What do YOU think makes a great graduate job?COMPANY CULTURE, TRAINING – OR COLD, HARD CASH?

A fat pay packet is no longer the top priority for job-hunting graduates, according to new figures. Despite their large student debt and the high cost of renting, only one in ten graduates rate salary as their top concern when sizing up employers and opportunities and looking for a great graduate job.

When professional services firm EY asked 1,000 students to rank the most important considerations when choosing a future employer, they were surprised by the results. For 35% of respondents, the top priority was ‘Access to training and development’ (an increase of 15% from last year).

In second place came ‘People and culture’ (21%), third was ‘The reputation of the business’ (14%) and fourth was ‘Good work life balance’ (13%). Salary and benefits came in fifth place, with only 11% of students rating it as the most important factor.

Julie Stanbridge, Head of Student Recruitment at EY said:

“Money clearly isn’t king for today’s graduates as this drop in importance shows. With the graduate job market recovering, the class of 2015 are making longer term decisions about what their first job will bring to their career prospects, rather than focussing on the quick win.

“It’s no surprise that training and development once again remains top but there is now more debate around what quality personal development looks like for new entrants to the workplace.

“We are seeing moves away from structured classroom based seminars and Powerpoint slides to on-the-job learning in dynamic teams and through working collaboratively on projects.”

Stanbridge said the picture emerging was of a generation of young people who want to feel good about their work, and how it fits with their values and the rest of their life. She said:

“Today’s graduates are looking for job satisfaction at inspiring and progressive workplaces, with initiatives such as flexible working being seen as ‘business as normal’ and something to be expected rather than a perk.

“Start-ups, especially, in the tech industry are leading the way in challenging traditional corporate cultures and norms. Larger graduate employers, however, aren’t resting on their laurels and are placing more importance in creating connections with students through face-to-face interactions at universities and careers fairs, as well as through social media.”

The poll also questioned students about where they looking for their first job. London proved to the most popular destination with 54% of graduates stating that they were hoping to start their career in the capital. The next most popular option was overseas, with 7% of students looking outside the UK. Stanbridge said:

“With the popularity of overseas gap years increasing, you can see why some graduates would want to seek out international opportunities. Many large companies, such as EY, offer opportunities to work with clients across the globe.

“However, for those who would rather stay closer to home, 42% of our graduate and student places are available outside of London and across the UK, which means students and graduates can work with a broader range of clients and companies than in London.”

EY, one of the UK’s largest student recruiters, is currently recruiting for over 800 graduate trainee positions, 100 school-leavers, and 500 places on its undergraduate programmes for 2015.

(Click her to read our article How to Get a Graduate Job at EY.)

At Graduate Fog, we have our own theory for these findings. Today’s young people are required to fork out tens of thousands of pounds for their degree, before being told to train themselves further for work by taking a low-paid or unpaid internship. Against that backdrop, perhaps it’s no wonder a job offer from an employer who’s prepared to train graduates while they earn is so treasured by today’s young jobseekers. 

Rank these options in order of their importance for you: 1) Training and development 2) People and culture 3) Reputation of the business 4) Good work-life balance 5) Salary and benefits. What matters the most – and what matters the least?

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