KPMG student survey shows money not top factor in job choice

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When choosing their first employer, college business students want career opportunities, not salary and benefits, according to a survey conducted by KPMG LLP, the audit, tax and advisory firm.

In the KPMG survey of 2,409 business students from colleges across the country, 57 percent said that career opportunities would be their primary consideration when choosing an employer, followed by 22 percent who said work/life balance was most important. Only 12 percent felt that the salary and benefits package would be their primary consideration.

And while many (53 percent) respondents only expect to stay at their first job for three to five years, the survey found that students largely have a 'wait and see' attitude. An overwhelming number (74 percent) responded "maybe" when asked if changing jobs is necessary for career opportunities.

"While there is no doubt that companies need to think of quality of life issues when trying to attract new recruits, 'millennials' want jobs that help them build a career and create opportunities for the future," said Manny Fernandez, KPMG's national managing partner - campus recruiting. "After accepting an offer, new recruits look at the career value proposition and employers must offer a rewarding career path to retain new hires."

The KPMG survey results show that an international rotation may be important to retention efforts. Forty-seven percent of college students surveyed indicated that they would like to work abroad for an extended period, while another 40 percent said they would consider it. And 61 percent stated that they believe international work experience is important in the business world.

"Many students study abroad and appreciate employers that provide opportunities to explore global assignments," said KPMG's Fernandez. "Firms that place an emphasis on developing people by offering global opportunities will be at the forefront of attracting the best and the brightest, since students realize that this experience is imperative in a global marketplace."

The KPMG survey, which was conducted online in September and October, also found students to be confident about their futures. In fact, 65 percent of respondents believe they will be more financially successful than their parents. But as to whether they will consult their parents about their first jobs, the responses were mixed. Thirty-nine percent of respondents expressed that they will consult with them somewhat, 17 percent said they will spend significant time with them, and 28 percent said they "possibly" will consult with them. Only 16 percent said that they would probably accept and then tell their parents where they will be working.

Other survey findings:

  • 48 percent of college students said they would like to retire between ages 51-60, with 27 percent indicating between ages 61-70.

  • 44 percent said they expect to work on average 50 hour work weeks, while 32 percent said 45 hours a week.

  • 66 percent are concerned about the social networking opportunities at their full time employer.

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