Employee Retention Employee Recruitment

9 Things New Graduates Look For in Their Employers


As young professionals enter the job market with each graduation season, companies strive to hire the best and brightest talent. After spending years working towards a college degree, finding the right fit job is the next step for a new graduate’s personal growth and development. What does the right fit job look like for this generation?

Research on millennial employees has shown that job security isn’t as large of a priority as it once was. Now, factors like development, job flexibility and a feeling of belonging play a much larger role.

It’s important to know what the current generation considers when searching for their best fit – targeting the right talent will help you find stars that will accelerate your company growth in the long-term.

So, let’s dive right into it. Here’s a list of the most important things that graduates look for in new employers.


9 Things New Grads Look For

1. Compensation and Benefits

Compensation, as for every generation, is a high priority for new college and university graduates. 61% of recent college graduates consider compensation as a top factor in accepting a job role. As costs of living rises, job seekers want roles that provide them with guaranteed earnings and benefits such as medical insurance. 

Keep in mind that graduates are not looking for high compensation at the start of their employment. Make your job offer more desirable by including perks such as workplace amenities or an impactful employee recognition program. Most of all, young professionals seek to learn new skills that will lead to more competitive compensation opportunities in the future.


2. Career Path and Development

Compensation and benefits only bring value if graduates can see potential to growing their career within your organization. According to a study by Bright Network, graduates state that a clear path for advancement is more important than a competitive base salary or high future earnings. 

Graduates want to work in environments that help grow their knowledge and skill set. For instance, millennials and Gen-Z employees look to socialize and build networks with industry leaders who they can learn from. Aim to provide them with opportunities to develop professionally and as individuals, which in turn benefits your company. By including them in big picture goals, graduates will feel encouraged to innovate and bring fresh perspectives to your organization.

3. Corporate Culture and Values

Young graduates place importance on your company’s culture and values. They are looking to join organizations where they culturally fit in and whose values align with theirs. Prospective employees carefully assess aspects such as work atmosphere, leadership, friendliness, team dynamics, diversity and respect. In fact, an Accenture strategy survey shows that 59% of graduates would prefer to work at a company with a positive social atmosphere and receive a lower salary, rather than receive higher pay at a company that is less fun to work for.


4. Being Valued and Respected

According to Deloitte, millennials believe that fair employee treatment is the most important value for an organization’s long-term success. Graduates look for organizations where they feel appreciated, and rather than just occasional monetary bonuses, they like to receive more frequent validation for their work through verbal appraise or small rewards. More touch-points means more feedback – this encourages them to work harder and grow within the company. 

No matter how great the pay, employees are less likely to strive for bigger goals unless they align with the values of the company and feel respected by their employers.

Graduates look to work for companies whose employees seem happy and respected, and where they can get opportunities to take risks and own challenges.


5. Impact and Ethics

As a default, most employers define their long-term success by financial achievements, but young graduates’ priorities lie elsewhere. Today’s youth advocates for environmental and social causes, preferring companies that focus on a triple-bottom-line approach (which has proven to be vital for long-term success).

Millennial and Gen-Z employees place importance on social missions that create a positive impact on their communities. In fact, 64% of millennials say that it’s a priority for them to make the world a better place. Your company’s impact and ethics play a crucial role in how graduates choose their next job. Showcase the efforts your organization makes to create positive change. New graduates are attracted to companies that actively make a difference in today’s economy, society, and environment.


6. Stability and Reputation

While younger workforce has been known to switch jobs frequently, the recent impacts of the global pandemic have meant a lot of job losses and a larger dependence on a stable job.

Bentley University study found 95% of millennials also say a company’s reputation matters to them. Having a strong culture and vision can be a testament of financial stability and long-term growth potential, and can play a large role in a prospective candidate’s job search.


7. Flexibility and Adaptability

It’s crucial to not undermine flexibility as a deciding factor for best fit. Millennials like working with freedom of time and location. Consider the impacts of moving to remote-operations, or providing flexible work hours. Will remote work change the way your teams run in the long-term? Does the work need to be completed during traditional office hours?

Adjust your company’s methods to fit the next generation’s needs. Providing clear instruction, concrete targets and reliable software will help your company adapt and be more flexible.


8. Work-Life Balance

This is a big one! To tackle the high turnover caused by burnout, there has been a shift in recent years to design work schedules in a healthy balance with personal life.

While compensation and growth are still important metrics to consider, employees also look for job fulfillment. According to a Universum study, 61% of graduates place the highest value on work-life balance. Support this balance by introducing flexible working hours, valuing employee productivity and showing employee appreciation.


9. Applying and Onboarding

Employers often overlook the importance of an excellent application experience. 60% of candidates say they’ve had a poor experience applying for a job, usually because the application was long and complicated. Tackle this by walking a mile in your candidates’ shoes. Take your own company’s application and note how accessible or lengthly it is. Spruce up your company’s ‘About Us’ page, as well as your social media presence to find the latest news and job opportunities (using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and of course, LinkedIn).

In addition to acing your application process, firms should provide equally thoughtful onboarding. Graduates look for past testimonials of employees’ first few months at a company. They want to know more about your company culture and want to feel included. Read more about our recommendations in The 5 Stages of Impactful Employee Onboarding blog.


A New Way to do Business

By investing in hiring the best young people, your company will create significant growth opportunities. Recent graduates desire most of the things you might already do for your employees – dig further and collaborate with your existing people on how to improve those processes! As for anything new you might implement, remember that this will shape your company’s image, business operations, as well as the future leaders it will create.

Want help enticing new graduates to engage with your company? Reach out to our team to discuss how you could leverage the Guusto employee recognition platform to send gifts to star candidates.

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What's Next?

Your company’s reputation as an employer strongly impacts your success in attracting top talent. Next, we explore How to Build A Better Employer Brand. Join us to learn the following:

  • The Power of Storytelling
  • Benefits of an Excellent Employer Brand
  • Trust and Transparency Online

Hope you’ll join us for the discussion. Have something you want to learn more about? Let me know in the comments below or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Muucho Guusto,


Culture is the Ultimate Advantage

Set yourself apart using the power of company culture. Stand out to new applicants and motivate your team to do their best work.

Skai Dalziel

Written by Skai Dalziel

Skai is the Co-Founder of Guusto. He leads the Customer Success Team, and loves helping HR leaders build workplace culture by sharing his experiences from working with thousands of companies.

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