How to Attract New College Graduates from the Class of 2023
Workspan Daily
April 20, 2023
Key Takeaways

  • Competition for college talent. Employers anticipate hiring 15% more college graduates from the Class of 2023 than they did from the previous year.  
  • Offer strong benefits to appeal to college grads. Attractive benefits to college graduates include a student loan debt reimbursement program and emergency savings program.  
  • In-office work is more desired. Only one-third of Gen Z workers want to work remotely, so companies can emphasize their office culture as a benefit. 

The next wave of talent is set to graduate college and enter the job market next month, and employers are set to pounce.  

Organizations plan to hire 15% more college graduates from the Class of 2023 than they did the previous year, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). However, as with any new group entering the workforce, what attracts them to a job differs slightly from the existing workforce’s priorities.  

From an employer perspective, a Robert Half survey of 2,175 hiring managers identified several key actions organizations will be looking for during the hiring process.  

The research found that hiring teams are placing less emphasis on technical skills by asking situational questions to gauge soft skills such as collaboration and self-motivation. Companies also prefer candidates who research the company in advance (67%), maintain a respectable online presence (51%) and write thank-you notes after their interview (49%). And, despite the increased presence of remote work post-pandemic, just 29% of entry-level jobs are hybrid or remote. 

Attracting College Talent 

As employers strategize ways to attract new talent, they should consider what’s important to them, which starts with prioritizing their well-being and personal development.  

Barrett Scruggs, vice president of workplace financial well-being at SoFi at Work, noted that 81% of 2023 college grads indicated that great benefits make them more likely to pursue a job. That’s why employers should reevaluate their workplace perks and benefit offerings to attract top talent.  

Laura Mills, head of early careers insights at student-recruitment consultant Forage, said employers that offer some form of student loan reimbursement also have a leg up on the competition for college talent. In addition, having career pathing resources and strong development opportunities is desired.  

“Generous time off and learning and development opportunities appeal to many job seekers,” Mills said.  

According to Scruggs, an emergency savings account is an additional benefit to consider. This allows employees to auto-transfer funds from their paycheck into a separate emergency savings account, and it’s a low-cost, high-reward option for companies to consider, he said.   

Aside from benefits, employees also want to relate to a company’s values and purpose. Demonstrating “positive community and social impact is an important attraction factor for today’s college students,” Scruggs said.  

In-Office Work  

Remote and hybrid work has been a hot-button topic since the pandemic, and today, where people work is still an important topic of discussion. A recent Joblist survey of 29,000 job seekers found about one-third of Gen Z employees want to work fully remotely, compared to nearly 50% of Millennials and 40% of Gen X and Baby Boomers, Scruggs noted.  

New college grads may prefer to work in an office more than more experienced workers because they “don’t have as much experience in an in-person work environment and there are benefits to being in an office setting,” Mills said.   

Mills recommends using recent college graduates’ desire to work in the office to your benefit.  

“Companies with in-person work policies can emphasize the benefits of working in-person,” she said, “such as learning and development programs, forming strong relationships and experiencing company culture.” 

However, while more Gen Z employees may want to work in the office, it doesn’t mean they want a typical 9-5 schedule. So, it’s advisable for employers to have a semblance of implied flexibility.   

“Flexible and remote working arrangements are important considerations,” Scruggs said. “Employers should consider a flexible strategy that meets the unique needs and desires of their workforce.” 

Editor’s Note: Additional Content 

For more information and resources related to this article see the pages below, which offer quick access to all WorldatWork content on these topics: 

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