Benefits and Compensation, HR Management & Compliance, Recruiting

Yea, Right! Gen Z College Grads Expect to Earn How Much Money?

Salary negotiations are pretty common among employers and jobseekers. According to a recent Recruiting Daily Advisor survey, over 73% of respondents say they’re open to negotiating a salary, depending on the position and over 17% say they’re open to negotiating a salary for every position. But how about negotiating a salary that’s $10,000 over the national average … for a recent college graduate with no experience?


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Yes, you read that correctly! New college graduates have pipe dreams about what they’ll be earning in the real world; expecting to make $10,000 more than the national average with little to no experience.
According to Tommy O’Shaughnessy, Research Analyst at Clever Real Estate, “the average Generation Z undergraduate expects to make $57,964 one year out of college, while the national median salary is $47,000 for recent grads with bachelor degrees who have between zero and five years of on-the-job experience.”
In a blog post for Clever Real Estate, O’Shaughnessy discusses recent findings from a survey Clever conducted to find out how to attract and hire college graduates from across the country. The survey of 1,000 undergraduates dug into salary expectations and career goals after college.
The Clever survey found that among all majors, Gen Z graduates over-estimated their salaries, but business majors were the “most delusional college students of all, expecting early-career salaries 31% above the national median,” says O’Shaughnessy. Additional research finds that students that graduate with a 4-year or graduate degree will earn about 23% less than they expect to right out of college.
Additionally, college graduates are over-estimating their long-term salaries as well. According to the survey, the average undergraduate also overestimates how much they’ll be making by mid-career (10 years out of college) by about $15,000.

How You Can Curb High Salary Expectations

How can recruiters, hiring managers, and HR professionals nip this issue in the bud? The answer isn’t to give this talent pool what they want, it’s to be upfront about what you’re willing to pay right off the bat, says one expert.
“Gen Z jobseekers are unique compared to previous generations and bring with them various new standards, such as the possibility of unrealistic salary expectations. One of the best ways to prepare for this type of situation is to clearly define a salary range for each specific position and communicate it with candidates early in the process,” says Jason Carney, HR Director at WorkSmart Systems—in an e-mail to Recruiting Daily Advisor.
“In today’s technological hiring landscape, many jobseekers search for opportunities using sites like Indeed or Glassdoor. These posting sites offer businesses the option to provide a salary range that is visible for applicants,” Carney adds. “Take advantage of this offering to ensure that candidates know what to expect before they even submit an application.”

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