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College Students Optimistic About Job Prospects

College Students Optimistic About Job Prospects
Credit: Olivier Le Moal/Shutterstock

College students are optimistic about their futures. More than three-quarters of students between the ages of 18 and 24 believe they will land a full-time job within five months of their graduation, with just 4 percent predicting the search process will take at least a year, according to a study by Adecco Staffing, USA.

Joyce Russell, president of Adecco Staffing, USA, said students have good reason to feel so optimistic about finding a job in such a short time.

"With the national unemployment rate at an eight-year low, this year's graduates are fortunate to be entering a candidate's market with more job openings than have been available to graduates in recent memory," Russell said in a statement. "With numerous opportunities to pursue, the question for grads is no longer how to find ajob, but, rather, how to find the right job."

Most students plan to prioritize stability over passion when looking for work. Nearly 70 percent of those surveyed would rather have a stable job lacking passion, than a job they feel passionately about that lacks stability. [See Related Story: The 10 Best Jobs for College Graduates ]

Today's students are also looking for opportunities to grow professionally. Thirty-six percent of students said career growth opportunity is the most important factor when choosing their first job, compared to only 11 percent who said a friendly work environment was imperative, and 8 percent who think it's critical to land a job that pays well.

"With opportunity for career growth clearly a top selling point for candidates, employers looking to attract top talent should emphasize available professional development and career paths in the interview process," said Russell. "Providing talent with training, mentorship as well as a clear career trajectory can potentially increase loyalty and retention."

Having grown up in a world built around technology, the research shows Generation Z job searchers plan to use it to their advantage when looking for work. The study found that 64 percent of those surveyed will turn to Facebook to assess potential employers, with 42 percent relying on LinkedIn. Instagram and Twitter will also be used by more than 20 percent of students.

"The role of social media is apparent in the lives of 18-24 year old students, and platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn are being used to research the various aspects of finding a job," the study's authors wrote.

Students are feeling optimistic about their potential to land a job quickly, despite a belief they aren't being properly prepared for today's work environment. Nearly three-quarters of those surveyed think colleges and universities are failing to equip students for the working world in at least one way, including that these institutions aren't teaching applicable "real life" business skills and aren't providing potential internship opportunities or enough career services.

"With the skills gap continuing to permeate the workforce, it's critical today's students obtain training and experience that will allow them to hit the ground running upon their entry into the 'real world,'" Russell said.

While they think colleges could be doing more to help them get ready for the working world, the vast majority of students understand the value of a college education. Ninety percent of those surveyed believe that if they want a well-paying job, a college degree is a must.

The study was based on surveys of 1,004 students between the ages 18 and 24 who are currently in college or just recently graduated.

Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based writer and editor with nearly 20 years in media. A 1998 journalism graduate of Indiana University, Chad began his career with Business News Daily in 2011 as a freelance writer. In 2014, he joined the staff full time as a senior writer. Before Business News Daily, Chad spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Chad has also worked on the other side of the media industry, promoting small businesses throughout the United States for two years in a public relations role. His first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014. He lives with his wife and daughter in the Chicago suburbs.