Survey Finds Nearly 4 in 10 Employers Avoid Hiring Recent College Graduates in Favor of Older Candidates

Employers say recent college graduates struggle with eye contact, have unreasonable salary expectations, and dress inappropriately during job interviews, a trusted resource for online degree rankings and higher education planning, has published a recent survey report that examines why many employers do not want to hire Gen Z college graduates. The report also shares insight into the actions employers will take to avoid hiring recent college graduates. The survey garnered responses from 800 managers, directors, and executives in the U.S. who are involved in hiring decisions.

According to the survey, 39 percent of employers admit they avoid hiring recent college graduates for positions they are eligible for in favor of older candidates. This group of employers is willing to implement a variety of tactics to avoid hiring recent college graduates, including increasing benefits to attract older workers, paying higher salaries to older employees, allowing older employees work remote or hybrid, and hiring older employees for positions they are overqualified for.

With regards to job interviews, 53 percent of employers say recent college graduates ‘struggled with eye contact,’ 50 percent say they ‘asked for unreasonable compensation,’ and 47 percent say they ‘dressed inappropriately.’ Additionally, employers also cite that recent college graduates ‘used inappropriate language,’ ‘refused to turn on camera during a virtual interview,’ and ‘brought a parent to their interview.’

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“Employers need to recognize that, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, young people graduating from college had more than two years of disruption in their education as well as their social and professional development,” Gayeski says. “Current seniors were in their freshman year at the height of COVID. They likely took classes online and were unable to participate in clubs, internships, or summer jobs.”

Among employers who have worked with recent college graduates, 63 percent say they ‘can’t manage the workload,’ 61 percent say they ‘are late to start work,’ and 59 percent say they ‘hand assignments in late.’ Additionally, 63 percent of employers say recent college graduates ‘are entitled,’ 58 percent say they ‘get offended too easily,’ and 57 percent say they ‘are unprepared for the workforce.’

All data found within this report derives from a survey conducted on December 7, 2023 by the survey platform Pollfish and commissioned by In total, 800 U.S. managers, directors and executives who are involved in hiring were surveyed. Demographic criteria were used to ensure qualified respondents. This criteria included age (25+), household income (>$75,000), organizational role (C-Level executive, HR manager, director, president, owner/partner, senior management, and middle management), and company size (>10).

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