Hiring College Graduates for 2023 | What Employers Need to Know

Recruitment professionals are eagerly gearing up for graduation season, a time when companies can hire some of the top college graduates who will be heading into new careers. Employers must act fast if they want to reel in the freshest talent. With current labor shortages in a holding pattern so far this year, it’s beneficial for organizations to understand what 2023 college graduates want. That way, recruitment efforts can be fruitful. 

The competition for 2023 college graduates is expected to be hot. According to a recent survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), “employers plan to hire 14.7% more graduates in 2023 as compared to 2022.” Around half of the 246 employers surveyed believe that the class of 2023 is encountering “a very good to excellent job market.” 

With higher education enrollment rates up since the pandemic, particularly among women, minorities, and more seasoned workers – employers can expect around 1.9 million college graduates to be hitting the job search soon. This increases the odds in every employer’s favor.

So, what do this year’s college graduates want? 

The secret sauce for attracting 2023 graduates is understanding what they really want in a job. Sure, earning a fair wage puts them on the road to independence, but what drives this group of candidates to say “Yes” to a job offer may be surprisingly different from what you expect. It’s not about the average perks that businesses offer.

Show them the money. 

The graduates this year are being impacted by multiple factors, including economic concerns as they face above-average inflation, a high cost of living, AND mounting debt. As of January 2023, The Education Data initiative reports, “the average debt per borrower was over $37,000 for federal student loans and nearly $55,000 for private loans.” 

Many graduates also have credit card debt to contend with. An article on Moneyzine states, “64.8% of college students have credit card debt.” It’s well-known that credit card companies start targeting students as soon as they can because credit cards offer a temporary fix to cash flow issues that young people face when they leave home. 

Employers that offer above-average starting wages and are transparent about sharing this information will attract college graduates who are eager to earn enough to get their own place and pay off these debts. But it’s the employers that offer financial management education and tools to help support college grads that will get the most attention. 

What they care about matters. 

New college grads, made up mostly of Gen Z, are especially mindful of wanting work that positively impacts the world. Candidates in this pool are looking for companies with cultures that are socially responsible and support the causes they believe in. The rise of social and political consciousness and the increase in diversity have made college grads more aware of what a good company culture looks like. Employers who support the causes they care about and give employees the opportunity to express their value are likely to attract more this year. 

Oh, the promise of stability.

In a new report from Handshake, “85% of Gen Z job seekers say their top priority is finding stability.” The report surveyed over 1,800 college grads to discover what they want, with good benefits and a high starting salary ranking as their second and third most desired responses.

This is motivated by the uncertainty of the past few years, including the pandemic, remote working, and socio-political upheaval they experienced. Many college graduates do their research to look for signs that a company is stable and values employees before they decide to put in an application. 

graph on what college grads really want so you can hire college graduates

Best Practices to Hire 2023 College Graduates

After reading the above factors, you probably have some good ideas as to what you can do to ramp up your college recruitment practices.  You may also see some gaps in your current recruitment strategy. What are some recruitment best practices you can implement now to get a jump start on deciding how to hire some great college graduates?

Partner with colleges. 

College graduates are likely to be searching a number of places for new jobs. The first place many students turn to is their college recruitment office for job leads. If you haven’t already done so, take the time to introduce your company to the local colleges and the colleges that regularly produce top graduates in your area of business. This will require a lot of networking with advisors, but it is worth the effort because they know the students well and will be glad to refer college graduates to your organization. Offer to conduct workshops on various areas of your organizational focus or industry and invite college students to participate.

Improve recruitment processes.

To hire college graduates and students, make sure your recruiting and hiring process is as easy and streamlined as possible. From your advertising and networking to your actual application and onboarding, be sure to create a process that is pleasant and efficient. Studies have shown that job applicants do not want to deal with complicated application processes; therefore, you should seek out a recruitment solution that does not require candidates to spend hours filling out forms online.

Be transparent about everything.

You will probably notice that many college graduates are very analytical and want to know what they may be getting into with a career choice. It’s very important that you are transparent with candidates from the very start. Be honest about what you are looking for in candidates and what you can offer them. This includes reasonable salaries, benefits, financial tools, and other perks. Be genuine with candidates about what will be expected of them and how they can succeed. You also want to develop a strong employer brand that positively highlights what your company stands for and your values as an organization.

Be visible and responsive.

The candidates who are entering the job market are hoping to find the right fit for their skills, but also their lifestyle. So, get to know your candidates and find out what drives them and motivates them. You’ll want to be as visible as possible to college graduates by participating heavily in recruitment marketing like social media. Promote the things that matter the most to college grads, such as stability and financial wellness. Respect and recognize the efforts that college students have made to get where they are now.

By implementing some of these strategies and spreading the word about your open positions, you can boost your 2023 college student recruitment results.

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