Poll: New Grads Unsure Jobs Will Meet Expectations

June 9, 2005 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - A new survey of recent college graduates found that grads are not completely certain that jobs they find will be what they wanted, but do expect to find employment.

A multinational survey taken for consultant Accenture found that six in 10 respondents (59%) said they anticipate beginning a full-time job within six months while only 20% think that process will take longer than a year, according to a news release.

This year, graduates in the United States and the United Kingdom are the most confident about finding a job soon. Some 61% and 69% of respondents in those countries, respectively, said they believe they will find a job within six months, compared with 54% of respondents in both Germany and Spain and only 41% of respondents in France.

Despite this overall optimism, little more than one-third (37%) of all respondents are extremely or very confident that those jobs will be what they wanted. Graduates in the United States and Germany are most optimistic, with 53% and 47% of respondents in those countries, respectively, saying they are “extremely confident” or “very confident” about finding the right jobs. This compares with 36%, 27% and 21% of respondents in the United Kingdom, France and Spain, respectively.

“While graduates are optimistic about getting jobs – and more downbeat about getting the right jobs – employers have a different concern. They are competing to get the best talent possible,” said Peter Cheese, managing partner of Accenture’s Human Performance practice, in the news release. “Executives who clearly define roles and match new graduates’ skills, aspirations and experience to those roles will succeed in attracting the right talent, and they will have more satisfied employees contributing at a higher level.”

People Skills

As was the case last year, graduates are unsure that their existing skills will help them find jobs. Just 23% – the same percentage as last year – reported that the most important skills they can offer prospective employers are their people/communication abilities. Their confidence in other skills has dropped since last year, including their ability to produce high-quality work in a timely manner (17% this year, versus 20% last year), their education-based knowledge (18%, versus 20% last year) and their computer/technology skills (11%, versus 16% last year).

While respondents in last year’s survey said they looked for training above other factors at their prospective jobs, this year’s respondents said they hope to find fair compensation. Three-quarters (76%) of graduates in this year’s survey cited fair compensation as the most important factor, compared with 64% last year. The change was particularly noticeable in Spain, where 95% of respondents this year cited fair compensation as the most important factor – nearly double the 48% who selected it last year.

“Approachable and available management” was another factor that increased in importance, with 65% of respondents in this year’s survey citing it as an important offering, versus 55% in 2004. Overall, training dropped in importance (from 71% to 65% this year), as did ethical management (from 48% to 44%). In France, only 22% of respondents reported that they seek a company with ethical management, a significant drop from 60% last year.

Among the survey’s other findings:

  • The Internet is the job search method of choice. Almost three-quarters (72%) said they plan to search for work online, compared with two-thirds (67%) who said they will mail their resumes and approximately half (54%) who believe they will find jobs by “networking.”
  • Graduates are serious about their careers. Until they begin full-time jobs, six in 10 will work part-time, 58% will continue studying, and 57% will read. Only 39% of this year’s graduates expect to travel before beginning full-time jobs, compared with 54% last year.

The survey, conducted online in April and May 2005 by Lightspeed Research, covered 1,600 interviews with people 20 to 25 years of age in the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany and with people 20 to 26 years of age in Spain who have graduated college or university in the last six months or who expect to graduate in the next six months.