Millennials Feel More Prepared, Loyal for First Job

A new report finds ahead of this May’s college graduations, the class of 2014 is feeling more prepared to enter the workforce, and plans to stay longer at their first jobs than last years’ class.

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Two million Millennials are getting ready to enter the work force in the next month following their college graduations, and they’re more optimistic about their hiring prospects than recent grads.

According to a new report, 72% of students feel more optimistic about their job prospects this year—an 8% increase from the Class of 2013.

ConnectEDU, an education and career website, and Achievers,an employee recognition services firm, conducted the survey among 15,000 students.

Millennials, those ages 18 to 34, have been flooding the job market over the last decade, and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts this generation to make up  75% of the total work force by 2030.

Razor Suleman, CEO of Achievers, says the outlook has turned around among first time job seekers this year versus previous years, as more opportunities are presenting themselves.

“The buzz a few years back was about it being so hard to get a job,” he says. “The economy today is a little better, we are moving in the right direction, and that has infiltrated the college and university system. The horizon is that it’s getting better.”

Of 2014’s college graduates, 34% say they specifically want to work for smaller companies with fewer than 100 employees.

What’s more, this class is also feeling more “career-ready,” with 62% on a level 7 or higher  on a scale of one to 10. Suleman says this increase in career readiness is due in part to parents being more active with their children in high school and college.

“Parents have also taken more interest during the past five years and through the recession to make sure their kids have the skills necessary to enter the workforce,” he says.  “It’s a parent exit strategy. This relates to the type of work the student is doing as well. Some of these [job seekers] have been doing [career-related] functions in both high school and college.”

This year’s graduating class is hoping to commit longer to their first employer. The survey finds 43% intend to spend three to five years at their first job, an increase from two to five years in 2013.

However, Suleman says many recent grads only end up staying onboard with their first company for about 18 months due to an “opportunity gap.”

Fifty-four percent of the Class of 2014 says career advancement opportunities are most important to them in their job search, followed by salary at 39%.  And when it comes to rewards, travel benefits, are the top reward Millennials want from employers.

This generation also seeks instant accolades for their performance with 77% reporting they want to be recognized immediately for their performance, instead of waiting for an annual review.

“They don’t want to leave as quickly as they do,” Suleman says, referring to many Millennials leaving after 18 months. “The intention is to be there longer. But the problem is that when they get into the workplace, their annual performance review may not be what they were expecting. They need to be kept engaged—the workplace needs to change.”