According to the 2008 NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) Graduating Student Survey, the job/employer attributes students valued most were opportunities for advancement and job security. Equally surprising to me–insurance packages came in third…THIRD! I don’t know about you, but when I graduated from college oh-so-many-years ago, insurance was probably the furthest thing from my mind. In fact, at 35 and single, I wouldn’t put insurance coverage in my top 10. Friendly co-workers and location round out the top 5.
So what’s this mean to you when you’re trying to attract freshly-minted graduates? Your ability to highlight clearly defined paths for career advancement is critical. If job promotions are usually filled from within, let candidates know that during the interview process. Give them an idea of typical timelines for promotions (if they’re faster than competitors, better yet). Highlight the variety of career path options available (if they ARE available), which is particularly attractive to the many job candidates who aren’t clear about their career focus at graduation.
Job security is a tougher sell…especially given the current state of the economy. Today’s graduates realize there are no guarantees when it comes to job security, but they’d still like to know they’re joining a business that isn’t going to dissolve before they finish new employee orientation. If your firm has a history of protecting their employees in tough economic times, let them know.
With an understanding of the priorities of today’s graduates, you can (and should) develop recruiting strategies to address them. Tapping into the results of the annual NACE survey annually would also be a good idea, because priorities will likely change in the future. Who knows? Maybe in a few years students may actually care about job content.
Shawn Graham is an Associate Director with the MBA Career Management Center at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School and author of Courting Your Career: Match Yourself with the Perfect Job (www.courtingyourcareer.com).