New Graduates Have Unrealistic Expectations for Pay, Survey Finds

May 03, 2013

Students graduating from college this year overestimate their chances of getting well-paying, full-time jobs in their field of study, according to the results of a new survey that compared their views with those of recent graduates.

Even though most recent graduates said they would need more training to get their desired job, and nearly half of those who are unemployed said they wished they had chosen a different major to make them more employable, students graduating this year still think they will land jobs in their desired fields without the need for additional training, according to the survey.

The survey results, released on Tuesday in a report by Accenture, drew on responses from more than 1,000 students who will graduate this year, as well as 1,000 graduates from 2012 and 2011, to compare the expectations of those soon entering the job market with recent graduates.

The survey found that this year's graduates have salary expectations that are out of whack with the current job market. Only 15 percent of 2013 graduates said they expected to earn less than $25,000 a year, while 32 percent of the 2011 and 2012 graduates surveyed said their annual salary was $25,000 or less. Nearly two-thirds of the 2013 graduates also said they expected to be employed full time in their field of study, even though just over half of recent graduates are working full time in their field of study.

Additionally, the survey found a gap between the expectations of 2013 graduates for employer-provided training, compared with what recent graduates have reported obtaining. More than three-quarters of this year's graduates said they expected to receive formal job training, and less than a quarter said they expected they would need to pursue a graduate degree to further their career. But less than half of recent graduates said they had received training in their first job, and 42 percent said they would need to pursue a graduate degree.

Authors of the report said employers needed to re-examine how they hire and train their employees, and to develop deeper partnerships with universities to better prepare students for the jobs that await them.

"A solution is sorely needed to bridge the disconnect between employers that are concerned about college graduates being unprepared for available jobs and the graduates who feel overqualified for them," said David Smith, senior managing director of Accenture's talent and organization practice.