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2022 grads are set to outearn last year’s cohort—and the year before that

April 26, 2022, 5:30 PM UTC

When the class of 2022 graduates this year, they will be earning more than a diploma—they could stand to make more money in their first job than last year’s cohort, and the one before that, and the one before that. 

For its latest “State of the Graduate” report, job site Monster surveyed 1,500 U.S. adults ages 18 to 24, and 1,000 hiring managers, to learn who really has the upper hand in the white-hot job market. It looks like good news for anyone with a freshly printed degree.

This graduation season, companies will hire 26.6% more college graduates from the class of 2022 than they hired from the class of 2021, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) reported, according to Monster. 

Back in 2020, when hiring slowed significantly owing to the pandemic, over half of new grads said they would accept a lower salary than they believed they deserved—if they got desperate enough. And many did struggle to find work as the NACE found just 50% of class of 2020 grads were able to find jobs in the first six months after graduation.

Times have changed: More than four in five (81%) recent or soon-to-be college grads are confident they’ll get a job offer that matches their career goals. And the pay will be better, too, with almost three-quarters (72%) of employers reporting raising their entry-level salaries in the past 12 months. But young job-seekers may need a confidence boost as over half of them (58%) still believe employers have the upper hand in the entry-level job market. 

Employers disagree: 57% of hiring managers said it’s the candidates who have the power, adding that it now takes an average of four weeks to fill an entry-level role—that’s a 57% increase from 2019. 

Monster releases this report around graduation each year, and the past two years painted a pretty bleak picture, Monster career expert Vicki Salemi tells Fortune. “This year’s report is decidedly positive: College grads are now able to be more selective than ever, because they know employers are desperate.”

New grads shouldn’t underestimate the sway they have, or just how much norms are changing, Salemi, a former corporate recruiter, says. “If I were to look at a candidate’s résumé today, I wouldn’t think twice about something like job-hopping.” And employers tend to agree with this viewpoint, with 50% saying they no longer consider job-hopping to be a red flag that should be held against candidates.

Another changing norm: When a grad is looking for advice, they’re less likely to turn to their campus career center, or to an expert like Salemi. Instead, they’re turning to social media; 46% of grads said they’d consulted YouTube or TikTok for answers to job-search–related questions. 

In Monster’s survey, recent and soon-to-be graduates ranked a new job’s flexible work opportunities as higher priority than health care benefits. While flexibility and work/life balance are top of mind—38% of Gen Zers said they’d “never” consider a job that doesn’t include a hybrid work model.

But new grads aren’t just about working from home. One in three grads said career development programs are a must, as are diverse workforces and clear environmental policies.

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