What Do Graduates Really Want When They Renege?

Posted by Sasha

GradConnection Blog

What Do Graduates Really Want When They Renege?

What’s with all the reneging, grads? With so many employers and opportunities to choose from, today’s graduates are gaining a reputation for their willingness to renege on job offers at the sight of something better. So, what exactly is better? What can employers do to grab onto an audience that doesn’t seem to stay still?

We’re in a candidate’s market

Whether you want to believe it or not, we’re in a candidate’s market. Each year we’re seeing more competition for the same number of students. In 2018, we saw an increase of 23% more employers advertising opportunities on GradConnection than in the previous year.

Student completion rates, on the other hand, remain the same. Domestic student completions only increased by 0.76% between 2016 and 2017 (2018 data not available yet). With more competition, how can you position your program as the top choice?

What makes them say yes

According to the AAGE candidate surveys, there are consistently big-ticket items that graduates seek from employers:

  • Career progression
    • Graduates want to know where they can go with you.
  • Training and development
    • Lifelong learners, for the younger grad talent they’re seeking employers who invest in ongoing training and development for long-term growth.
  • Impactful projects
    • Being the dedicated coffee gopher for their first year simply won’t cut it. Grads crave opportunities to make a real impact in their community and workplace.

What makes them say yeah, nah

In this year’s graduate cohort, around one in six (16%) candidates reneged on a job offer they had previously accepted (source: 2019 AAGE Candidate Survey). The actual rate of intent is even higher.

When we recently surveyed our graduate members for their thoughts on reneging, 35% admitted they would accept an offer and keep looking for opportunities. Of these respondents, 55.9% would change their mind for a better learning and development program. The second highest reason to renege was better salary (25%).

What you can do about reneging

Not everyone has a bottomless pot of gold they can draw funds from and throw into salaries and exceptional experiences. But most candidates who’d consider reneging are interested in opportunities that help them develop. That doesn’t necessarily mean more money – it could simply mean a review of your current program offering, introducing mentoring or coaching where it isn’t already offered, changing the quality/type of the topics presented.

It could even be something as simple as being better at promoting your learning and development initiatives and commitment to employee growth during attraction and recruitment.

Some ideas might be:

  1. Highlight key features of your learning and development program in your job ads so grads know what they’re getting. Consider outlining a structured career path or show them how they could transfer across departments and projects for ongoing development.
  2. Communicate your employee value proposition (specifically, your commitment to employee growth) consistently in all interactions throughout attraction, shortlisting, and onboarding, and in the everyday on social.
  3. Keep graduates warm post acceptance – it’s harder for them to walk away once they already feel like part of your family!

How do you grab onto an audience that won’t stay still?

The younger generations have grown up online with instant access to information, products and services as and when they need, relying heavily on peer reviews and word of mouth to help them make validated decisions. They simply won’t wait around for something or someone when they can easily find better, sooner.

When you’re talking to students and your candidates, try being more proactive about giving them what they want. If you know learning and development and growth is what they want – then lead with that. Lead with culture. Lead with opportunities.

Do your graduate job ads need a spruce up?

For a free strategy session or for help with an upcoming recruitment campaign, get in touch with us at [email protected].


Enter an employer or university you want to find in our search bar.