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New survey reveals: College students prioritize hybrid work and DE&I in job search

Today’s college students are graduating into a society that’s changed dramatically in the past few years. An overwhelming majority of students are worried about finding a job in the current economy, with about 45% expressing that they are “very concerned” and another 40% “somewhat concerned,” per CodeSignal’s recent survey.

Still, university recruiting remains a top pipeline for companies to find qualified and enthusiastic job candidates. In fall 2022, we reached out and surveyed over 1,000 US college students to learn about what they’re looking for in their job searches. Here’s what we uncovered.

Students value the flexibility of hybrid and remote work

Remote work appears to be here to stay, with the next generation of the workforce clearly preferring hybrid and fully remote options to completely in-person work. A plurality of students favor hybrid work (at least one day of remote work per week), with about 47% of survey respondents choosing that option. Fully remote work was the top choice for 30% of respondents, with the remaining 23% preferring fully in-person jobs. The numbers are similar when focusing on computer science majors, with just over 51% preferring hybrid work and 30% choosing fully remote.

Almost half of US college students prefer hybrid jobs that split time between remote work and in-person collaboration.

Students cited flexibility during the work day and reduced commuting obligations as the biggest draws for remote work. For respondents marking fully remote work as their top choice, 72% identified lower amounts of time and money spent commuting as a benefit. For 66% of this group, flexibility during working hours was of value. In contrast, for students who want to work hybrid, flexibility was the most popular at 70% whereas commuting came in second with 64%.

For students who want to work in person, work-life separation was the biggest appeal of the full in-office model, coming in at 71% of that cohort. Socializing with coworkers is also important to this group, and ranked second at 66%. Students choosing hybrid work don’t value these in-person benefits at quite the same frequency as they value the perks of remote work. Socializing was the third most popular reason for the group that picked hybrid work, at 53% of responses.

The survey responses reveal multiple ways for employers to make better workplaces for their employees. Most straightforward would be to offer hybrid and remote work as options to accommodate the many students who are seeking that out. Beyond that, companies that are cognizant of the specific reasons employees prefer particular work formats can improve their work cultures. For instance, companies may want to emphasize social opportunities on days when employees work from the office.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) initiatives affect career decisions

About 90% of respondents factor in a company’s commitment to DE&I when choosing where to work, and about 49% said an employer’s DE&I initiatives are “very important” in making that decision. Computer science majors were more likely to prioritize DEI than the overall college-going population. Breaking down the responses another way, women were over 20% more likely than men to mark a company’s DE&I efforts as “very important,” a statistically significant amount.

Further examining differences in responses between women and men, it stands out that women especially value flexibility in working arrangements. Among respondents who preferred hybrid work, women were more likely than men to cite flexibility as a reason. Hybrid and remote working options have the potential to introduce more equity into the workplace, making these options worthwhile considerations for employers that are focused on improving DE&I.

Women and men have different reasons for preferring hybrid work.

Overall, it’s not enough for companies to just pay lip service to DE&I; today’s college students are demanding active DE&I efforts. The tech industry in particular has historically lagged in its representation of various minority groups, a problem that students are keenly aware of. Companies that take the lead in addressing systemic DE&I issues stand to attract top talent to their teams.

CodeSignal helps companies hire equitably and at scale

Remote hiring and interviewing is just as much a reality of the modern job market as remote work is. CodeSignal offers a platform of products to support hiring technical candidates remotely. Between technical assessments and virtual interviews, companies using CodeSignal are well-equipped to hire from high-volume pipelines like university recruiting. CodeSignal’s research-backed recruiting solutions increase fairness in the interview process with objective skills evaluations designed to reduce bias. To learn more and start expanding your hiring efforts, request a call with a CodeSignal expert today.