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  • Students: Salary Top Deciding Factor Between Two Jobs

    September 26, 2018 | By NACE Staff

    Student Attitudes
    A young professional chooses a position with a better starting salary.

    TAGS: compensation, salaries, student attitudes, surveys, spotlight

    Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals

    Students mulling two job opportunities place a strong emphasis on starting salary as their deciding factor, according to results of NACE’s 2018 Student Survey. This is in stark contrast to their responses to a question about job preferences: A high starting salary was deemed among the least important aspects of the job.

    Overall, a plurality of respondents (21.6 percent) cited a high starting salary as the factor they would use to choose between two otherwise equal jobs. (See Figure 1.) Moreover, this was the case across class, race, gender, and international student status, with all groups ranking high starting salary as the top tie breaker.

    While respondents cited the opportunity to develop job-specific and applied skills as important job attributes, in general, these fell to the middle of the pack of deciding factors. On the other hand, the job being located close to home fell nearly at the bottom of the list of job attribute preferences, but rose to the top third as a deciding factor.

    The 2018 Student Survey Report details the attitudes, behaviors, and outcomes for bachelor’s degree students at all class levels. (Note: Previous reports provided data only on graduating seniors.) The focus of this report is the 22,109 bachelor’s degree students from the 2017-18 academic school year (July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2018). Breakdowns by class level are as follows: 4,336 freshmen, 4,174 sophomores, 5,709 juniors, and 7,890 graduating seniors. Data collection took place from February 14, 2018, to April 30, 2018. The 2018 Student Survey Report will be released this fall.

    Figure 1: Percent of favored job attributes as deciding factors, overall

    Attribute Percent of Respondents That Favor as Deciding Factor
    High starting salary 21.6%
    Job security 9.9%
    Good insurance/benefits package 9.4%
    Provides ability to improve community/country 8.4%
    Friendly co-workers 7.5%
    Located close to home 5.9%
    Opportunity to develop job-specific skills 5.2%
    Opportunity for rapid advancement 5.0%
    Opportunity to develop applied skills 4.6%
    Opportunity for self-expression and creativity 3.8%
    Embraces diversity 3.2%
    Casual atmosphere 2.7%
    Recognition for good performance 2.3%
    Located in diverse and tolerant community 2.1%
    Well-recognized name/brand/image 1.9%
    Creates sustainable products/sustainable operations 1.8%
    Innovative approach to work featuring latest technology 1.6%
    Clearly defined assignments 1.5%
    Clear agenda of corporate social responsibility 1.5%
    Source: 2018 Student Survey Report, National Association of Colleges and Employers