There will be roughly 1.8 million graduates in the class of 2016, adding to the most educated generation in U.S. history.
But a pool of educated candidates does not necessarily equate to jobs filled. So how to attract this next generation of talent?
A recent survey by Indeed shows that one employee benefit you may not have considered could be a key differentiator for your hiring: student loan assistance.
In a national survey of 2,500 graduating seniors, Indeed found that 25% of graduating seniors are prioritizing student loan assistance in their job hunting. Of that cohort, 61% are specifically targeting jobs with the benefit. Meanwhile, a whopping 86% of graduates have started paying, or will start paying off their loans within the first year of graduation.
While student loan payment is obviously a source of stress for many graduates, it has not appeared to dim their optimism in joining the workforce. Over 86% of college seniors expressed optimism in finding full-time work after graduation, and 92% expect they will find their desired job.
These two insights into the class of 2016 present an opportunity for employers to stand out in the job market. By providing, and highlighting, student loan assistance as a benefit, you can show your interest in helping graduates in an area of pressing, and long-term concern.
Indeed data currently shows that less than one percent of job postings list “student loan assistance,” and though that is up from recent years, it has actually declined recently. A study by the Society for Human Resource Management shows only 3% of employers offer student debt repayment as a benefit, whereas many other types of offerings rank much higher.
It’s true that some companies have made headlines touting this particular offering for employees, including investing firms Fidelity Investments and Natixis Global Asset Management, as well as auditing and consulting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers. But generally speaking, these companies seem to be in the minority.
Our survey found that student loan assistance may be particularly helpful for graduates that will need to meet other costs, including basic living costs. A relatively large 37% of graduates say they will be living with their parents for 12 months after graduating. Furthermore, 77% of them are looking to live in the 20 largest cities, as led by New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
Of course, challenges like paying off student loans should be taken in context. College graduates continue to have more opportunities in the U.S.’s bifurcated labor market than those without. The trick is how to help match them to the right jobs, and keep up their optimism well beyond graduation day.