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Attracting Generation Y graduates: Organisational attributes, likelihood to apply and sex differences

Siri Terjesen (Brisbane Graduate School of Business, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia)
Susan Vinnicombe (Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield University, UK)
Cheryl Freeman (Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield University, UK)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 2 October 2007

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Abstract

Purpose

Building on person‐organisation fit and gender self‐schema, this research aims to examine UK university final year students' perception of the importance of organisational attributes and their presence in three major graduate employers. This study also seeks to explore which organisational attributes attract Generation Y men and women to apply to a management trainee position.

Design/methodology/approach

In phase one, 32 repertory grid interviews identify 84 common constructs in undergraduates' organisational choice. A short list of 20 organisational attributes was carried forward to the phase two survey of 862 undergraduates in their final year at 22 UK universities. The respondents rate the attributes in terms of importance and then evaluate three employers in terms of perceived presence of these attributes. The students also provide the likelihood that they would apply. T‐tests, correlation and multiple regression are used to test hypotheses.

Findings

Among university students, the five most important organisational attributes are: “invest heavily in the training and development of their employees” “care about their employees as individuals” “clear opportunities for long‐term career progression” “variety in daily work” and “dynamic, forward‐looking approach to their business”. Sex differences exist in both the importance of organisational attributes and the perceived extent of their presence in three organisations. In describing an ideal employer, women rate eight attributes as more important than do their male counterparts: “really care about their employees as individuals” “variety in your daily work” “friendly, informal culture” “employ people with whom you feel you will have things in common” “use your degree skills” “relatively stress‐free working environment” “internationally diverse mix of colleagues” “require you to work standard working hours only”. Compared to women, men rate just one attribute as more important: “a very high starting salary”. The perception of presence of these important attributes is significantly linked to likelihood to apply.

Practical implications

Recruiting firms can better understand how Generation Y men and women graduates perceive the importance of organisational attributes and their presence in firms.

Originality/value

The paper represents a seminal study relating organisational attributes to likely applicant behaviour across a large number of UK university undergraduates.

Keywords

Citation

Terjesen, S., Vinnicombe, S. and Freeman, C. (2007), "Attracting Generation Y graduates: Organisational attributes, likelihood to apply and sex differences", Career Development International, Vol. 12 No. 6, pp. 504-522. https://doi.org/10.1108/13620430710821994

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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