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Recruiting College Graduates: Class of 2019

austin executive recruiters

U.S. employers will be recruiting nearly 17% more college graduates from the Class of 2019 than they did from the Class of 2018. In fact, this year marks the best hiring outlook for new undergrads since 2007. If you’re among those recruiting college graduates in the next few months, consider these insights into the job candidates you’re hoping to win over.


The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reports some interesting statistics about today’s college graduates. Of note:

  • More than 28% of U.S. employers surveyed by NACE plan to hire international students, representing a nearly 5 percent gain from last year. An impressive two-thirds of employers in the field of information (including IT) are recruiting international students from the Class of 2019, which is nearly double the amount as last year.
  • After being dropped from the list entirely last year, many engineering majors return as some of the most in-demand majors being hired right out of college. The top 10 college majors recruited this year are finance, accounting, mechanical engineering, computer science, business administration/management, electrical engineering, information science, logistics/supply chain, management information systems, and computer engineering.
  • The top-paid graduates this year will earn engineering ($69,188), computer science ($67,539), and math and sciences degrees ($62,177). Most starting salaries are rising, with agriculture and natural resources majors projected to see the greatest gains at 4.1%. Starting salaries for engineering majors are increasing by 4%, and computer science majors will start off earning 2.3% more than those who graduated last year.
  • Internship programs stay a viable way to recruit a top college grad. It was reported that last year the offer rate for interns was nearly 60% and, among those being offered a full-time job, 77% accepted.


With so much focus on recruiting the Millennial generation over the past decade, it’s hard to fathom that they aren’t the new kids on the block anymore. But if you haven’t gotten acquainted with Generation Z—the generation that defines the Class of 2019—now’s the time.

Gen Z is defined by Pew Research as anyone born in 1997 or later. To put this generation into perspective: It’s the first to not meaningfully remember the 9/11 terrorist attacks or the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan (although their outlook is affected by the country’s constant war on terror and many mass shootings). They’re more focused on saving money than Millennials, likely because their childhoods were shaped during the 2008 recession. And they’re also the first to (almost literally) be born with a smartphone lodged into their hands. In other words, they are the world’s first true digital natives.

While you were adapting to Millennial work styles, Gen Z was developing their own views on work and life. And while we all know that generalizing an entire generation can be trivial, it might be helpful to note that Gen Z work habits tend to differ from Millennials in several key areas. In fact, they’ve often been compared to the Silent Generation. The Visual Capitalist complied the following statistics to illustrate these surprising predominant workplace styles. In short:

  • 72% of Gen Z workers prefer face-to-face conversations despite half admitting to being connected online for 10 hours or more a day.
  • 69% prefer their own workspace over the open-office environments many Millennials embrace.
  • 77% expect to work harder than previous generations.

Perhaps the most prominent difference between the two youngest generations in the workforce is that Gen Z tends to approach work pragmatically as opposed to Millennials who are more idealistic. According to Accenture, 88% of new college graduates chose their major based on job availability, and the majority looked for fields that promised long-term growth.

“Essentially, Gen Z workers are approaching the corporate environment with an attitude of open-mindedness rather than entitlement. They realize they must learn and then earn,” observes Sarah Kruger, Accenture Managing Director – Talent & Organization Lead for Financial Services Australia. “If there were watchwords for this relationship between the newest generation of workers and their employers, those words would be ‘reciprocal’ and ‘tailored.’ This generation is prepared to bend to the demands of a fast-paced, corporate environment…However, they expect the companies they work for to be equally flexible in helping them achieve work-life balance.”


Before recruiting the newest college graduates, you need to attract their attention. The Class of 2019 is constantly connected online, but they may not respond to digital recruiting efforts the way you might think. Here are some tips:

  • You’re not going to recruit them on Facebook. While you may have luck posting jobs and events on Facebook for other generations, the Class of 2019 generally isn’t hanging out there. Only 9% prefer to use Facebook for their social media, and that number is declining rapidly.
  • For recruiting your youngest employees via social media, look to Instagram and Snapchat. These platforms are grounded in the soft sale using visual storytelling, which is tricky to master. It’s important to hone your video and photo strategies and to nail elements like captions, hashtags, link posting, and check-ins. Here are some additional tips.
  • Keep your branding consistent. This class is so digitally savvy that they’ll seek out more information about your company online before responding to a job listing or ad. If the branding or language they get from these different sources—like your social presence versus your website—differs drastically, expect them to be immediately distrusting.
  • If your corporate culture embraces private offices over open/constantly collaborative environments: don’t be afraid to flaunt it once more. It seems the Class of 2019 is “so over” the group-think style that has shaped the Millennial office space.
  • The Class of 2019 expects competitive offers since most will be in high demand. They also distrust companies that aren’t transparent. According to LinkedIn, 73% of organizations are still not ready to share salary information during the hiring process. If you are—and your compensation is fair (if not generous)—you’ll be one giant step ahead of the competition for newly graduated talent.

The bottom line is that the Class of 2019 seems to have listened to what employers need: They’re better aligned with their degrees, hard skills, and even expectations and attitudes as many of the classes preceding them. But they’re also in high demand, and while they’re easy to find online, they’re difficult to impress. Outsourcing your recruiting efforts for some of your hardest to fill positions could save you the heartbreak of missing out on hiring these bright young minds.


The HT Group fills roles in Temporary Staffing, Executive Search, Technical Recruiting, and Retained Search.

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