Job security tops the list of attributes new college graduates say are important in a job. The ability to develop job-specific and soft skills, friendly coworkers, and a good benefits package round out the top five, with the top four all coming within two percentage points of each other according to results of NACE’s 2022 Student Survey. (See Figure 1.)
That wish list is nearly identical to what Class of 2021 graduates deemed as important, with just some slight jockeying of the order. In fact, those attributes have been cited as the top five preferences by the last five graduating classes, indicating that these are core to new college graduates seeking to launch their careers.
When the data are filtered, however, some interesting differences arise:
Black students place a premium on whether the organization embraces diversity, with 90% citing this attribute as very or extremely important. In comparison, 76% of Class of 2022 graduates overall rated this as very or extremely important.
For liberal arts and STEM graduates, job security edges out other attributes in terms of importance, while business and public service majors both prioritize skills development.
More than two-thirds of male graduates cite a high starting salary as important, landing sixth on their list; while nearly as many female graduates do the same, a high starting salary falls much lower on their list—in 11th place. However, regardless of where it falls in the list, Class of 2022 graduates deemed a high starting salary to be the deciding factor between two otherwise equal job offers.
The 2022 Student Survey was conducted February 22, 2022, to May 15, 2022. In all, 15,860 students responded from 262 four-year colleges and universities. Of those, 2,140 were graduating seniors; results presented here reflect their responses. Full results are available through the 2022 Student Survey Report and dashboard.