Companies Don’t Want To Hire 2024 Entry Level Employees: Study Says

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As the new class of 2024 enters the turbulent job market, they are facing numerous uncertainties. After coping through a pandemic and a disruptive education experience, many graduates are weary of job market stability, concerned about their daily work life and the risk of burnout. Not to mention the dubious reputation their earlier peers paved for them and how their older, skeptical coworkers will receive them. Especially in light of a recent study reporting that 45% of hiring managers say Gen Z are the worst to manage.

The Class Of 2024 Shows Five Trends

After four tumultuous years, the class of 2024 is looking for stability in a job market that is far from stable. A recent report from Handshake surveyed 2,687 students planning to graduate with bachelor degrees in 2024 and found that, as the graduates enter a new chapter of their lives, they have mixed feelings about what comes next. They’re optimistic about their job prospects, with the majority saying they’re confident they can find a role that allows them to apply their skills and build their career. But finances and the economy are ongoing sources of stress, and many 2024 graduates are anxious about experiencing burnout or struggling to advance as they navigate the transition to full-time work. The survey uncovers five key trends:

  1. Worrying about finances and the economy. 67% feel confident they can find a job, but over half worry they won’t be able to cover their basic expenses.
  2. Relocating away from family and friends. Most graduates (79%) are willing to relocate if the right job comes along, but 86% prefer to remain in close proximity to family.
  3. Assessing employer reputation. 75% say they read reviews of employers before applying, and 73% are more likely to apply after they’re apprised of the behind-the-scenes of the employer.
  4. Applying to government jobs. Close to 7.5% of the 2024 class job applications are being submitted to government roles, compared to 5.5 percent for the class of 2023.
  5. Applying to a wider range of roles. The example the study gives is computer science majors in the Class of 2024 submitting a smaller share of their applications to software developer jobs and a larger share to roles in computer hardware and information security.

In summary, this year’s graduates are considering a range of factors in their job search, with job stability their top consideration. Plus, a majority are more likely to apply to a job that offers a high salary and schedule flexibility. “But for this class, two other factors stand out,” the report concludes. “The first is job location, particularly whether a job allows them to live near family and friends. The second is employer reputation, including whether an employer has demonstrated—through direct interaction, public-facing content or reviews—that they’re committed to treating employees well and fostering a positive work culture.”

The Biggest Hurdle Graduates Are Facing

Among the challenges and fears of the new graduates, perhaps the biggest hurdle of all is the difficulty they face in finding a job. Entry-level workers are losing confidence at a rapid clip. In March, their rate of a positive outlook dropped to 46.1%, the lowest it’s been since 2016, owing to a depressed hiring market and minimal turnover, according to Glassdoor.

Companies are not eager to hire entry level employees this year, according to new research from SHL. Companies plan to hire 5.8% fewer new graduates than they did last year, mainly because AI is coming for entry level jobs. Other findings include:

  • Only 24% of respondents indicated that their organization uses assessment for filling early career roles, and as budget and priorities increase it is expected that the use of assessments for these programs will increase too.
  • Only 27% of respondents said their companies ranked graduate hiring programs as their number one priority for the next year.
  • 57% of organizations are focusing more on hiring and developing talent internally.

Matt Kirk, owner, talent acquisition solutions at SHL, specializes in graduate hiring and sees the entry level role as a changing position. “Organizations’ emphasis on graduates’ communication, adaptability and reliability reflects the dynamic and collaborative nature of modern workplaces,” he explains. “Additionally, the need for graduates to manage up and deliver effective presentations highlights the growing importance of leadership and influence at all levels of an organization. These shifts are driven by the need for a workforce that can quickly adapt to changing business landscapes, contribute to a diverse and inclusive environment and align with the company’s strategic goals.”

A Final Optimistic Note

Overall, the Handshake survey showed that close to seven in 10 2024 graduates are confident they will find a job or other post-graduate opportunity that will allow them to apply the skills they learned in college and build toward the career they want. And for the 30% of grads who have a job or graduate program lined up, the report says that this optimism is proving to be justified: almost nine in 10 respondents say the opportunity they’ve committed to will enable them to apply their skills and build their career, and the majority say they chose this opportunity specifically because it offers a chance to grow and do work they’re passionate about.

The report concluded that, “This year’s graduates may be anxious about the future, but they’re as determined as ever to launch successful, rewarding careers. They’re clear on their priorities—stability, location and an employer’s reputation as a great place to work. They’re investing unprecedented energy in the job search, submitting more applications than previous classes and exploring a wider range of roles across industries. While their next steps might feel uncertain, one thing is for sure: the Class of 2024 is ready to make the most of every opportunity that comes their way.”

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