Today's high school and college students have higher career aspirations than ever, and employers should be paying attention to their future workforce.
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"What are your plans after graduation?" It's a question that high school and college students are forced to answer ad nauseam to every academic adviser and older relative. If students don't have a post-grad plan yet, the very mention of this question can induce fear and panic. But those who do know what they want from their careers can provide employers with a wealth of insight about their future talent pipeline.
Since 2008, the National Society of High School Scholars (NSHSS), a nationwide organization of student academic scholars and young professionals, has released an annual survey highlighting the fields, companies and environments in which its members hope to work. James Lewis, president and co-founder of the NSHSS, said that businesses that want to attract, hire and retain top young, diverse talent should be paying attention to the career goals of this up-and-coming generation of workers.
"This year, an estimated 28 million millennials will enter the workforce," Lewis told BusinessNewsDaily. "Understanding the attitudes, habits and preferences of students, particularly high-achieving scholars, is critical to the future of local economies across the globe." [8 Amazing Job Benefits That Keep Employees Happy]
According to the NSHSS' 2013 Millennial Career Survey, health; business; science and technology; entertainment and media; government; and education were among the top fields respondents were most interested in for their future careers. This is reflected in the top five companies NSHSS members want to work for: St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, The Walt Disney Company, their local hospital, Google and Apple.
Nearly 70 percent of respondents said one of the most important factors in choosing an employer was whether the company encourages work-life balance. About half of respondents ranked workplace diversity as being important to their decision.
"Millennials are growing up in more culturally rich environments, particularly in large cities, where one will find people of all backgrounds," Lewis said. "Because of this exposure, NSHSS scholars overwhelmingly believe that companies having strong diversity and inclusion programs are more adept at generating innovative ideas, demonstrating respect for their employees and offering cultures that stimulate learning."
So what's the best way for employers to reach Millennial talent? The overwhelming majority of survey respondents (nearly 90 percent) said they prefer to be contacted about employment opportunities by email. About 55 percent said one of the best ways to pass along job information was in person, such as at a career fair or networking event, and 42 percent said they would like to receive a phone call. While LinkedIn is a front-runner for post-graduate workers seeking career opportunities, students have yet to jump on the bandwagon: Only 8 percent of survey respondents want to be contacted via LinkedIn.
Lewis advised young workers to be open to exploring new ideas and experiences as they work toward their career goals.
"In searching for a job, researching and networking are two important factors in finding a position that is the right fit for you," he said. "Don't be afraid to fail."
Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.