In 2022, recent graduates have their pick of offers to choose from.
According to an April survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), employers planned to hire 31.6% more graduates from the ‘22 class than in 2021. In the same study, 16% of respondents claimed they planned to increase their hiring numbers by 100% or more.
The hiring surge comes on the tail end of the Great Resignation, which transitioned the United States into a candidate-hot labor market. In June, unemployment rates remained steady at 3.6% for the fourth month straight, while employers continue to struggle to find top talent.
TL;DR, college graduates are entering their respective fields knowing employers are increasingly eager to extend an offer. Many qualified candidates are faced with multiple employment opportunities, allowing them to be extremely selective about their career paths. If employers want to win the War for Talent and dissuade candidates from reneging on their offer, they need to create a candidate-first experience.
Which begs the question: What do you do when you’re recruiting a candidate faced with multiple offers? Below, we help you get inside the minds of today’s early-career top talent to help you win them over.
Inside the Candidates Mind: 5 Ways to Win the War for Talent
Creating a candidate-first experience isn’t about sweetening an offer (although it certainly doesn’t hurt). Instead, the candidate journey should start far before you even invite an applicant to interview with your company.
From the moment a candidate is first exposed to your brand (which could predate their junior year of college), you should paint a clear picture of what it’s like to work for your firm. Throughout each stage of the candidate journey, you’ll want to offer clear communication, swift response times, and high-quality content to keep candidates engaged. All while, knowing what Gen Z candidates want from their future employer, including:
1. Prove You’re the Company Most Invested in Their Development
Research shows that today’s early career candidates spend significantly less time in first roles, at an average of two years, three months. Therefore, many employers worry over the threat of job hopping, investing in a candidate’s growth and development only to have them leave mere years (or months) later.
But here’s a surprising bit of research every hiring manager needs to know: Gen Z candidates don’t want to job hop. They would far prefer to stay loyal to their employer, choosing an opportunity that poses a long-term career path
According to the Class of Covid-19 research report put out by iCIMS, an overwhelming 91% of recent grads state they care about how long they stay with an employer. In addition, roughly two-thirds see themselves staying with an employer for the long haul. (And for what it’s worth, hiring managers are taking note, with 50% stating Gen Z candidates are more loyal than previous generations.)
Win candidates over by proving to them your company is most invested in their future. Explain how you’ll advance in their career from day one, and send them suggested reading lists, external courses, and recommended certifications throughout the hiring process.
2. Show that Job Flexibility and a Work-Life Balance are Non-Negotiables
Today’s Gen Z candidates are highly protective of their autonomy, and won’t consider employers who encroach upon their work-life balance. They value mental health and wellness and are drawn to companies that value employees’ well-being.
A recent survey shows that the vast majority (70%) of Gen Z candidates said they would choose an employer that offered a hybrid work environment over one that didn’t. In the same study, nearly half explicitly stated that if a company mandated in-office work, they would seek employment elsewhere.
So, what’s the big deal about remote work? Simple — working from home promotes a better work-life balance. In a study by Microsoft, the top reasons people quit their jobs during the Great Resignation were 1) their personal wellbeing or mental health (24%) and 2) a better work-life balance (also 24%).
To prove your company is a champion of mental health, prove it during the hiring process. Offer both virtual and in-person interviews, with times slotted outside regular business hours (thereby offering space for classes and internships). Organize cohort meetups with a wellness theme, offering meditation, a yoga flow, or mindfulness as team activities.
3. Offer Candid, In-Person Feedback on a Regular Basis
While this may seem in direct contradiction to the above section, if you want to win the War for Talent, you’ll want to provide in-person feedback.
Here’s why: While Gen Z candidates are drawn to hybrid work environments, years of COVID-19 isolation have led them to crave in-person communication. As a generation that values critical feedback and direct dialogue, they’re looking for managers to implement face-to-face check-ins.
In fact, 75% of Gen Zers state they receive manager feedback in person. In addition, they want this feedback to take place at regular intervals, with 60% requesting multiple manager check-ins throughout the week.
When recruiting today’s early-career candidates, communication is key. Keep each member of your talent community updated with where they are in the hiring process. In addition, blend virtual check-ins with in-person meetups, arranging face-to-face time between top candidates and their future managers. Finally, organize and execute a mentorship program at work, ensuring each candidate has the guidance they need to excel in their new role.
4. Raise Your Salaries to Match Candidate Expectations
Alright, let’s talk dollars.
Yes, today’s early career talent values job flexibility, face-to-face communication, and upward mobility. But all of the above won’t be enough to offset a low salary.
Gen Z is a financially-conscious generation — one graduating with more college debt than any previous generation, and who faced a myriad of recessions in their short lifespans. They want a salary that will support their lifestyle and are willing to leverage their positions in a candidate-hot labor market to negotiate a higher figure.
Unfortunately, according to iCIMS, there’s a 20% gap between what college seniors expect to earn, and what employers are willing to pay. Recent grads expect an average salary of $70,005 for entry-level work, while employers are paying $52,575 on average. If your offer currently hovers near the latter, you will need to raise entry-level rates to capture top talent.
Leverage the Scholars Platform to Win the War for Talent
Today’s early-career top talent are facing multiple job offers post-graduation. If you extend an offer to a promising candidate, you need to accept they’re weighing it against other roles in your industry.
Therefore, in order to persuade candidates to accept the role, you’ll need to prove you’re invested in their future, value their mental health, implement in-person feedback, and offer competitive wages. To communicate all of the above — without any drops in communication — use the Scholars platform.
Scholars is an automated platform built by Gen Z for Gen Z candidates, helping to build personalized candidate journeys. Scholars brings a level of humanity back to the hiring process, helping employers attract and retain early-career talent.
To see how Scholars can help you win the War for Talent, schedule a demo.