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Cath Everett

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Graduates focus on money, not idealism


Contrary to conventional wisdom, salary and other financial considerations are now top of the list for graduates when making their career choice, with idealism apparently having gone out of the window with the recession. 

According to a study undertaken by talent management consultancy Hay Group, a huge 93% of university leavers now see base pay as an ‘important’ or ‘very important’ factor when going for a job. A further 51% rate highly the benefits they are offered by potential employers, 45% are swayed by their future earnings outlook and 37% are interested in bonus potential.
Christopher Smith, Hay’s reward information consultant, said: “The economic climate is clearly influencing graduates’ career decisions. Acutely aware of the difficult labour market and rising living costs, they are looking for a career path that makes financial sense first and foremost. Idealistic factors barely come into consideration.”
For example, a mere 16% currently consider either a passion for the job or the values or beliefs of the organisation as important factors when choosing an employer. Being able to make a difference was rated lowest of all, however, appearing in only 4% of graduates’ top three criteria.
But Hays also found that university leavers were more pessimistic about potential starting salaries than those that were actually provided by most mid-to-large private sector organisations – the UK’s main graduate employers.
On average, the starting wage was underestimated by almost £7,500, with the biggest discrepancy found among engineers (expected salary of £20,418 versus an actual salary of £29,064) and the smallest one among HR professionals (expected salary of £19,712 versus an actual salary of £26,278).

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