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College Grad Season Is Here: How to Hire Top Talent



  • Recruiting

College Grad Season Is Here: How to Hire Top Talent

Grad season for college graduates is an exciting time, as friends and family watch loved ones walk the graduation stage and begin a new, independent life. 

For HR pros, grad season is something different: It’s the time of year when they work to secure young, top talent as they start their professional careers.

As about 4 million college students gear up to graduate, they’re on the hunt for positions in a competitive labor market. 

Hiring of new college graduates is expected to remain stable this year compared to last year, according to research from Gusto. New graduates are less likely to work fully remotely than comparable workers in their 30s, the same research says, and the hiring rate is expected to peak at the same level as last year.

Even though a new class of grads emerges every year, attracting top young talent is a dynamic effort that can change year to year. Between remote work wars and pay transparency efforts, there are many factors you should consider when hiring this grad season. 

Here’s how you can convince the best college talent to join your team.  

What college grads really want

“Every year brings new positives and negatives when hiring recent college grads,” says Matt Thomas, president of WorkSmart Systems. “It’s important for hiring managers to ensure they take the extra steps to guarantee a smooth hiring process resulting in the best candidate possible.” 

In the past, new college grads were lured into the corporate world with cushy perks like snack bars and ping-pong tables, but that’s not enough anymore. This is especially true for Gen Z, who are more likely to care about company culture, inclusion and wellness in the workplace than generations before them. 

New grads are also more focused on their professional development, and they want learning opportunities and mentorship. 

They also want to work for employers that have strong reputations, says research from Handshake. And they’re applying for fewer tech jobs and more government jobs, that research says.

The survey says …

The following factors made new graduates more likely to apply for a job, the Handshake data added:

  • Job stability (76%)
  • Location (75%)
  • Employer reputation (72%)
  • Good starting salary (71%)
  • Flexible schedule (61%)
  • Hybrid work schedule (46%)
  • Familiar company brand (28%)
  • Fast-growing company (21%).

The Handshake research also lists top reasons why new graduates are committing to job opportunities, as follows:

  • Ability to grow skills (69%)
  • Opportunity to advance career goals (61%)
  • Passion for the work (54%)
  • Financial reasons (47%)
  • Job location (46%)
  • It was the only offer (19%).

The Gusto research also took a look at which particular cities were most appealing to new college grads. According to that research, New York City had the highest share of new college grad hiring. In fact, it said New York City alone accounted for nearly 10% or all new grad hiring over the past year.

Of course that does not mean New York City is the place where the dollar stretches the furthest. Gusto said Austin, Texas, is the winner in that department. When the cost of living is taken into account, Gusto said, new graduates in Austin make $58,000 annually as compared to $28,000 for new graduates who choose New York City as their destination.

“Over the past few years, companies have made great strides in offering their employees growth opportunities both in and out of the office. However, some companies are not sure how to publicize these opportunities and their company brand other than during the interview process,” says Thomas. This can mean that new grads pass by companies that may be the perfect fit because they don’t realize how well the company aligns with their goals.

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