For the first time ever, there are more jobs in the U.S. than candidates available to fill them. We are in a candidate-driven market. And while this poses an advantage to early career job seekers and university career centers, it’s a wake-up call for employers to compete intelligently to engage early career talent in 2019 and beyond.

At Handshake, we’re observing this hyper-competitive landscape unfold from a unique perspective. Our work sits at the crossroads of career-related activity between employers, students, and universities, allowing us to gain insight from 14 million students and recent alumni across 800 schools, and from the 420,000 employers engaging and recruiting early career talent on Handshake. That’s why I’m excited to share our second annual Campus to Career report.

Download the 2019 Campus to Career Report

In last year’s inaugural report, we identified the most popular industries, employers, and roles students and recent grads were applying to, along with keywords candidates were searching for, skills they brought to the table, and the cities where they wanted to work. This year’s report breaks down Gen Z’s influence on the recruiting landscape over the next several years, including:

  • Values they care about
  • Skills, roles, and location interests
  • Primary drivers of early talent hiring

These are the overarching themes we identified across the report’s findings:

What’s in a GPA? Not Much, Employers Say

In the past, talent acquisition and campus recruiting teams relied heavily on GPA to forecast how successful an early career candidate might be in their role. We all know performance in school work is correlated to performance in the workplace, but GPAs don’t always paint the most accurate portrayal of how successful a candidate might be on the job.

Employers on the Handshake platform are taking note, too. Handshake’s Premium partners have the ability to proactively engage early career candidates by targeting different qualifications and attributes, on top of GPA. According to data in our latest Campus to Career report, 66% of talent searches conducted by employers during the 2019 recruiting season did not include a GPA minimum–despite the availability of this functionality.

So what kind of experience are employers looking for instead? Employers are increasingly focused on finding students who’ve indicated career interests (31%) and competencies (30%) with their business. Download the full report below to see which competencies top the list.

Putting More Weight on Soft Skills

To be successful in a role, there’s no denying that a candidate should be well-versed in how to perform the responsibilities at hand. Thanks to the rise of artificial intelligence and automation tech tools, hard skills alone are no longer the only indicators of success.

Adaptability, creativity and other soft skills are becoming more relevant in the hiring process. When candidates–like college students–lack experience, recruiting for soft skills can even help employers hire for potential. In the next few years, we’ll see more talent acquisition leaders lean on technology and deploy use cases and team exercises to help assess a candidate’s soft skills.

Screening for soft skills also ensures that, if a role gets reassessed, talent will have elsewhere to go. Studies show that re-skilling an internal hire may take a year or so, but it can be done for a fraction of what it takes to hire an external candidate.

An Upwardly Mobile, Mobile Generation

Today’s college students grew up during a rapid age of mobile innovation. And their career trajectory perceptions reflect a similar pace. Our data finds that 3 in 4 Gen Zers believe they should be promoted within their first year of starting a job, and 32% believe they should receive a promotion in the first six months. This generation is incredibly ambitious–they crave recognition for their work and promotions often.More employees across age groups and demographics want and expect flexibility from their workplace, meaning the freedom to work wherever, whenever they want. This is especially true of Gen Z and we have good reason to believe why.

By the time they were teenagers, they already knew how to connect with others on-the-go. A testament to their era, the “mobile generation” prefers to remain connected at all times, with connectivity available in the palm of their hands. Engagement on the Handshake platform and our survey data agree. In Handshake’s student survey, for example, 95% told us that they engage with employers that send personalized, proactive outreach.

What the Future Holds

Students and young alumni can strengthen their candidacy by sharpening soft skills like communication, problem-solving, and building empathy while keeping an eye toward the future. If you’re a student, consider taking courses or joining extracurricular activities that help you nurture and strengthen these soft skills.

University career centers can apply these findings to better understand this next generation of college graduates, along with leading best practices to connect them with meaningful careers.

Employers, meanwhile, can set themselves apart from the 420,000 companies, governments, and nonprofits actively recruiting entry career talent on the Handshake platform by broadening their reach to more schools and leveraging the robust recruitment tech stack—including employer branding, segmentation, and lead generation—available to Handshake Premium customers.

“We want to expand our reach to create more meaningful connections with students from all backgrounds. We needed a solution like Handshake to expand our reach and create more meaningful connections with students from all backgrounds.”
–Jeremy Buentello, IBM University Recruitment Team

Whether you’re gearing up for your first job after college or are looking for data to help drive decisions at your university career center or your recruiting team, download 2019’s Campus to Career report today, then check back every few weeks as we dive deeper into the trends and insights impacting early career talent today.