Students, New Grads Prefer Job Security over Passion

By Roy Maurer May 26, 2015

Seventy percent of college students and recent graduates said they would prefer a stable job without a high level of emotional investment or passion over a position with lots of passion but no job security, according to a recent survey.

Workforce consulting firm Adecco conducted the 2015 College Student Survey of 1,001 Millennial and Generation Z students and graduates ages 18-24 as part of its Way to Work program, which helps prepare young adults for internships and job opportunities. There were 444 respondents from Generation Z (born after 1995) and 557 from the Millennial generation (born between 1980-95).

The survey found that even though the majority (79 percent) of students are optimistic they will find a job in five months or less, and 42 percent believe they will find a job in less than three months, finding a job is still the top concern for both generational cohorts and nearly one-third (32 percent) of all respondents combined. The next most pressing concerns for the groups were the cost of education (16 percent) and their personal financial health (13 percent).

More members of Generation Z (21 percent) ranked the cost of education as their greatest concern compared to just 13 percent of Millennials.

The survey found that most students’ greatest aspiration in the next 10 years is to be financially stable (31 percent), followed by working in their dream job (28 percent). Broken down by generation, a greater share of Millennials (34 percent) aspire to financial stability than Generation Z (29 percent). Likewise, more members of the younger cohort (32 percent) aspire to landing their dream job compared with 24 percent of Millennials.

Other findings include:

  • Career growth (36 percent) ranked as the most important aspect for a first professional job, followed by fulfilling work (19 percent) and stability (19 percent).
  • A job’s “opportunity for growth” is most important to 41 percent of recent graduates, compared to 30 percent of college students.
  • Overall, respondents ranked the importance of soft skills higher than hard skills in the interview process (57 percent compared to 43 percent). Interestingly, male respondents ranked the skill sets equally (50 percent each) while females ranked soft skills (63 percent) as more important in the interview process than hard skills (37 percent).
  • About one-third (36 percent) of current college seniors feel their school has failed at teaching them applicable business skills. More Generation Z respondents (38 percent) said they believe their school is doing a good job at preparing them for a career compared to 28 percent of Millennials.
  • Overall, online job boards (31 percent) and university career centers (29 percent) are the tools students and recent college grads use the most when searching for a job. Professional associations (5 percent), social media (5 percent) and staffing agencies (3 percent) were cited less frequently. Millennials were more likely to use online job boards (34 percent) as compared to Generation Z (27 percent). The younger cohort cited using their personal connections and those of their parents (28 percent) in finding their first post-college job more than their slightly older counterparts (20 percent).

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy


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