New York, N.Y. --Members of the class of 2005 appear optimistic about finding full-time jobs soon, although they are less certain that those jobs will meet their expectations, according to the results of a multinational survey released today by Accenture.
According to the findings of the survey -- which entailed querying 1,600 recent or soon-to-be college and university graduates in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany and Spain -- six in 10 respondents (59 percent) who are not working full-time said they anticipate beginning a full-time job within six months, and only one-fifth (20 percent) believe it will take more than one year to find a job.
The results are comparable to those of a similar survey that Accenture fielded last year, when 60 percent of respondents said they expected to find a job within six months and 16 percent thought the process would take more than one year.
This year, graduates in the United States and the United Kingdom are the most confident about finding a job soon -- 61 percent and 69 percent of respondents in those countries, respectively, said they believe they will find a job within six months, compared with 54 percent of respondents in both Germany and Spain and only 41 percent of respondents in France.
Despite this overall optimism, only about one-third (37 percent) of all respondents are extremely or very confident that those jobs will meet their expectations. Graduates in the United States and Germany are most optimistic, with 53 percent and 47 percent of respondents in those countries, respectively, saying they are "extremely confident" or "very confident" about finding jobs that meet their expectations. This compares with 36 percent, 27 percent and 21 percent of respondents in the United Kingdom, France and Spain, respectively.
"While graduates are optimistic about getting jobs - and more downbeat about getting the right jobs - employers have a different concern,” says Peter Cheese, Managing Partner of Accenture’s Human Performance Practice. “They are competing to get the best talent possible. Executives who clearly define roles and match new graduates' skills, aspirations and experience to those roles will succeed in attracting the right talent, and they will have more satisfied employees contributing at a higher level."
As was the case last year, graduates are unsure that their existing skills will help them find jobs. Just 23 percent - the same percentage as last year - reported that the most important skills they can offer prospective employers are their people/communication abilities. Their confidence in other skills has decreased since last year, including their ability to produce high-quality work in a timely manner (selected by only 17 percent this year, versus 20 percent last year), their education-based knowledge (18 percent, versus 20 percent last year) and their computer/technology skills (11 percent, versus 16 percent last year).
While respondents in last year's survey said they looked for training above other factors at their prospective jobs, this year's respondents said they hope to find fair compensation. Three-quarters (76 percent) of graduates in this year's survey cited fair compensation as the most important factor, compared with 64 percent last year. The change was particularly noticeable in Spain, where 95 percent of respondents this year cited fair compensation as the most important factor -- nearly double the 48 percent who selected it last year.
"Approachable and available management" was another factor that increased in importance, with 65 percent of respondents in this year's survey citing it as an important offering, versus 55 percent in last year's survey. Overall, training dropped in importance (from 71 percent to 65 percent this year), as did ethical management (from 48 percent to 44 percent). In France, only 22 percent of respondents reported that they seek a company with ethical management, a drop from 60 percent last year.
"Graduates' focus on getting jobs as soon as possible and on obtaining fair compensation may reflect something of today's economic uncertainties," says Cheese. "But a company's leaders face broader issues and challenges when it comes to finding the right role for these graduates and ensuring that management is approachable and available. Managers at all levels of the organization will have to recognize the skills these graduates need to develop and provide the inspirational leadership they seek."
Among the survey's other findings:
- The Internet is the job search method of choice. Almost three-quarters (72 percent) of graduates said they plan to conduct their job searches online, compared with two-thirds (67 percent) who said they will mail their resumes and approximately half (54 percent) who believe they will find jobs by "networking;"
- Graduates are serious about their careers. Until they begin full-time jobs, 59 percent of graduates will work part-time, 58 percent will continue studying, and 57 percent will read. Only 39 percent of this year's graduates expect to travel before beginning full-time jobs, compared with 54 percent last year;
- Health & life sciences is the most popular industry. When asked to select from a list of industries in which they would most like to work, respondents overall chose health/life sciences, media/entertainment and banking/financial services more frequently than any others, selected by 11, 10 and 7 percent of all respondents, respectively. When asked to select the industries in which they would least like to work, the greatest number of this year's graduates -- 18 percent -- chose metals/mining, followed by retail, chemicals and aerospace/defense, each selected by 8 percent of respondents.
The survey, fielded online in April and May 2005 by Lightspeed Research on behalf of Accenture, entailed 1,600 interviews with people 20-25 years of age in the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany and with people 20-26 years of age in Spain who have graduated college or university in the last six months or who expect to graduate in the next six months.