Graduates’ Top Priority with First Jobs Isn’t Money

What do new graduates want out of their first job? Is it all about the money, or are they seeking something more?

Earlier this year, The Muse surveyed 900 new graduates about their job outlook. Some 57 percent of those respondents had a bachelor’s degree or higher, while 36 percent cited high school as their highest degree. Many are pursuing technology-related careers (for example, 18.2 percent said they wanted a job that involved data and analytics).

Whatever their background, money isn’t the only motivator when it comes to picking that first post-grad job: A full 25 percent of graduates said learning and growth opportunities were their top priority, while almost as many cited work-life balance. Compensation was just slightly ahead of benefits and team culture. Take a look at the full breakdown:

Other surveys have reinforced the idea that employer-sponsored training and education can boost morale and employee retention, and not just for graduates. Last year, in a Udacity and Ipsos poll of 2,000 managers and 4,000 employees, some 47 percent of respondents stated that “having opportunities to improve their skills encourages them to stay with their current companies.” Fifty-six percent agreed “that having the opportunity to improve their skills will boost happiness at the workplace.”

At around the same time, a survey by Oracle and Workplace Intelligence found that 34 percent of workers wanted learning and development opportunities from their employers—ahead of the 31 percent who wanted higher salaries.

The tech unemployment rate hit 1.7 percent in July, down slightly from 1.8 percent the month before. There’s a crunch for tech talent at the moment, and not every company can afford to compete on salary alone. Offering educational and training opportunities could prove the crucial differentiator that companies need to land the best specialists—and the most promising graduates.