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Graduates remain confident about finding a job but express job security concerns

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Although most college graduates feel confident about receiving a job offer soon after graduating, many also reported concerns about the competitive job market, the economy and career development opportunities, according to Monster’s 2024 State of the Graduate Report, which polled 1,000 new or upcoming college graduates.

About 67% of graduates believe employers have more leverage to find the best candidates than job seekers have to find the best jobs, as compared to 56% who said the same in 2023. In addition, 77% said they’re concerned about job security during the job search process, and half said they assume they won’t be able to find a job at the company they prefer.

“As we approach the Spring 2024 graduate season, it’s critical to understand how the newest additions to the workforce are approaching employment, and what they are expecting from employers,” Scott Gutz, CEO of Monster, said in the report overview.

“However, though graduates believe that employers have the upper hand in this landscape, they maintain core requirements that they are unwilling to compromise on while job hunting,” he said. “Some of the workplace aspects that this year’s graduates are most adamant about are work flexibility, mental health, and career development.”

Many respondents said they’re settling or anticipate settling on some conditions to secure a job. Many said they’d work in an office full time, take a lower salary than anticipated and accept a long commute — but fewer respondents for each than in 2023.

Overall, 85% said they applied for a job they knew wasn’t the right fit “out of desperation.” More than half said they did so because they needed the money. Others said they needed experience, were tired of searching for a job, needed to pay off student loans or faced pressure from their parents.

As they search, nearly all graduates said they’re interested in learning or upskilling programs when applying for a position. In fact, half said they would turn down a job at a company that doesn’t offer career growth opportunities, and a third said they would quit a job if not given opportunities to learn and develop in their position.

Among upskilling options, graduates said they’re interested in on-the-job training, ongoing certificate courses in the industry, mentorship programs, structured career development, job shadowing, job rotations, industry events and training repayment agreement provisions.

Hiring for entry-level positions is predicted to remain steady during the 2024 graduation season, according to a Robert Half report. Recent graduates and entry-level workers can drive innovation with new ideas and skills, a Robert Half executive said.

For about half of organizations, building a talent pipeline is the top priority for 2024, according to a Symphony Talent report. At the same time, 68% said it’s a challenge to reach the right target audience during recruitment. Referral programs and internal mobility can help, the report found.

Attrition has declined so far in 2024, and fewer workers plan to change jobs for the first half of the year, according to another Robert Half report. Employees said they plan to stay due to flexibility, fulfillment and good compensation.

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