Dr. Katie Wullert: 'Get a leg up by capitalizing on disconnects between what other employers are offering'
This article has been provided by Veris Insights.
Everyone knows that money talks and, therefore, that pay consistently ranks as the top factor students consider when evaluating employers for internships or full-time offers. There has also been a lot of buzz about the fact that kombucha on tap and unlimited snacks may no longer seal the deal for incoming interns. But, what are students really looking for beyond a dollar amount when it comes to offer packages?
In a survey of nearly 2,000 undergraduates, we sought to unpack this precise question. Three key themes emerged: not all benefits are equal, student expectations vary by demographics, and transparency matters.
Not All Benefits Are Equal
Employers offer a wide range of benefits to full-time employees and interns, but not all benefits carry the same weight for students. Crafting a compelling benefits package requires not only benchmarking to what other firms are doing, but also an understanding of what students actually value.
We found that while some common benefits matter a lot, others are not as impactful.
Read more: Fidelity VP: Offer these financial wellness benefits in 2023
Professional development benefits, flextime, and housing/relocation assistance are common internship benefits that students value a lot. For full-time offers, students frequently receive paid time off (PTO), healthcare, and retirement support and find these incredibly important.
More interesting, though, are the benefits employers provide that students don’t value as highly and in contrast, those that aren’t often provided but that students prioritize greatly. For example, many students report receiving in-office amenities but don’t rate these highly. Other benefits, like PTO for interns, are provided less frequently but are very appealing to students.
Understanding how students' preferences intersect with the frequency at which certain benefits are offered can arm employers with the information they need to craft a compelling offer package and stand out in a sea of competitors.
Student Expectations Vary by Demographics
Some benefits for full-time employees are universally expected – PTO and healthcare, for example. Not all benefits, however, are equally valued by all groups of students. For example, tuition / student debt assistance and relocation / travel are ranked as more important by Black/African American and Hispanic/Latinx students than by their White counterparts. While only 34% of White students say student debt assistance is a very or extremely important benefit for deciding on an offer, around half of Black/African American and Hispanic/Latinx students list this benefit as very or extremely important.
By ignoring the more granular data, employers fail to capture the specific priorities of historically marginalized students and miss opportunities to advance DEI within their organizations.
Clearly students have many preferences about what they hope to see in a competitive internship or full-time offer, but perhaps even more importantly, they want transparency from potential employers. In particular, students want to know what their salary could be sooner rather than later.
While 48% of interns and 60% of full-time applicants do not find out about compensation until the offer phase, more than 50% want to know about compensation before they even apply. Posting compensation ranges in a job ad makes employers more appealing for 77% of students.
Read more: Open enrollment prep: What benefits to consider for your employees
Beyond appeal, the decision to post salary ranges also helps to align expectations. It can waste everyone’s time to go through a full recruiting process only to discover there was never salary alignment between the candidate and the employer. Transparency showcases openness and honesty, and it can save your team time by ensuring applicants come into your process with a shared understanding of the potential outcome.
Crafting an effective offer package is not a small feat as there are many variables to consider. You can get a leg up by capitalizing on disconnects between what other employers are offering and what students really want, taking demographic differences into account, and prioritizing transparency throughout the recruitment process.
Dr. Katie Wullert is a Project Manager on Veris Insights' University Recruiting Research Team. She holds her PhD from Stanford University, and prior to joining Veris Insights, she conducted research on gender, the labor market, and social psychology.