December 2, 2020
Hiring 12 July 2018
5 Things College Graduates Look for in Employers
Charles Ebert

After getting a college education, students are initiated into the actual world of seeking employment. They are looking for independence, freedom, and individual growth which makes finding a perfect fit for their job one of their major priorities. Various surveys have been conducted to reveal the factors that affect decision making in taking a position in an organization.

Graduate recruitment programs are widespread in most parts of the world, where employers attend career fairs on campuses to promote vacancies and career opportunities to students. Employers involved in student recruitment often form themselves into bodies or associations with the aim of setting recruitment codes of practice. However, most expectations of graduates from the job market are quite different from what they expect. 

Let's consider some of the most important things that graduates look for in employers:

1. Compensation and Benefits

College graduates are not only looking for jobs that are a stepping stone for them, but they are also looking for a job that can pay their bills. A survey done by LinkedIn shows that 61% of recent college graduates cited compensation as the key factor in taking a job. With the high cost of living, students want a job with guaranteed earnings. They also want benefits that come with the job such as medical insurance and access to a work car. However, these benefits are dictated by the employer. Benefits are not paid in cash but come as a package.

The challenge is that there is a difference between what employers are offering and what graduates are looking for. For this, graduates tend to concentrate on getting employed and put their skills to work with the compensation available. Most freshly graduated students, however, are not looking for high salaries, they are looking to start their careers. Then as they grow, they can negotiate for their salaries and benefits.

2. Career Development

Young graduates are looking to join companies that will pave paths for their future careers, while they continue learning new skills to grow in a company. For that to happen, they need to get recruited by companies that are willing to involve them in the day to day running of their organizations, companies that promote diverse thinking and sharing of knowledge among employees. Freshly graduated students might come up with new and better ideas for running such organizations.

Graduates also hope that with time, while working in an organization, their careers will have developed. They want to make important connections with influential people in their field of work. Before employers give graduates jobs, there is a specific skill set that employers look for in employees such as leadership skills, critical thinking, and the ability to work in a team. There are expectations from employers that require them to learn new things to develop individually as well as professionally. Graduates, moreover, apply their school learned skills to show they are up to the task as they get integrated into the company.

3. Corporate Culture

Since graduates will spend most of their time working with different people, performing different functions and processes within the organization, they are on the lookout for workplaces that they can successfully integrate into and culturally relate with. There is also a trend – graduates are not only joining companies for their big names but also for their work environment and other factors such as how communication occurs in an organization, how strict the rules are, and how stressful the atmosphere of the company is or might be. 

Graduates are looking to work in an environment where all employees consistently learn, work together and are aware of the company’s values. Graduates are also looking for leaders in the company who are approachable and easy to talk to. This will enable them to contribute positively to the company.

4. Work and Life Cohesion

Freshly graduated students are looking for a healthy work-life balance which enables them to spend more time with loved ones. Supporting employee contentment is directly emulated in the prosperity of the organization and makes the business run excellently. Lori Wade the chief of Edubirdie says that work and life are better when there’s a balance.

Instead of having two separate lives, one at work and another at home, this generation believes that their job and personal life are equally important. To have a fulfilling life, college graduates need job positions that are seamlessly integrated into their personal schedules. While compensation and growth in the corporate are still important, fresh graduates are looking for job fulfillment. But in the job market, you will find that most employers don’t have such policies. This can be achieved by:

  • Introducing flexible working hours.

  • Allowing employees to work from home when there is no need to come to the office.

  • Focusing on employee productivity rather than on working hours.

5. Impact

Young graduates are looking for positions where they can make an impact, both in the organization and in the world. As a result, they are more attracted to companies that make them feel that they are making a positive impact. Employers that offer this to graduates tend to get the best of the crop. 

This generation of college graduates is looking for fulfillment in life, that’s why corporate social issues such as conservation of the environment, eradication of poverty, and improvement of the life of others have taken center stage. Not only for the graduates but also for grantors worldwide, companies working towards helping in these areas are more likely to get funding. So, for employers, this will not only attract graduates to your organization but it’s also good for the overall outlook of your business.

Conversely, aim at giving new recruits positions that matter – those that enable them to see how their work contributes to the success of the company. Employers should also set time to spend it with fresh employees from college and get to know them; this will make students feel more important. A positive practical environment boosts productivity at work, improves drive and reduces the turnover rate.


Access to university education has played a big role in ensuring that university students are well equipped for the job market. This has given them exposure so, when it comes to employment, they are ready and knowledgeable on what to expect.

 Freshly graduated students are considered different from other working generations. These millennials are looking for job fulfillment as much as compensation; they are concerned about career growth. 

The environment in which they want to work is equally important. Millennials want to have an impact on the companies they work for leaving them with some sense of fulfillment. As an employer looking to recruit college graduates, you need to be aware of what they are looking for to get productive hires.

Charles Ebert is a career mentor, motivational speaker & human resources consultant with over 10 years of experience in HR sector. Apart from career mentoring, he loves photography and football. Find him on LinkedinTwitterFacebook & Google+.