Companies Fail with First Job College Graduates

By Scot Herrick | Job Performance

Jun 24

The first job out of college is important — and companies are blowing it by not addressing the needs of new workers.

In a survey from Taleo Corporation, the numbers are bloody:

  • 43% of adults who got a job after graduating college stayed in this job less than two years.
  • 41% of those who are no longer with their first employer out of college spent less than two years with their first employer.(2)
  • When describing how their first job made them feel, 13% said they couldn’t wait for Friday to arrive, 10% wanted to quit every day and 8% felt it was a waste of their time.
  • 19% of 18-34 year olds wanted to quit their first job every day, compared to 3% of those 55 years old and over

Employee engagement, anyone?

The largest reason given for the company performance was that “61% of those who are no longer with their first employer said their first employer did not provide a clear path for career advancement within the organization.”

I would suggest career advancement was not the reason people left their first job. Having a significant percentage of employees wanting to quit their first job every day of the week translates into engagement issues. It is not logical that a person wanting to quit every day in their first job would feel that way because they don’t know their career advancement path.

Every employee needs to know they are succeeding through measures, are doing relevant work for the company and known in their team. After achieving these three traits from their company, one would then worry about career advancement, not before.

Regardless, college graduates — as they should — vote with their feet when confronted with jobs that are not fulfilling and where they can’t see their future.

  • Very interesting, Scot, and troubling.

    Like you, I am skeptical of the quote “61% of those who are no longer with their first employer said their first employer did not provide a clear path for career advancement within the organization.”

    I wonder if it was a lack of any meaningful communication and social bonding based on actual work. I’ve seen some young newbies hired, and then neglected. Given no real work to do, they are left to wither on the vine in their cubicles. It’s a failure of management, in my view.

    I have a dual stake in this:

    On the personal side, my sons are both rising through college and will soon make the transition to the World of Work.

    On the professional side (I work at the American Management Association in NY), I am also interested in this transition. We are planning a webcast on this topic for late August. Interested in brainstorming?


    • Scot Herrick says:

      @Terrence Seamon
      Most likely, there is both an employee and management issue. A person just entering the workforce from college “doesn’t know what they don’t know.” It could be you had one offer out of college and you took it. Or, you had several offers and took the one that looked right on the outside without asking questions about the culture of the company. The pace of the work world is entirely different than the world of college and we provide little preparation for that change.

      The management, I agree, has assumptions that a person coming out of college knows how work actually works when that is not the case. Throw in some poor management style on top of all this and it is not surprising that there is a great deal of disillusionment for college graduates entering the workforce.

  • Erika says:

    I can’t help but wonder when I see these numbers whether all those companies really did fail to offer paths for career advancement. It just seems to me that often young people lack the maturity to see the forest through the trees, so to speak. They say they don’t mind starting at the bottom but then chafe when tasked with the grunt work.

    • Scot Herrick says:

      I agree. I think it is more of an issue with engagement rather than career advancement. Career advancement, as described in the survey, just doesn’t make much sense.

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