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Why Passion is Critical to Filling Entry-Level Jobs
Friday, Jun 15, 2018

It’s been said that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.

But what happens when you offer recent graduates a choice: love or money? According to the recent Class of 2018 Job Outlook Report, 60 percent of students said they care more about being passionate about their work than being paid well for it.

In a world of tight labor markets and lagging wage growth, this is big news for recruiters. It means that for the majority of recent grads, where they end up in their first job won’t necessarily come down to the highest bidder.

That levels the playing field somewhat for recruiters. Employers with the biggest budgets cannot safely assume they can buy – and hang onto – the best future talent right out of school. Competitive compensation and benefits can be big incentives, but what really attracts young candidates is far less tangible: mission-driven work and a compelling corporate brand.

Realizing this, it’s up to recruiters to capitalize on this fact by doubling down on a strong candidate experience. This includes highlighting all the best parts of their culture and the work that they do. If recruiters can communicate to candidates the passions that fuel their business, then candidates who fit the mold are more likely to apply.

Passion is a Two-Way Street

Recent graduates expect passion from their employers. But just how in-demand are students who exhibit passion themselves? According to recruiters: very.

In fact, 79 percent of recruiters say a student with profound passion and interest in an available job opening is much more likely to secure the position than someone with a more relevant degree, but who doesn’t share that same interest.

That’s a good thing for recruiters, and not just because passionate candidates translate into the best hires. It’s a good thing because the majors college seniors are graduating with in 2018 do not necessarily match the majors recruiters are most interested in hiring.

According to the study, 52 percent of recruiters are interested in hiring students who graduated with a degree in a STEM field. By contrast, only 24 percent of students are graduating with a degree in STEM. Similarly large discrepancies exist for business/finance degrees, arts/communications/media, and law/policy.

While it’s good news for graduating seniors that recruiters are willing to step outside the areas covered in their fields of study, this creates a somewhat more challenging position for recruiters. To attract the best and brightest right out of school, recruiters must get good at recognizing passion when they see it, regardless of what is printed on a candidate’s diploma.

New Grads Have High Salary Expectations

We have established that recent grads care more about what they do than how much they get paid to do it. But just how much does the Class of 2018 expect to make in their first job?

New grads expect an average starting salary of $54,010 right out of the gate. For context, that’s about the same as recent grads reported last year – $53,483 on average.

How does that stack up against the expectations of recruiters? Taking just the average, it’s actually pretty close. This year, recruiters estimate they will pay entry-level employees $56,532 on average, that’s a more than $10,000 just since last year, when their estimate was $45,361.

However, 43 percent of recruiters expect to pay entry-level employees $35,000 or less, with only 18 percent of recruiters expecting to pay between $50,000 and $74,999. With that type of skew, it’s clear that occupation matters.

That’s something for recruiters to chew on when considering recent graduates. Overall, graduates say they prefer passion to a fat paycheck. If a gap exists between preference and reality, it’s up to recruiters to set expectations early to avoid disappointment later.

Going Where the Grads Are

The magic happens when recent grads and hiring managers both feel passionate about a potential match. But what happens when communication – or lack thereof – gets in the way?

Almost all recruiters surveyed in the Class of 2018 Report have forgone hiring a candidate specifically because their communication wasn’t timely enough – 84 percent said this happens frequently. On the candidate side, 41 percent of college seniors said they already missed a potential job opportunity because they couldn’t connect with a recruiter or hiring manager quickly enough.

Recruiters might not balk at that number – conventional wisdom tells us if a student is passionate enough about the job, they will make sure that doesn’t happen, right? Sometimes, but that’s not always the case. Students can hardly be blamed for missing a phone call or an email that goes for whatever reason straight to their spam folder.

In today’s hiring environment, the recruiters who experience the most success landing top talent are the ones who adapt best to candidate preferences. When it comes to recent grads, there is no more reliable form of communication than text messaging.

While texting with candidates was unheard of just a few years ago, the popularity of this method of communication has growth with recruiters. Why? For one thing, it’s reliable. The vast majority of recent grads check their phones often and out of habit. For another, texting allows recruiters to reach students nearly anytime and anywhere. Many grads might be reluctant to reply to an email or pick up the phone depending on their surroundings – but texting has made communicating with candidates quick and easy.

However, compliance is one issue recruiters who text with candidates may run into. Reporting on data is another. However, solutions like TextRecruit, an iCIMS company,  offer a centralized platform that not only addresses these concerns, but also allows recruiters to save time by automating their communication while still preserving that personal touch so important to a strong candidate experience.

Final Thoughts for TA Professionals

Recent grads who are passionate about what they do or the job they’re applying for typically make the best new hires. They’re dedicated and invested in what drives them, and that will ultimate show in the quality of their work.

In addition to being flexible about which fields they pursue after graduation, most are willing to put what they do ahead of how much they’ll make doing it. However, they may not be exactly clear on what their market worth is just yet.

That puts the onus on recruiters to set expectations early and lead with a strong candidate experience and employer brand – one that highlights all the best aspects of their work, culture, and social commitments.