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2018 graduates, get ready – they’re coming

April 4, 2018

By Sara Pebbles, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

In the next few months college graduates will be walking across the commencement stage and into your organizations.   According to ASE’s 2018 Salaries for Co-op Students and Recent College Graduates Survey, 73% of the respondents have hired a recent college graduate in the past year or plan to do so in 2018.  If you plan on hiring recent graduates this year, now is the time to take a look at your recruiting efforts as well as the criteria you use in making your hiring decisions.
While almost three quarters reported that they have plans to hire recent graduates, fewer than a quarter plan on increasing their recruiting efforts to do so.  The majority of organizations reported that their hiring efforts have remained the same compared to the previous year. Despite the current unemployment rate or any decreasing trends in hiring, organizations continue to want to attract new talent coming out of college.  If your organization is hoping to secure the top talent this year, trying new ways to recruit can help your organization stand out and reach more graduates.
Data from our recent survey suggests that fewer than half of the respondents have a program to actively recruit on college campuses.  However, for those that do, the top five schools were Michigan State University; University of Michigan; Oakland University; Wayne State University; and Michigan Technological University.  Although organizations might target certain schools to recruit new graduates, this year’s survey also showed that 100% of respondents reported that they do not pay premiums for graduates from specific schools. 
When asked to rate factors that are used in making hiring decisions of recent college graduates the top five factors were: related coursework, computer skills, degree level, internship/work experience, and G.P.A.  Employers, eager for new hires to make an immediate impact, have realized the benefit of prior related experience.  They have also realized the limitations of relying on G.P.A. as an indicator of future success on the job.
Perhaps the most important thing to be prepared for when hiring recent college graduates are the potential skill gaps your organization might find between where you expect recent graduates to be and where they are.  The top five perceived shortcomings of recent college graduates were adaptation to work environment, career expectations, compensation expectations, prioritizing/time management, and verbal communication skills.  Organizations need to be prepared with personal development plans and opportunities to help graduates grow their skill sets once hired.  
Based on hiring activity, the top three technical Bachelor’s Degree disciplines hired in the past year were Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, and Computer Science.  The top three non-technical disciplines were Business Administration, Accounting, and a tie between Finance and HR/Labor Relations.  The hiring of graduates with an HR/Labor Relations degree for companies with 1 to 100 employees went from 0% in 2017 to 14% this year.
While it varies based on degree, the average starting salary for graduates with a technical Bachelor’s Degree was $56,064 and for those with a non-technical Bachelor’s degree it was $44,436.
To obtain copies of ASE’s 2018 Salaries for Co-op Students and Recent College Graduates Survey members should visit their Dashboard on the ASE website. These surveys are available free of charge to ASE members and for $525 to non-members.  Non-members can contact the survey team at to purchase.

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