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Employer Hot Topics

Employer Hot Topics

Preferred employers and jobs: what are college graduates looking for?

In a Student Survey: The Job/Employer Preferences of the Class of 2014 from NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers), more than 10,000 respondents’ preferences for work environments was captured.

Top Employer/Work environment attribute          % rating as Very or Extremely Important to them

Opportunity for personal growth                                                92%

Job Security                                                                               84.5

Friendly co-workers                                                                   84.3

Good benefits* package                                                            79.3

*More about this in an upcoming blog article!

So, for you employers that lead with and tout your starting salary, or salary plus bonus figures, note that “high starting salary” does not appear in this list of top four.   In fact, you would have to go down to 10th place to find that only 52% of student respondents ranked this as Very or Extremely Important to them.


How have attitudes changed from the Class of 2013 to the Class of 2014?

Values/preferences rated as Very or Extremely Important with the largest percent change from 2013 to 2014:

  • High starting salary (+6%)
  • Located close to home (+5.2%)
  • Diversity (+5%)
  • Casual atmosphere (+4.7%)

Maybe an obviously better college job market gives students the confidence to increase preference for high salary, but it still doesn’t come close to the Top 5.

If more college grads want to live and work close to home, that says to employers, “shop locally”!   Get to know the bachelors/master’s degree granting institutions in your own backyard and spend time there.

Finally, an increase in an appreciation for diversity comes as no surprise to people who follow current events and demographics.   These graduates want their workplaces to reflect the broader world.

  • Source: NACE
  • Timing of Survey: February – April 2014
  • Respondents: 10, 210 bachelor’s degree seniors graduating by August 2014
Employer Hot Topics

Attracting the college candidate – Part II

What kinds of activities will increase college students’ familiarity with you, and hence, potentially increase the number of college and new-college-grad applicants?

In Part I of this blog series, I was inspired by information from the December 2014 meeting of the Minnesota Association of Colleges and Employers.  This article was inspired by the students we heard from in a student panel at that event.

Students were asked about the kinds of things that really help them get to know an employer?         Booth area2

In-depth employer website.

Clear information about the product/service, organization mission, customers, staff, and positions.  Ideally, if you do much hiring of interns and entry-level professionals, having a College section of your Careers page that includes details about common roles, helps potential applicants understand you and your needs.

Appear at college campus events.

Whether career fairs, campus interviews, information tables, or presentations at student organization meetings, if you can be seen and heard, word will spread.

Extensive 2nd round interviews.

When a candidate is invited to final rounds of interviews at your site, meeting with a number of individuals, including even lunch with new hires, receiving a presentation about your values and services, and an extensive company tour are all very helpful in getting to know an employer.

On-boarding & New Employee Orientation.

Once hired, training and orientation activities are key.  Classroom style learning was cited by one college graduate as impressive (“it showed me that the company really cares about its employees”).  Never under-estimate the power of first impressions.  Keep in mind, these students have friends, and if they have a positive experience with you, they will tell them!

Employer Hot Topics

Attracting the college candidate – Part I

At the December 2014 meeting of the Minnesota Association of Colleges and Employers, the keynote speaker, Judy Zimmer (founder of Coachology), had us reflect on some questions.

Below are thoughts from myself, my small group, and the collective wisdom of participants to the question,

What gets in the way of attracting more college candidates?

Posted job description is complex and hard to understand.

  • Too much jargon or unknown acronyms
  • Content not tailored to a college student audience (acknowledging limited work experience)
  • Some internship postings are the same as the Full-time role description, but not adapted for an internship level

The level of technical skills desired may not be well-developed in a 19-21 year old yet

Your industry is unfamiliar to a college student because they have never directly purchased your service or product, e.g. Insurance

Lack of recognition of the employer (if you are not visible on social media, television commercials, web ads, billboards, radio or print ads, you may not be known to a college student)

We might feel frustration about the latter points?   But how do we assess job applicants?  Don’t we give favoritism to people with whom we are familiar, either directly or if they are recommended by someone we know?  What is the difference?  It’s about familiarity and comfort with the familiar.

Some of these things are beyond our control, other things we have more control over.

Being intentional about your employer branding efforts with young adults [See Part II of this blog article for more on this!], and tailoring job descriptions might help increase the number of these applicants?