There’s plenty of good news for the class of 2022: Record numbers of people voluntarily quitting their jobs means there are more openings. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers Job Outlook 2022 report, employers plan to hire 26.6% more new people from this year’s graduating class than they did from the class of 2021.
“I’m really optimistic and happy for these grads because they’re entering a workforce and a job market completely different than it was two years ago, and even a year ago,” says Vicki Salemi, career expert for the job-search site Monster. “Two years ago, people were losing their jobs or being furloughed. The people who had jobs were pretty much staying put. College students were seeing opportunities vanish, or they morphed into remote opportunities overnight.”
This graduating class, however, is entering a workforce that’s accustomed to now working remotely or working in a hybrid situation. And it’s not necessarily an adjustment for them after going to school online or having remote internships.
With a strong hiring market, does one side—candidate or employer—have an advantage? A survey from Monster found that 57% of employers say job-seekers have the upper hand in today’s entry-level job market.
“It’s a hot job market,” says Salemi. “About three out of four employers have increased entry-level salaries in the past year to attract candidates.”
Employers are so anxious to hire graduates, they’re considering candidates who previously ghosted them, says Salemi. “As a former corporate recruiter, I would never consider someone who had ghosted me,” she says. “But if you’re still a viable candidate, recruiters are willing to overlook it because there’s a skills and talent shortage.”
What This Means for Grads
New graduates don’t think they’re necessarily in the driver’s seat. In the Monster survey, 58% of recent (and soon-to-be) grads said that it’s the employers who have the leverage in today’s entry-level job market. Since both sides think the other has an advantage, each should go into the interview process prepared.
Salemi says grads still have to be prepared to stand out, and what employers are looking for hasn’t changed. “They’re looking for someone who’s eager, excited, and enthusiastic about their company and the role,” she says. “It’s still the bread and butter of recruiting.”
Today, employers also want candidates who ask about work-life balance, and Salemi suggests asking questions that once felt taboo, such as the amount of paid time off, flexible working arrangements, and how the company helps employees avoid burnout.
“Both the candidate and the employer are looking for the right fit,” she says. “It’s important for the job seeker to retain their power. The interview is a chance for them to evaluate the company the same way they’re being evaluated.”
Salemi suggests researching the company thoroughly, including the company’s website and social media feeds.
“Gen-Zers are digital natives, and they should leverage their skills and do a deep dive into the companies that they’re interviewing for,” says Salemi. “See if they get a sense of the culture, and then see how they can stand out and make sure that they’re presenting themselves in the best light.”
The goal for recruiters is to meet somewhere in the middle, so both parties are bringing value to the table and getting value in return. Companies should be ready to offer the new hires a mentor, especially if they didn’t have an internship over the past two summers due to COVID-19 and may not be accustomed to workplace expectations, says Salemi.
“If it’s their first time working full time among coworkers in-person or in a hybrid arrangement, that can be an adjustment,” says Salemi. “Having a buddy or mentor to be that go-to person that’s not necessarily their boss provides training and growth opportunities. Employers should provide support and resources to foster that growth to build engagement.”
In today’s job market, job hopping isn’t the red flag that it used to be, and Salemi says employers need to recognize that everyone is a flight risk.
“If you’ve provided support, resources, and a culture that’s engaging, open, honest, and transparent, you’re doing what you can to engage employees,” she says. “It’s important to see employees as people first and workers second.”