Class of 2021

Remote work? Not so important. A fast hiring process? Essential.

The class of 2021 is about to enter the workforce. In their latest report, recruiting software provider iCIMS reveals what this year’s college graduating class is looking for in a job and how that jibes with what HR professionals are offering. Here are a few highlights.

The hiring process — faster is better

College seniors are ready to hit the ground running! That’s good news for the 60% of HR professionals who said they will be looking for new entry-level hires.

However, there is a significant discrepancy between what the job seekers expect and the reality of the hiring process. 46% of college seniors said that they expect the job application process to take no longer than 3 weeks. This is less than half the time it actually takes — 45 days is the average for entry-level positions, and that number increases to 52 days for tech jobs that require specific skill sets. In light of this difference, companies that want to impress candidates may want to trim some time off of their hiring process.

Remote work — not a big draw

While the option for remote work is a must-have for many people already working, those just entering the job market are looking for an in-person experience. Almost two-thirds (64%) of college seniors said they want to work mostly in-office, while 34% said they want to work occasionally in-office. Only 2% want a fully remote position.

In line with that, 88% of college seniors said they want to meet in-person with coworkers frequently so they can build relationships and network. Jewell Parkinson, the chief people officer at iCIMS, wrote in the report: “The human element of working together is important for all employees but so critical for those just starting their careers. As HR leaders, we are responsible for helping facilitate that fundamental need for connection, networking and professional development.”

Salary — lower than expected

iCIMS has been surveying college seniors’ salary expectations since 2016. In the first two years, the job seekers tended to overvalue their worth to employers. But that trend reversed in 2018. Since then, college seniors have expected to be paid less than HR professionals expect to pay. This year, the gap is particularly wide. College seniors expect an entry-level salary of $51,931 on average, while HR professionals expect to pay $66,620 — a difference of almost $15,000.

Overall, the iCIMS report shows that Gen Z is unique and that hiring post-pandemic will be different from what we’ve seen before. Companies that want to attract and retain tomorrow’s top talent will need to adjust their processes and offerings to meet the needs of those entering the job market now.

For more insights into the class of 2021 and how HR pros can meet them where they are, download the full report.