Industry Market Trends

Employment Survey Reveals Job Reality for Recent College Grads

May 07, 2013

A recent college graduate survey indicates that a significant percentage of new grads are underemployed or have jobs that do not require their degrees. Most of the approximately 1,000 2011-2012 grads polled also claim that they will need additional training to qualify for the job they want.

The Accenture survey, conducted between March and April, captured responses from students graduating this year and those who graduated in 2011 and 2012. Forty-one percent of 2011-2012 college grads say that they are underemployed and 7 percent say that they have been unemployed since graduation.

The new findings reflect similar feedback from a 2012 PayScale survey that revealed that most workers aged 18-29 with a bachelor's degree had jobs that did not require a college diploma.

Although many young grads cited having difficulty finding their job, the good news for students nearing graduation is that over half (53 percent) with diplomas are employed full-time in their field of study. Of the graduates that are not employed in their major, many said that there were either not enough job openings in the field they studied or that the job search for their chosen profession was taking too long.

College Grad Regrets & Employment

Almost half (48 percent) of unemployed graduates say that they would have had a better chance in the job market with a different major, while 16 percent admitted that they may have fared better attending a different school, according to Accenture. The top three most desirable industries that new grads want to work in are education, media and entertainment, and healthcare, though the highest percentage of graduates have a STEM degree (24 percent), ahead of business and arts and humanities (21 percent).

Are College Grads Prepared?

Even though most 2011 and 2012 college grads believe that their education prepared them for their jobs and careers and that their investment in education was worthwhile, most (63 percent) also say that they will need more training to get to their desired job level. Most (77 percent) also expect their first employer to provide formal training, a benefit that may be necessary for the 50 percent of unemployed grads who say that they are being told by companies that they "do not have enough experience."

The Best Ways to Land a Job

For many new grads, the best way to gain more experience and ultimately land a job is through internships, though out of the 72 percent of recent grads who had an internship during their college years, just 42 percent said it led to a job.  The size of the company may play a play a major factor in whether interns are hired. According to a comprehensive poll by in 2012, 69 percent of companies with 100 or more employees said that they offered full-time jobs to their interns.

Most recent grads (73 percent) and grads-to-be (71 percent) claim that their degree is the biggest help in landing a job, followed by a creative resume, internships, and in-person networking.