Nearly 60 percent of HR professionals are specifically looking to fill entry-level job positions in the coming months, but hiring professionals and Gen Z job seekers differ in their perspectives of what those opportunities should look like.
According to new research in iCIMS’ sixth annual "Class of" report, the college graduating class of 2021 has largely rejected the idea of a virtual working experience. Nearly two-thirds of college seniors want to work in an office for their first job post-graduation, and four in five believe they best represent themselves in person during job interviews.
The Class of 2021 report also found that college seniors underestimate their worth in this job market. College seniors are leaving close to $15,000 in earnings on the table when HR professionals expect to pay 22 percent more for an entry-level salary than in March 2020.
"The class of 2021 is entering the workforce at a time when the traditional aspects of the workplace experience are being called into question," said Jewell Parkinson, chief people officer, iCIMS. "On one hand, the desire for flexibility is paramount for all, but on the other hand, this up-and-coming generation also wants and needs the experience of social connection and ingraining themselves within an inclusive learning culture where physical space matters. As businesses consider their next steps, they cannot ignore the impact of how and where they work will have on their ability to attract, engage, hire, and advance talent and be successful."
The research reveals that as businesses continue to adapt their post-pandemic strategy, there are varied areas of concern for HR professionals and college seniors. Additional key findings include:
- HR is placing a high premium on early career talent. HR professionals in the United States have increased the year-over-year average salary for entry-level employees, now reaching $66,600 (11 percent increase over 2019; 22 percent over 2020). While U.S. college seniors only anticipate earning an average of just under $52,000 annually, these individuals are in a much stronger negotiating position than they might realize.
- In the United Kingdom, college seniors expect to earn an average salary of just under £27,000 (~$38,000*) annually. In France, the average entry-level earnings expectation is approximately €31,500 (~$38,000*).
- Digital recruitment tools need to support human connections. According to U.S. HR professionals, 97 percent plan to use video tools like video interviewing and video job descriptions within the hiring process over the next 12 months. The majority of students (80 percent) believe that they best present themselves to potential employers during in-person interviews. HR professionals have an opportunity to bridge this gap by educating the incoming Gen Z workforce on how video benefits the hiring process.
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) are critical considerations for new hires. Among college surveyed seniors, 72 percent either strongly expect or require employers to be committed to DEI in hiring practices, with 58 percent looking to learn about it explicitly within interviews. HR professionals largely agree and have increasingly looked to spotlight these efforts accordingly: 59 percent say they use the interview to promote diversity. That said, HR professionals are mindful of ensuring their efforts are being communicated, as 46 percent are either very or extremely concerned that their existing DEI initiatives are not visible enough to applicants.
- Talent pipelines are underserved. While HR professionals are looking to fill a range of entry-level positions, few consistently nurture a long-term pipeline of candidates—only 28 percent do so proactively. When it takes, on average, six and a half weeks to fill a position, and the turnover rate for entry-level roles has reached 57 percent, this lack of proactivity may cause critical skills gaps and talent shortages.
"A commitment to future leadership is foundational to organizational success, especially now. This begins with a focus on the candidate experience, continuously engaging with talent to ensure they feel connected with throughout the hiring journey with your business," said Marie Artim, vice president of global talent acquisition, Enterprise Holdings, the No. 1 entry-level employer in 2021, according to CollegeGrad.com. "This year's college graduates face a unique job market surrounded by challenging circumstances. At Enterprise, this puts an even stronger onus on our hiring teams to build meaningful relationships and bring in the best future leaders to drive our business forward."
The sixth annual "Class of" report combines perspectives from HR professionals and this year's college graduates from the U.S., U.K., and France with trends from iCIMS' proprietary database of 120 million applications, 64 million applicants, and 3.8 million hires by approximately 4,300 companies worldwide in 2020. Read the full Class of 2021 report and methodology here.