Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals, March 14, 2012
Many employers heavily involved with college recruiting are looking for at least a portion of their recruits to come from advanced-degree programs. These candidates are prized because their advanced educational training gives them a depth of knowledge to go beyond routine job tasks—a capacity that employers view as adding creativity and innovation to their work force.
But what does it take to attract these candidates? What do they expect from employers in terms of salary, employer/job preferences, and benefits? Results from NACE’s 2011 Student Survey indicate that employers interested in master’s level candidates need to:
- Be prepared to meet higher salary expectations—Master’s degree students expect to be paid a premium for their advanced level of education; these job seekers anticipate earning approximately 25 percent more than their less-degreed colleagues. The largest differential in salary expectations is found among students receiving a master’s in a business major. The median expected starting salary for this group is $54,098 compared to a median expected salary of $39,875 from seniors graduating in business administration.
- Provide opportunities for new hires to develop—First and foremost, master’s degree job seekers want the opportunity for personal growth and development. Instead of looking for the opportunity for quick advancement with their first employer, they want that employer/job to provide the chance to grow and become more attractive for future endeavors. Job security and good benefits are also very important to these job seekers. Interestingly, their preference rating for the opportunity to advance rapidly—which had consistently been in the top two preferences in previous surveys—was low. In fact, only master’s degree graduates in business majors ranked rapid advancement as a preferred attribute.
- Don’t view your candidates too broadly—While the desire for the opportunity to grow in the job is held universally among master’s students regardless of their academic discipline, there are differences among job preferences. For example, business and engineering majors are particularly interested in a high starting salary, while education and arts and sciences majors are focused on the community impact of the job.
- Offer the benefits they want—Master’s students are more focused on controlling their work schedules and balancing their commitment to the job with other aspects of their lives than bachelor's students. Class of 2011 master's students are more interested in achieving a work-life balance than any previous class and decidedly more so than their counterparts with bachelor's degrees. This is evident in that two of their most highly rated employee benefits are getting more than two weeks of vacation and being provided with flextime.
Note: For more on this topic, see“Attitudes and Experiences of Advanced Degree Students” in the February 2012 issue of the NACE Journal.