Hay Group research: Graduates gunning for big salaries

Graduates entering the job market are more concerned than ever about winning a big salary, as economic uncertainty and rising living costs put pressure on them to earn more.

A new study by management consultancy Hay Group shows that salary is the number one concern for graduates, with 93% describing base pay as an important or very important factor in their career choice.

The next top three criteria selected by graduates are also financial, with benefits (51%), future earnings outlook (45%) and bonus potential (37%) all high on the agenda.

Furthermore, passion for the job is an important factor for just 16% of respondents, while the ability to make a difference (4%) was the least important consideration of all.

Christopher Smith, reward information consultant at Hay Group, said the economic climate is clearly influencing graduate’ career decisions.

“Acutely aware of the difficult labour market and rising living costs, they are looking for a career path that makes financial sense first and foremost. Idealist factors barely come into it,” he said.

But once in the job market, grads might find things are better than they think.

Graduates going into HR, for example, envisaged a starting salary of under £19,700, but could actually earn an average of almost £26,300 – a difference of around £6,500.

“Confronted by an uncertain outlook, graduates have lowered their remuneration expectations well below what they can expect to earn in the main functions of the UK’s largest graduate employers,” added Smith.

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