The employee benefits that graduates really care about
Wednesday, April 24, 2019

It's a competitive market where recruiters are vying for the top candidates. When you’re competing for the cream of the crop, you need to know what the candidates are looking for. As the graduate job scrabble is a challenge for both employers and graduates to grapple with, we’ve used the results from the 2018 Trendence Graduate Study to identify the employee benefits that graduates really care about to keep you ahead of the game. 

Career Progression

In the 2018 Trendence Graduate Study, good career prospects (97%*) are the top consideration and this is linked to training and development (94%), being appreciated at work (93%), a good employer leadership style (92%), job security (91%) and personal development (96%). Graduates are looking for those employers who promote a culture of ongoing learning: whether this is via upskilling training or other further skills programmes. Indeed, 76% of British workers believe in the importance of upskilling but only 46% of this group actually get the support they feel they deserve1. Investing in the employee acts as an incentive for them to stay within the industry and a boost to employee loyalty. Having the right infrastructure in place for continued learning leads to balance and greater career satisfaction. When you consider that a graduate takes on an average of £50,000 in student debt2, they’re looking for a return on this investment. This return can come in the form of personal and professional development. 

Factors such as job security and being appreciated at work follow on from these opportunities if the working relationship is mutually beneficial. These incentives act as a boost to productivity in the workplace and therefore need to remain visible. If you aren’t already marketing such opportunities, you certainly should be! 

Transparency + Authenticity 

The average UK starting salary for graduates is £19,000 - £22,0003. Interestingly, corporate hitters such as status and prestige (59%), top-of-the-range offerings (67%), employer success in the market (78%), international travel (68%) and a jet-setting starting salary (70%) aren’t necessarily what graduates are looking for to hit the ground running. These statistics show that employers shouldn’t be making assumptions on what’s appealing to graduates. Having a good work-life balance (93%) with a high level of personal responsibility (80%) far outweighs the material concerns that are typically associated with success. This shows that the tides are changing for a new generation of hires who are looking for more than just boxes ticked. Graduates are more likely to make an informed decision based on what is perceived to be an authentic, well-supported working culture. A discerning approach to your attraction campaign is critical to secure the best of the best. 

Location + Working Culture 

Speaking of working culture, this still counts in a big way. At a time when students are more likely to relocate for the right position (60% of students are willing to move over 50 miles from their home) and an attractive location matters. Equally, having a diverse pool of talent to mix with and an employment structure that promotes equal opportunity is expected by a socially aware generation of graduates. That 90% of graduates are hoping to find friendly colleagues speaks volumes as we work to tackle loneliness in the workplace, support mental health and wellbeing, and bolster our inclusion policy. Be sure to foster a tolerant community, with a focus on the individual wherever possible. These are key to staying competitive and appealing to the top graduate candidates. 

In the 2018 Trendence Graduate Study​, students ranked the importance of these factors as follows: 

1. Good career prospects (97%)
2. Personal development (96%)
3. Training and development (94%)
4. Good work-life balance (93%)
5. Being appreciated at work (93%)
6. Good employer leadership style (92%)
7. Job security (91%)
8. Friendly colleagues (90%)
9. Attractive job work tasks (90%)
10. Diversity/ Equal opportunity (84%)
11. High level of personal responsibility (80%)
12. Innovation (80%)
13. Employer success in market (78%)
14. Attractive location (72%)
15. Corporate social responsibility (72%)
16. High starting salary (70%)
17. International interaction/opportunities (68%)
18. Attractive products/services (67%)
19. Status and prestige (59%)

Our research shows graduates are discerning when taking their first steps into the working world. You need to assure this audience that you will deliver on the employee benefits that really matter to them. The message? Stay ahead of your competitors to attract the best candidates! 

Trendence UK is the largest student‐focused market research business in the UK and can help employers develop a hiring strategy and refine their early careers recruitment campaigns. To find out how Trendence UK could help you improve your next recruitment campaign, contact Eimear McNabb on or call on 020 7654 7235.

* Using the 62,814 responses from the 2018 Trendence UK Graduate Survey, percentages have been calculated using the factors students ranked as ‘very important’ or ‘important’ when choosing an employer. 



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