Major tech companies like Facebook and Google are cutting benefits, delaying hiring and fighting antitrust laws that could split the world’s most valuable companies. Add a looming global recession and it may seem like a bad time for new graduates to get the best jobs, or any job for that matter. But that doesn’t understand what undergraduate and graduate students want and the recruiting economy they’re entering.
Jobs – even technical jobs – are plentiful. And what’s important to new graduates isn’t what used to be prioritized.
Instead, students who have had their college experience marred by a deadly pandemic have different values from those who have gone before them. They need their jobs to embrace diversity and a good work-life balance. And new graduates aren’t afraid to ask what they want either. Many of them can even get it.
“Right now, we see a market where there are plenty of opportunities,” Nicole Hall, director of career and professional development at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, who works with undergraduate and graduate students, told Recode. Students, she said, are confident they will get jobs in the fields they want.
Even after a dip in August, there were more than 10 million vacancies, or about 1.7 vacancies for every job seeker according to the Labor Statistics Bureau. The unemployment rate is 3.7 percent, just above the 50-year low of 3.5 percent. As for the high-profile tech layoffs, the headlines belie the reality. Layoffs.fyi, a crowdsourced site that tracks business downsizing, found 83,000 technical layoffs this year, representing a drop in the ocean compared to the 9 million tech jobs in the US out there, according to CompTIA’s annual report.
The job market is still very strong for graduating students. Students receive an average of 1.14 job openings before graduation, according to a survey earlier this year by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) released this week. That is the highest number since before the Great Recession. Another NACE survey found that employers said last spring they planned to nearly 32 percent more new graduates from the class of 2022 than they hired from the class of 2021. College counselors say graduating students are also increasingly interested in graduation, internships, and starting their own businesses, meaning they have other options in addition to wealth of jobs.
All things considered, graduating students share a sense of optimism and demand more from their jobs than previous graduates. While these young people are concerned about their future, they are also quite confident that they will get the jobs they want, according to a recent survey. survey of students who expect to graduate in 2023 on Handshake, one of the top sites students use to search for work. About 80 percent say they believe they will find a well-paid and fulfilling job. Nearly 90 percent think they will get that job in the industry they want.
That doesn’t mean they take risks. Students apply early and for more jobs, with nearly half of Handshake respondents saying the economy has pushed them to fill more applications. Career counselors told Recode they see high attendance at job fairs and queuing at career counseling centers.
Gwen McKee, who studies UX design and will receive her master’s degree from the University of Michigan Information School in 2023, has already applied to about 30 jobs. She says she is concerned about outsourcing and staff cuts in her field.
“The jobs I know I want to apply for are next year, but I’m applying a lot now because I’m going crazy,” McKee said.
Her fears may be unfounded. College counselors say they should now advise students on how to handle multiple offers.
The prospects of recent graduates are also very different from those of the last generation who graduated during a major economic downturn in 2008 and 2009. Kelli Smith, who then worked in the careers service at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, said students were so discouraged that they didn’t even bother applying for the jobs that were there.
“It wasn’t a great job market for our students, and yet you’d think that would mean they’d just be screaming for on-campus interviews,” she said. Instead, they postponed their job search, went to high school, traveled, or got a job outside of their professional education.
That is no longer the case these days, as the mix of fear and optimism of students pushes them to try even harder.
“Our first day of class, our walk-ins were completely full. Our appointments were supported for almost a week,” said Smith, who is now acting director of the career center at Binghamton University.
These students increasingly have a good idea of what they want from a job.
What new graduates want
Tech jobs have certainly become more popular in recent years, due to wider changes in the economy and where the high paying jobs are. From 2016 to 2021, the proportion of Columbia Business School MBA students accepting jobs in engineering and the media increased from 10 to 17 percent, while all other sectors fell.
But technology isn’t everything for students. And big brand names don’t matter that much either. Students are more interested in having an impact on their work and in having work that they find meaningful and that makes the world a better place, no matter what industry they are in.
As UNC’s Hall sums it up, “Yes, I do the finances, but I want to work for a company that I know is doing some good in the world.”
While many of college students’ best job characteristics have remained similar over the past decade — job security, quality benefits — other more idealistic traits have emerged. According to a NACE survey, some of the key qualities that 2022 graduates want to get out of their jobs are an organization that embraces diversity and an organization that can make the world a better place. Salary has dropped to number 11. That’s not to say it’s unimportant – all other things being equal, students say salary cuts the ties – but it’s not their primary desire.
By mimicking the national conversation, students are also more concerned about work-life balance than ever before.
Gabe, a major in math finance graduating this spring from a liberal arts college in Texas, said he’s applied for more than 100 jobs not because he’s worried about getting one, but because he’s worried about getting one. find one with a good work-life balance. That’s hard to find in the financial world, where young analysts are known to work 80 or 100 hour weeks.
“Sixty is my absolute maximum, and honestly I’d rather take 50 or 40; 40 would be best,” said Gabe, asking us not to use his last name so as not to interfere with his job search.
About half of graduating students say they prefer to work in a hybrid environment, where they work from home some of the time, while another 11 percent would like to be completely remote, according to NACE. They believe that going to work from home – rather than having to commute – is more conducive to a healthy work-life balance.
Many of these desires are born of life in recent years. For some, the global pandemic and the death it caused emphasized that life is short and they should be doing something they enjoy — both at work and out of the office. The murder of George Floyd by the police and subsequent social justice movements such as Black Lives Matter reinforced students’ desire to fight for justice and put themselves to work. The company’s record profits in the face of layoffs of staff gave their ideas of justice a clue and a clue as to how their future bosses would behave as the economy moves south.
Alexios Avrassoglou, a senior at the University of Michigan majoring in industrial and operational engineering, looks at how companies treated their employees during the pandemic to decide where he wants to work.
“I’ve seen companies that have a lot of money, a lot of money, a lot of whatever, still lay off people, which is a common financial decision to make, but it’s not always necessary,” he said.
Growing graduate demand for progressive workplaces coupled with a tight job market has led to a situation where students are increasingly evaluating companies to see if they are a good cultural match and where they feel they can make a real impact.
To move beyond corporate platitudes, students are also increasingly turning to platforms like Handshake and Glassdoor, alongside their college friends, to find out what companies are like beyond what they say.
Students have always had these questions, says Larry Jackson, interim senior associate director at the University of California Berkeley Career Center. It’s just that the world has changed, and they’ve gotten easier to ask.
“The conversation has become more common in recent years,” Jackson said. “It doesn’t feel like they really disturb any type of terrain.”
In general, new graduates just seem to have a better idea of what they want than previous generations. Employers have generally also tried to comply, selling their corporate culture and offering options where these graduates can test different areas of the company or lead different initiatives. They encourage them to be open about who they are and what’s important to them, hoping to fill seats in a tough hiring economy.
Of course, if the economy gets really bad, graduate prospects can change and needs can turn into nice-to-haves. But their desire to get more out of a job is likely to remain the same even as the economy moves up and down. They graduate with a range of experience and a vocabulary about those experiences, and a willingness to use it.