Salary Is Job Offer Tie Breaker for Class of 2021

October 29, 2021 | By Kevin Gray

STUDENT ATTITUDES
three people looking at a laptop screen

TAGS: compensation, nace insights, salaries, student attitudes, students, surveys, trends and predictions,

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Does salary matter to graduates from the college Class of 2021? No … and yes, according to results of NACE’s 2021 Student Survey.

A high starting salary was cited as the eighth most important attribute of a job by graduating seniors—far behind the opportunity to develop specific skills and job security and even trailing other forms of compensation, such as insurance/benefits packages. (See Figure 1.)

However, when it came to considering one job offer over another, more than 21% of responding seniors cited a high starting salary as the tie breaker, making it the most important factor that students take into account when making this decision. Job security trailed, with just 11% of respondents citing it as the key factor in deciding which job offer to accept.

Data for the 2021 Student Survey Reporton were collected from February 17, 2021, through May 14, 2021. In all, 15,351 bachelor’s degree students responded from 165 NACE-member four-year colleges and universities. Of these, 2,339 were Class of 2021 graduating seniors. Participating members can access the 2021 Student Survey Report at MyNACE > Research Reports; nonparticipating members can access an executive summary at www.naceweb.org/studentsurvey.

Figure 1: Percent of respondents indicating job attribute as either very or extremely important

Job Attribute
Opportunity to develop skills specific to the job
Percent Rating Attribute Very or Extremely Important87.0%
Job security
Percent Rating Attribute Very or Extremely Important86.4%
Opportunity to develop applied skills (e.g., communication)
Percent Rating Attribute Very or Extremely Important84.9%
Friendly co-workers
Percent Rating Attribute Very or Extremely Important84.3%
Good insurance/benefits package
Percent Rating Attribute Very or Extremely Important76.8%
Organization helps me improve my community/country/world
Percent Rating Attribute Very or Extremely Important75.2%
Organization embraces diversity
Percent Rating Attribute Very or Extremely Important71.8%
High starting salary
Percent Rating Attribute Very or Extremely Important70.2%
Clear agenda of corporate social responsibility
Percent Rating Attribute Very or Extremely Important68.4%
Organization offers opportunity for self-expression & creativity
Percent Rating Attribute Very or Extremely Important63.4%
Job Attribute Percent Rating Attribute Very or Extremely Important
Opportunity to develop skills specific to the job 87.0%
Job security 86.4%
Opportunity to develop applied skills (e.g., communication) 84.9%
Friendly co-workers 84.3%
Good insurance/benefits package 76.8%
Organization helps me improve my community/country/world 75.2%
Organization embraces diversity 71.8%
High starting salary 70.2%
Clear agenda of corporate social responsibility 68.4%
Organization offers opportunity for self-expression & creativity 63.4%
Source: 2021 Student Survey for Four-Year Schools, National Association of Colleges and Employers

Salary Is Job Offer Tie Breaker for Class of 2021

October 29, 2021 | By Kevin Gray

STUDENT ATTITUDES
three people looking at a laptop screen

TAGS: compensation, nace insights, salaries, student attitudes, students, surveys, trends and predictions,

Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals

Does salary matter to graduates from the college Class of 2021? No … and yes, according to results of NACE’s 2021 Student Survey.

A high starting salary was cited as the eighth most important attribute of a job by graduating seniors—far behind the opportunity to develop specific skills and job security and even trailing other forms of compensation, such as insurance/benefits packages. (See Figure 1.)

However, when it came to considering one job offer over another, more than 21% of responding seniors cited a high starting salary as the tie breaker, making it the most important factor that students take into account when making this decision. Job security trailed, with just 11% of respondents citing it as the key factor in deciding which job offer to accept.

Data for the 2021 Student Survey Reporton were collected from February 17, 2021, through May 14, 2021. In all, 15,351 bachelor’s degree students responded from 165 NACE-member four-year colleges and universities. Of these, 2,339 were Class of 2021 graduating seniors. Participating members can access the 2021 Student Survey Report at MyNACE > Research Reports; nonparticipating members can access an executive summary at www.naceweb.org/studentsurvey.

Figure 1: Percent of respondents indicating job attribute as either very or extremely important

Job Attribute
Opportunity to develop skills specific to the job
Percent Rating Attribute Very or Extremely Important87.0%
Job security
Percent Rating Attribute Very or Extremely Important86.4%
Opportunity to develop applied skills (e.g., communication)
Percent Rating Attribute Very or Extremely Important84.9%
Friendly co-workers
Percent Rating Attribute Very or Extremely Important84.3%
Good insurance/benefits package
Percent Rating Attribute Very or Extremely Important76.8%
Organization helps me improve my community/country/world
Percent Rating Attribute Very or Extremely Important75.2%
Organization embraces diversity
Percent Rating Attribute Very or Extremely Important71.8%
High starting salary
Percent Rating Attribute Very or Extremely Important70.2%
Clear agenda of corporate social responsibility
Percent Rating Attribute Very or Extremely Important68.4%
Organization offers opportunity for self-expression & creativity
Percent Rating Attribute Very or Extremely Important63.4%
Job Attribute Percent Rating Attribute Very or Extremely Important
Opportunity to develop skills specific to the job 87.0%
Job security 86.4%
Opportunity to develop applied skills (e.g., communication) 84.9%
Friendly co-workers 84.3%
Good insurance/benefits package 76.8%
Organization helps me improve my community/country/world 75.2%
Organization embraces diversity 71.8%
High starting salary 70.2%
Clear agenda of corporate social responsibility 68.4%
Organization offers opportunity for self-expression & creativity 63.4%
Source: 2021 Student Survey for Four-Year Schools, National Association of Colleges and Employers

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