NACE Logo NACE Center Logo
National Association of Colleges and Employers NACE Center for Career Development and Talent Acquisition®
mobile menu
  • Salary Is Job Offer Tie Breaker for Class of 2021

    October 29, 2021 | By Kevin Gray

    Student Attitudes
    A group of students evaluate job offers and salaries.

    TAGS: compensation, salaries, trends and predictions, student attitudes, surveys, nace insights, students

    Spotlight for Career Services Professionals
    Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals

    Does salary matter to graduates from the college Class of 2021? No … and yes, according to results of NACE’s 2021 Student Survey.

    A high starting salary was cited as the eighth most important attribute of a job by graduating seniors—far behind the opportunity to develop specific skills and job security and even trailing other forms of compensation, such as insurance/benefits packages. (See Figure 1.)

    However, when it came to considering one job offer over another, more than 21% of responding seniors cited a high starting salary as the tie breaker, making it the most important factor that students take into account when making this decision. Job security trailed, with just 11% of respondents citing it as the key factor in deciding which job offer to accept.

    Data for the 2021 Student Survey Reporton were collected from February 17, 2021, through May 14, 2021. In all, 15,351 bachelor’s degree students responded from 165 NACE-member four-year colleges and universities. Of these, 2,339 were Class of 2021 graduating seniors. Participating members can access the 2021 Student Survey Report at MyNACE > Research Reports; nonparticipating members can access an executive summary at

    Figure 1: Percent of respondents indicating job attribute as either very or extremely important

    Job Attribute Percent Rating Attribute Very or Extremely Important
    Opportunity to develop skills specific to the job 87.0%
    Job security 86.4%
    Opportunity to develop applied skills (e.g., communication) 84.9%
    Friendly co-workers 84.3%
    Good insurance/benefits package 76.8%
    Organization helps me improve my community/country/world 75.2%
    Organization embraces diversity 71.8%
    High starting salary 70.2%
    Clear agenda of corporate social responsibility 68.4%
    Organization offers opportunity for self-expression & creativity 63.4%
    Source: 2021 Student Survey for Four-Year Schools, National Association of Colleges and Employers
  • NACE's Fall 2023 Competency Symposium