New college graduates from the class of 2024 are prioritizing economic security and benefits as they enter the workforce, according to a report released today by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. 

NACE defines “economic security” as job stability. 

Top attributes and benefits new college graduates seek in their dream job include job security, annual salary increases, a healthy workplace culture, friendly co-workers, a good benefits package — featuring a company-matched 401(k) and employer-paid health insurance — opportunities to develop applied skills, and mental health and wellness benefits.  

The study noted that these preferences are similar to those of earlier classes.  

“Job security and good benefits were high on the wish list for the college class of 2024,” NACE president and CEO Shawn VanDerziel said in a press release. “In fact, over the years, new college graduates have consistently identified health insurance, 401(k) plans, and annual salary increases as important. In general, those who are starting their careers are looking for a measure of security and support.” 

However, VanDerziel highlighted a significant difference between current graduates and those from a decade ago. 

“Pre-pandemic, where you performed your job wasn’t even a thing for most people. Now, new graduates are considering their options,” VanDerziel said.  

The report also found that 2024 graduates are divided on their workplace preferences. While 51% want to work exclusively in person, 43% prefer a hybrid work environment — spending some of their work time in the employer’s formal setting and some in a virtual environment. 

“Very few want to work exclusively in a virtual environment,” VanDerziel said. “That’s not surprising: Those new to the job want to establish themselves as valuable employees and build relationships with their colleagues. The perception is that it’s easier to make those connections if you are in the office at least part of the time.” 

NACE’s 2024 Student Survey, sponsored by Indeed, was conducted from March 13 to May 15 and includes responses from 2,281 graduating seniors earning bachelor’s degrees. 

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