What do graduates look for in an employer?

We’ve spoken much in the past about what employers look for when recruiting graduates. But as we hear more and more about the skills shortage in the UK, which is particularly biting for STEM industries, it has arguably become a seller’s market.

This means employers should start asking themselves if they are an attractive employer to the fresh-faced grads looking to take their first steps into the real world. But just what are today’s young candidates looking for?

Values they can get on board with

By 2025 75% of the workforce will be made up of the ‘millennial generation’. People who grew up acutely aware of the climate crisis and social issues, as such they are more interested in picking workplaces that have values that match their own.

It’s not just green values graduates are concerned with. Proof of an employer’s commitment to inclusion and diversity is vitally important to graduates. A 2020 study found that students believe the best thing employers could do to attract a more diverse workforce was practice blind recruitment.

It’s important to note that graduates view a fair wage for grads and interns as a crucial element of being an inclusive employer, this is because low and no wage internships vastly favour individuals from affluent backgrounds.

Contact time in real life

While the idea of being in the office 100% of the time may not appeal to many graduates (22%), they do not wish to be fully remote either. A study by the institute of student employers found that 72% of graduates desire a hybrid working environment, with just 6% of respondents saying they would prefer to be employed on a fully remote basis.

This is because graduates are looking to learn from their employer and the idea of completing endless e-learning courses to progress does not appeal. They also however want a higher degree of freedom to pick the ways they work.

Work-Life Balance

Research by LinkedIn has found that employers who can provide demonstrable proof of a good work/life balance appeal far more to graduates looking for jobs. It’s not enough to merely say you offer a decent work/life balance. Graduates are clued up and will do research on places such as GlassDoor to see if working for you actually does offer a good work-life balance or if it means hours upon hours of unpaid overtime, out of work emails, and a requirement to ‘always be available.’


In addition to a fair wage for a fair day’s work, graduates are interested in benefits that appeal to them. Free fruit and a pool table won’t cut it. Perks surrounding flexibility particularly appeal to Gen-Z and Millenials such as having the option to pick their hours. Other things that will always be popular include a healthy amount of paid holiday and a relaxed dress code.

A committed package to support employees’ mental health is also an increasingly popular offering.


Last but not least, grads want jobs with clearly defined development routes. Employers who can demonstrate the various routes their entry-level candidates follow will always appeal to people fresh from university. No one wants to feel like they’re entering a dead-end role, so be prepared to talk about progression in interviews.


Looking for more recruitment insight?

Check out our employers’ page for more resources and advice.