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What Do 2023 Grads Expect From Their First Career Job?

Posted by: Karen Booher on May 15th, 2023

Congratulations to the graduating class of 2023!

Many in this year’s graduating senior class were freshmen in college when the pandemic struck in early 2020. In many respects, the workplace today is vastly different from when they first started college. Savvy employers understand that as workplace trends change, it’s important to stay flexible and open to different ways of doing things to attract today’s incoming generation to the workforce.

In a recent article, the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) pulled together a list of expectations of our 2023 graduates from 3 different reports:

Some of this year’s findings include:

Speed in the Hiring Process

64% told iCIMS that they expect the process to take 3 weeks or less and involve no more than 3 interviews. Communication is key in this regard. If possible, send text messages apprising candidates of the hiring timeline so they aren’t wondering, and to keep them engaged with your company.

Pay Transparency (and a High Salary)

40% of college seniors would not apply to a job if the posting did not include a salary range, iCIMS found. Colorado’s Equal Pay for Equal Work Act makes this disclosure a requirement of employers.

In terms of salaries, 2023 graduates expect an average starting salary of $66,467. That’s more than $8,000 over what employers expect to pay entry-level candidates, but down from the 2022 graduates’ $70,000 salary expectations.

Handshake’s survey found that a high starting salary (along with job stability) tied as students’ top priority, with both at 74%, followed by overall benefits at 64%. To help manage these expectations and educate graduates, employers need to outline the entire compensation package, not just starting salary. This includes educating candidates about bonus potential, benefits, and other rewards and perks.

Quick Career Movement

54% of college seniors expect to be promoted within their first year, LaSalle found. To meet that expectation, LaSalle suggests the following:

Financial Benefits

50% want bonuses or overtime pay for working beyond their contracted hours; 42% want 401(k) matches; 34% want financial advisory programs (i.e., investing, home buying); and 28% want student loan repayment programs, iCIMS found.

Mental Health Therapy Coverage

This is the #1 employer benefit for 40% of graduating seniors, followed by medical coverage and flexible spending accounts, according to LaSalle’s report. “They want to make sure they were able to go to therapy and it wasn’t a taboo subject at the company,” said Sirmara Campbell, CHRO at LaSalle Network.

Stability (yet they still job-hop)

35% of iCIMS’ respondents see themselves on a long-term career path with an employer and 64% see the value of longevity with an organization. Given their pandemic experience throughout college, graduating seniors “understand what instability looks like, and they want the complete opposite when looking for their first job,” says Laura Coccaro, iCIMS Chief People Officer.

Even so, what more experienced workers consider to be “job hopping” is now the norm for workers new to the workforce. LaSalle found that:

Hybrid Workplace Schedules

70% found of new graduates would prefer working from home 2-3 days per week, LaSalle found. “This class realizes they need to be in the office, having that connection with people,” Campbell said. “They love the flexibility, but there are some people who have not accepted remote jobs because they want to build [workplace] relationships.”

Handshake’s survey also found a preference for hybrid schedules. 55% of respondents said it’s important they are allowed to work remotely, but only 15% want a fully remote schedule while 23% want a full in-person schedule.

In Closing:  A Cautionary Warning – They Stay Open to Other Job Offers

LaSalle’s survey also found that 36% of graduating seniors who accepted job offers continued to apply elsewhere. This speaks to the importance of companies staying connected to graduates from job offer acceptance to start date, which often can exceed 1-2 months with graduation and relocation after college. Campbell recommends having some sort of touchpoint every 2-3 weeks after job acceptance “to make them feel they’re part of the company before they even start.” Suggestions for this include:


SHRM HR Daily Newsletter, 5/4/2023. “New Grads Use ChatGPT in Job Search”, by Kathy Gurchek, May 4, 2023.

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