15 Facts Employers Should Know About the Class of '15

Looking straight up, the sky's the limit as new graduates toss their caps into the air.

Watch out, business world: more than 1.8 million students plan to earn their bachelor’s degrees this year, many of them this month.

The law of large numbers tells us that there's a good probability that some of this year's graduates will become tomorrow’s leaders. In fact, smart companies are already out there recruiting the best and brightest, not sitting back and hoping the most talented candidates will come to them.

Of course, here’s another fact: trying to understand recent college graduates can be bewildering for many of today’s employers. Every graduating class brings with it a different set of experiences and characteristics, having grown up in a fundamentally different world than people in previous generations. And you won't find these differences in their cover letters.

To better understand the perspectives of these potential new recruits, here are 15 facts employers need to know about the class of 2105:

1. They have power in numbers.

In the beginning of 2015, the millennial generation surpassed Generation X to make up the largest share of the U.S. labor force, meaning this year’s graduates will be the first to join a job market in which their peers represent a majority.

2. But they don't think bigger is better.

Only 15 percent of this year’s U.S. college graduates want to work for a large company, while 35 percent said they’d prefer a medium-sized employer, according to a recent Accenture survey.

3. They're as confident as ever.

Four out of five 2015 graduates believe they are well-prepared for the workforce, and more than a quarter expect to start out making $50,000 a year, Accenture also found in its May 2015 report.

4. Many are faced with repaying student loanes.

The Class of 2015 is officially the most indebted ever, with more than $35,000 in average student loan debt per person. Even after adjusting for inflation, that's more than double the average from 20 years ago.

5. They're looking for jobs while on the go.

About two-thirds of 2015 grads are planning to use or have used a mobile app to search for a job, and more than a quarter think social networking is the best way to find a job.

6. They crave career creativity.

Millennials are slightly more inclined than other generations to consider creativity as a very important job characteristic, according to an analysis by the Council of Economic Advisers.

7. They are ready to commit to a job.

Despite popular opinion that today’s generation is more likely to bounce from job to job, recent grads are actually staying at their companies longer than Generation Xers did at their age. An analysis of U.S. Census data shows millennials are more likely than the previous generation to stay at their job for as long as three to six years.

8. But they're not ready to commit in that other way.

The average millennial woman won’t marry until she’s 27, and the average millennial man won’t be married until he’s 29. Fifty years ago, the average 21-year-old would be getting married any day now, according to Pew Research data.

9. They mean business.

Business is still the most popular college major in the U.S., with more than one in five graduates earning a business degree. The percentage of graduates majoring in business peaked at more than 25 percent in 1987, and today that number is around 21 percent.

10. And they want business to be fun.

About 60 percent of 2015 graduates say they’d prefer to work somewhere with a good social atmosphere and receive a lower salary rather than at a less fun company with higher pay, according to Accenture.

11. But they're still skeptical of businesspeople.

When a 2014 YouGov survey asked millennials which businesspeople they admire most and supplied a list of 20 business leaders like Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and Oprah Winfrey, the second most popular response was, “I do not respect and admire any businesspeople,” and Bill Gates was #1.

12. Most want meaning in the workplace.

About six in 10 millennials currently in the workforce said that finding a sense of purpose was a factor in choosing their careers, according to a 2015 global survey by Deloitte. Deloitte also found that when employees report a high sense of purpose, they report high job satisfaction as well.

13. Most want to keep growing.

Millennials are significantly more likely than previous generations to say that the opportunity to learn new skills and advance their careers are important job attributes, according to an employee survey by PayScale.

14. And most want the same things other people want.

PayScale’s survey also found that millennials, Generation Xers and baby boomers are all equally likely to value pay, work/life balance, coworkers and benefits as important job attributes.

15. More than anything else, they defy description.

Millennials are the most diverse and independently minded generation in history. Although all this information might be helpful, companies simply need to expect the unexpected when it comes to the Class of 2015.

What other facts would you add? Disagree with any of these we have here? Send us a note at socialmedia@insuremypath.org, and we may include your feedback in a future story!