable with digital multitasking.
However, a paper published recently in the journal Teaching and Teacher Education calls the entire narrative of the digital native into question, mustering “scientific evidence showing that there is no such thing as a digital native who is information-skilled simply because (s)he has never known a world that was not digital,” according to its abstract:
It then proceeds to present evidence that one of the alleged abilities of students in this generation, the ability to multitask, does not exist and that designing education that assumes the presence of this ability hinders rather than helps learning. The article concludes by elaborating on possible implications of this for education/educational policy.
The paper comes to our attention by way of an editorial at Nature, whose authors point out that educators and employers alike may be over-investing in solutions targeted to digital natives whose needs may not be all that unique after all:
McDonald’s announced this week that the company and its franchises would hire about 250,000 employees across the US this summer, which is usually the busiest season for the fast food restaurant chain, the Chicago Tribune reports. This year, however, the chain is introducing a new twist on the hiring process and will be accepting short video applications through the social media platform Snapchat:
The chain started accepting “Snaplications” in Australia last month, allowing potential employees to make video submissions with a special filter that shows them wearing a McDonald’s uniform. The video audition can then be submitted to McDonald’s Snapchat account. After that, McDonald’s will send back a link to the application and digital careers page. …
McDonald’s said allowing applications through Snapchat will aid hiring efforts because many of its applicants are between the ages of 16 and 24. It will direct marketing about the application process to select Snapchat users nationwide starting Tuesday. The company also is using other platforms like Spotify and Hulu to reach potential job seekers.
Using Snapchat to target a younger pool of candidates makes sense, as the platform’s user base is overwhelmingly in McDonald’s target age range. According to Hootsuite, 37 percent of Snapchat users are 18 to 24 years old, 60 percent of its users are under 25, and 23 percent have not graduated high school.
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 Monster takes a preliminary look at how members of Gen Z, now in high school or college, might behave once they enter the workforce in a few years’ time. Polly Mosendz at Bloomberg highlights the key findings, which include a claim that Gen Z “is more willing to work longer hours and weekends than their elders are”:
Of more than 2,000 people surveyed, 58 percent of Generation Zers said they would come into work on evenings and weekends in exchange for a bigger paycheck, compared with 45 percent of millennials, 40 percent of Generation X, and 33 percent of boomers. That’s not entirely surprising: They’ve got youth on their side and are generally not burdened with child-care responsibilities that make working irregular hours difficult for their generational predecessors.
Among the generations, Zers surveyed were the most motivated by money, although 74 percent of them said work should have a greater purpose than earning a salary, compared to 45 percent of millennials, 40 percent of Generation X, and 33 percent of boomers.
Brands seeking to recruit young blood should consider forgoing the beer fridge and ping pong table in exchange for a good old-fashioned health plan. While Gen Z might be more energetic and money-hungry than the rest, its first job requirements are reminiscent of generations before them. Seventy percent of those surveyed said their top priority is health insurance, followed by a competitive wage, a boss they respect, room for growth, and parental leave.
Lucinda Shen at Fortune focuses on what businesses need to do to get ready to engage with this cohort: