Tough times ahead for US graduates

Sep 08 2008 by Nic Paton Print This Article

Being able to pick and choose from multiple job offers is becoming a distant memory for American graduates, with most now expecting an ugly scrap for the best jobs when they leave college.

A study by HR consultancy Right Management has reported a sharp rise in the number of recent or soon-to-be graduates saying it will be either difficult or very difficult to find a job.

Whereas just under six out of 10 said they were worried in 2007, now it is 72 per cent, reported the poll of 236 students.

By comparison, slightly more than a quarter believed it would be "somewhat to very easy" to get the job they desired, down from nearly four out of 10 in 2007.

The survey provides more evidence that the jobs' market for graduates is rapidly toughening.

In June, a survey by credit card company Capital One found that half of graduates believed there would not be enough jobs to go round this year, with four out of 10 predicting there would be fewer vacancies than last year.

Nevertheless, the tougher jobs market was not changing the attitude, or loyalty, of these graduates to their potential future employers.

Nearly two-thirds of the college graduates polled said they expected to remain with their first employers for fewer than three years, unchanged on the 2007 poll.

Nearly three out of 10 expected to stay between three and five years and just a fifth said they would commit themselves to more than five years.

Also unchanged on the 2007 poll were the top three key motivators for college graduates when considering employment.

These were, first, opportunities to develop new skills, second, appreciation for work-life balance and, third, establishing and maintaining a good rapport with their managers.

In fact, work-life balance was more important than pay to this year's college graduates, the poll found, with nearly four out of 10 rating it as "very important" against just a fifth who gave compensation the same priority.

"Employers that want to attract and retain new and emerging talent need to understand the key differences in what motivates each generation," said George Herrmann, executive vice president, Americas, at Right Management.

"This is a smart, skilled, savvy pool of talent. Provide context, give them a voice, and look for opportunities for them to play a part in the decision-making process, rather than just assigning roles and tasks," he added.

"A culture that promotes constructive feedback, mentoring and regular acknowledgement of contributions will help employees feel valued and fosters loyalty, which is critical to retaining skilled talent," he concluded.