More than Money: What College Graduates Really Want in a Job

College graduation parties and ceremonies are set to take over Lakeland the next few weekends, with young men and women celebrating their accomplishments, but also trying to figure out what adulting without cafeteria plans and “heavy loads” of 15 hours of courses will be like.

When college graduates are thinking about applying for new jobs, they have different priorities and expectations than their parents did, which means if you own a business or work in HR, you need to be in tune with how those expectations are informing their job search. 

According to experts who study this stuff, there are three main things that are important to college graduates when they’re considering jobs. Here’s what many college grads are saying:


“Just let me live a little.”

Having a good balance between work and the rest of their life is really important to them.

Millennials especially think that it’s important to have a job that doesn’t mess up their personal time too much—and while it might seem like a mulish desire, it is increasingly evident that happier employees are in fact more productive.

Ways to accomplish this are competitive paid leave policies, flexible work schedules, team-building activities off-site and focusing more on productivity and growth than hours put in.


“Can I see myself there in 5 or 10 years?”

Second, they want jobs that will give them opportunities to learn and grow in their careers.

A 2022 study by the Muse, said 25% of respondents said job growth and learning opportunities were their top priority when considering available jobs.

They want to work for companies that will teach them new things, help them get better at their job, and maybe even give them a chance to get promoted or move up in the company.

If your business doesn’t have a professional development strategy for employees, now might be a good time to develop one.


“I want my employer to care about what I care about.”

Finally, they care a lot about what kind of company they work for. They want to work for companies that share their values and care about the same things they do.

According to a report by Glassdoor, 77% of job seekers consider a company’s culture before applying for a job.

They want to know that the company they work for is honest and does good things for the world. In fact, some data suggests a lot of employees would take a lower-paying job if it meant they could work for a company that they believed in.


So there you have it. College graduates want jobs that let them have a life outside of work, give them chances to grow in their career, and that are at companies that share their values. If companies want to hire the best and brightest young people, they need to make sure they’re offering these things.