Known as the “Zoomers,” “Gen Z,” and the “Class of COVID-19,” the members of the Class of 2022 have turned their tassels and are finally entering the workforce. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), employers plan to hire nearly 32% more college graduates in 2022 than in 2021. Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects the US’s current large number of job openings to continue through at least 2030 with the ongoing retirement of the Baby Boomer generation. With these factors coming together, the Class of 2022 has high expectations for their future employers, but matching their aspirations with the culture of the traditional workplace may be more difficult than anticipated.

According to recruiting technology provider iCIMS’ seventh annual report,[1] this year’s college graduates’ job-seeking characteristics differ greatly from previous generations, and even from older members of Generation Z. Having experienced more than half of their college education in a global pandemic, 2022 graduates have different skills, interests, and beliefs when it comes to their careers. HR and recruitment firms have identified several major categories employers should take into consideration when employing the Class of 2022:

  • Application Requirements: According to surveys, only 3% of employers rank cover letters as critical to landing a job. Soft skills, hard skills, and previous work or internship experience are taking over as the most relied-upon indicators of an applicant’s fit.
  • Social Media Presence: 70% of recent graduates reported looking at employers’ websites and social media platforms to evaluate whether the company would be a good match for them.
  • Workplace Culture: Graduates want their employers’ values to match with their own. Over two-thirds of the Class of 2022 expect employers to support employees’ mental health and host open, honest conversations. In addition, nearly half of graduates reported prioritizing personal passions rather than their career goals.
  • Flexibility: While recent graduates are willing to come into the office, over 70% report wanting their jobs to accommodate some level of remote work and to have flexibility when it comes to hours, dress code, and the options of a virtual reality environment.
  • Salary: While most employers expect to pay entry-level candidates approximately $53,000, recent grads expect a salary of more than $70,000 their first year out of college.
  • Stability: After an incredibly unprecedented few years, college graduates want stability with their post-grad employers. Despite the large number of job openings and ability to move around, nearly 70% of graduates report wanting to stay with an employer long-term.


As new generations enter the workforce, both applicants and employers will have to adapt toward new expectations, skills, and processes. If you want to update your employment practices, or have questions or concerns regarding your employment policies, please contact any member of Gardner Skelton’s employment team.