Written By Digital Content Editor Thomas Ahearn

Recent “Generation Z” (or “Gen Z”) college graduates who are entering a job market of immense opportunity as candidates have new, differing, and sometimes impractical expectations for the workplace compared to their predecessors, according to the “Class of COVID-19” report issued by leading talent cloud company iCIMS.

In May 2022, iCIMS published its seventh annual “Class of” report to understand the career expectations and aspirations of the latest entrants to the workforce: “Gen Z.” The research includes employer and job seeker trends from the iCIMS platform as well as surveys of HR/recruiting professionals and recent college graduates.

“The class of COVID-19. Gen Z. Early career talent. Entry-level talent. Whatever you want to call them, they are entering the workforce in droves. And unlike those that came before them, the college graduates from 2020, 2021 and soon-to-be graduates from 2022 are entering a new era of work – hybrid in nearly every aspect.” 

The iCIMS “Class of COVID-19” report seeks to provide a better understanding of the next generation of the workforce, revealing areas of synergy as well as fundamental disconnects between talent and employers. The findings reveal misalignment between entry-level job candidates and employers. Key findings include:

  • More than half (54%) of HR professionals say they are hiring more entry-level talent than last year.
  • Three in five HR professionals say entry-level job seekers have impractical expectations.
  • Recent grads expect an average salary of more than $70,000, while employers expect to pay entry-level candidates just under $53,000.
  • Only 3% of employers ranked cover letters among the top three elements critical to landing a job. Soft skills, hard skills , and previous work or internship experience captured an employer’s eye for a job.
  • More than one-third (37%) of recent grads believe what they wear to work shouldn’t matter. However, hiring pros say that appearing unprofessional is the top reason that entry-level candidates are not hired.
  • The majority (70%) of recent grads look at employers’ sites when prepping for interviews and more than half (54%) admit to researching managers on social media.
  • The overwhelming majority (91%) of recent grads say they care how long they stay with an employer and nearly 70% see themselves staying with an employer long-term.
  • Nearly half (49%) of recent grads say a full-time job is “just a job” and they prioritize their personal passions. 
  • Nearly 70% of recent grads would like their job to accommodate remote work, although 90% would go into the office. 
  • Two in three recent grads expect their employer to support their mental health and participate in open conversations about it.
  • Approximately a third of recent grads would be comfortable working in a virtual reality (VR) environment, such as the metaverse. 

“Entry-level candidates have had anything but a traditional college and job search experience. As the workforce abruptly went virtual, so did college students – recent grads received up to half of their schooling remotely and likely had canceled or postponed internships,” iCIMS Chief People Officer Laura Coccaro said in a news release

“While organizations may not be ready to completely transform the way they work, we have a lot to learn from recent grads. Hiring teams should look for ways to modernize processes, be empathetic, and have realistic expectations if they want to successfully hire this generation of talent,” Coccaro added. 

The survey was conducted among 500 U.S. human resource/recruiting professionals and 1,000 U.S. adults who graduated from a bachelor’s program in 2020, 2021 or who will graduate in 2022. To explore the full findings and entry-level hiring trends, download the iCIMS “Class of COVID-19” report.

Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is a service offering of ClearStar, a leading HR technology company specializing in background, drug, and health screening for employment. ClearStar is integrated with the iCIMS Talent Cloud to deliver mobile background screening solutions. To learn more, visit www.clearstar.net/icims/.

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