New iCIMS Research Finds University Graduates Crave Stability Amid Uncertain Global Economy

Report reveals how global economic instability has impacted UK graduates’ expectations for the workforce, driving them to rewrite the rules for their careers

 iCIMS, the talent cloud company, today published the UK Class of 2023 Report to uncover expectations of this year’s graduates as they approach today’s job market. Informed by a survey of 1,000 undergraduate university students in the UK, the report reveals that just as in the early aughts — when these soon-to-be grads were born — an uncertain economy is making graduates wary.

According to the new research, nearly all final-year university students (97%) are considering alternative job-seeking options like applying to more job types, taking a job unrelated to their degree or applying to a post-grad to cushion their entrance. The research found job seekers in the U.S. and France are taking a similar approach to increase their chances of landing a job (97% and 94.3%, respectively). Yet, these worries may not be necessary, as iCIMS data reveals encouraging opportunity for this incoming class, with employers hiring at a steady rate.

”This cohort of graduates entering the workforce has seen tremendous disruption as the labour market flexed and contorted throughout the pandemic, the shift to remote working and now the mainstreaming of generative artificial intelligence,” said Hung Lee, host of the Recruiting Brainfood podcast. ”It is no surprise that they are taking the rational approach of applying for more jobs, even as their expectations from employers continue to rise. We can only wish them the best of luck, do what we can to support and most importantly, do what we can to learn from them.”

While this class is anxious and eager to land a job, they’re also rewriting the rules of what they want in their careers. New rules for engagement include:

  • Show me the money. As the UK faces a significant cost of living crisis, inflation and rising prices, the class of 2023 is looking for financial security. Nearly half (46%) of final year university students would not apply for a job if the salary range wasn’t included in the job posting. Similarly, U.S. (43%) and French (44%) entry-level job seekers have the same demand.
  • Seeing is believing. More than a third (35%) of final-year university students say that company culture and a diverse workforce are important factors when considering if they should apply for a role. Students in France agree (37%). When evaluating their commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, employers must consider all aspects of the process. This includes representation during the hiring process, how team members answer questions about diversity, equity and inclusion during interviews, diversity amongst the leadership team, representation across social media pages and the career site, and more.
  • Salary to survive. Graduates expect a fair salary to keep up with the ongoing cost-of-living crisis in the UK. The report showed 26% of final-year university students expect to make between £25k and £30k per year at their first full-time job and 14% expect to make up to £35k. Only 6% expect to make up to £40k per year.
  • Money is not the be-all and end-all. Other than salary, graduates say that the most important factors they consider when applying for a role is the type of work, opportunities for growth and advancement, flexible working hours and company stability and job security. Mental health support is also of interest with 40% expecting it as a benefit from their employer, an increase from 2022 (31%) and nearly the same as found in the U.S. (41%).
  • The AI takeover. The buzz of AI is seeping into the job application process – for better or worse. Over one third of final year-university students (38%) have used an AI bot to write their CV or cover letter, or are planning to. Comparatively, in the U.S., almost half (47%) are interested in using these tools, while a quarter have already used an AI bot during the application process.

”With new ideas, energy and vision, Gen Z talent is driving a modern workplace that other generations might find hard to comprehend,”said Eric Gellé, senior vice president of EMEA, iCIMS. ”The reality is that the future is, and will be, led by Gen Z so if employers don’t look to consider their skills now with the foresight of a future that changes constantly, they may have no future at all. To stay ahead of the competition, businesses must adapt to a new generation of talent entering the workforce. ”

Download the iCIMS UK Class of 2023 Report for more insights and advice on attracting and retaining the newest entrants to the UK workforce, and learn how to use this data to create a hiring process that resonates with Gen Z by registering for this virtual discussion on 29 June. Explore more hiring trends and expectations of Gen Z job seekers in the U.S. and France.

Register for RecFest in Knebworth Park on 6 July to get a demo of iCIMS’ innovative solutions and see how iCIMS is helping organisations including Lloyds Bank and Sysco transform how they build winning workforces.

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