At a glance:
Judging from their Handshake search history, 2023 graduates are even more likely than their predecessors to be interested in jobs that require tech skills. But big tech companies haven’t seen a corresponding bump in search traffic. Searches for major tech brands by the class of 2023 were down almost 15% compared to the class of 2022. Instead, the class of 2023 is more likely to search for top companies in industries like retail, finance, and manufacturing—and applications to these companies are up, too.
The class of 2023 has adjusted their priorities in response to layoffs and economic uncertainty. They’re less focused on landing jobs with big-name, fast-growing companies, and they’re open to jobs in a wider range of industries and locations. Above all, they want a stable job that pays well, and they’re willing to flex other requirements—from company brand and growth rate to remote work options—to get it.
Over the past year, the class of 2023 has deprioritized company brand and growth rate as factors in their job search. With layoffs and inflation top of mind, they’re focused on practical bottom-line benefits—like stability and starting salary.
are applying to more jobs in response to news about the economy
are opening their job search to more industries, companies, and roles
are willing to move to a different city for the right job opportunity
More than 70% of 2023 graduates believe the skills they have now are enough to secure the job they want. And members of this class are especially strong on tech skills, regardless of their major. In fact, more than 80% of non-tech majors graduating this year have experience with at least one tech skill, such as data analysis or information technology.
But the class of 2023 also knows they’ll have to keep learning to stay relevant. About 3/4 of 2023 graduates, including non-tech majors, plan to develop new tech skills in the next few years.
3 out of 4 members of the class of 2023 are interested in developing new tech skills—such as data analysis, product management, and information technology—in the next few years.
85% of 2023 graduates—including 82% of those majoring in non-tech fields—have experience with one or more tech skills. And 73% of non-tech majors plan to develop at least one of these skills in the next few years.
In the months since ChatGPT and DALL-E burst onto the scene, many experts have predicted that generative AI will fundamentally change the future of work. According to one estimate, generative AI tools could affect how 2/3 of current jobs are performed, and could eventually raise global GDP by as much as 7%.
Despite these sweeping predictions, the class of 2023 is split on how new AI tools will affect them personally. Of those who are familiar with generative AI, about 60% say they expect it to make an impact on their field, and a little less than half are worried about how it will affect their careers. Their sentiments range from optimism that generative AI tools will make their work easier and more productive, to fear that these tools could render their skills obsolete.
“Things like [generative AI] have been in our life for a while, there's no point in being worried about them now. We have to learn how to adapt to them. Humans will always need to oversee computers doing work. Embrace it rather than run away!” Business, Entrepreneurship, & Human Resources student
“As a biologist, the study of and the presentation of new information is core to my job. AI tools can't do that. If anything they could help make the presentation of data easier, but they can't discover it themselves.”Life Sciences student
“AI art is actively pushing artists out of the space and it could become a major issue in a few years.”Computer Science, Information Systems & Technology student
Fully remote work is on the decline. Remote job listings on Handshake dropped 32% between 2022 and 2023, and so far less than 5% of full-time jobs created on the platform in 2023 have been fully remote.
The class of 2023 might welcome this trend—as long as they’re not expected to be in the office full time, either. This class appreciates the flexibility of remote work, but after having their college experience disrupted by remote learning during COVID-19, they’re also craving in-person connection. More than 70% want hybrid jobs, and a majority believe at least some in-person work will benefit their careers.
“For my first job, I would like to have at least some in-person exposure so I can make connections, ask questions, and learn about the industry.” Life Sciences student
“While I really enjoy having day to day in-person interactions with my coworkers and others around my workplace, saving on commute time and the morning rush would be very nice.”Computer Science, Information Systems & Technology student
“I think relationships do more than anything else to advance your career. If you’re working fully remote, it would be harder to grow in your field.”Humanities & Languages student
Almost exactly half of the class of 2023 would prefer a fully-remote job, while the other half would prefer to go all-in on working in person. This split varies by demographic, though. A majority of students of color, including almost two thirds of Black students, would prefer to work fully remotely.
This year’s graduates know they’ll need to navigate intense disruption, both in the economy as a whole and in where and how work is done. They’ve shown they’re ready for what’s ahead.
The class of 2023 is taking a flexible, sensible approach to their job search, applying to a wider range of opportunities as they shift focus away from big-name, fast-growing companies. They’re putting trust in the skills they have now, but they’re prepared to keep learning as technology evolves. And they’re clear-eyed about both the benefits and drawbacks of remote work.
The future is uncertain. But there’s no doubt the class of 2023 will meet it—and shape it. We can’t wait to see what they accomplish.
To determine keyword search trends on Handshake, search terms were aggregated across users from the classes of 2022 and 2023 in their respective senior years (from August to March). Terms searched less than 1,000 times at either time point were not included in this analysis. The “major tech brands” data point was determined by aggregating searches of recognizable tech brands and calculating their change from 2022 to 2023.
Application trends were based on full-time job applications created by Handshake users. For analysis across classes, applications were compared across users from the classes of 2021, 2022, and 2023 in their respective senior years (from August to March). Applications per job was calculated based on applications created divided by the total number of jobs applied to. The industry trend data point was based on the percent growth in total applications by employer industries from the class of 2022 to the class of 2023, while the location data point was based on the percent growth in total applications by job location from the class of 2022 to the class of 2023.
Between March 3–17, 2023, Handshake randomly sampled students across the Handshake network attending four-year higher education institutions. After cleaning, 954 class of 2023 users completed the survey. Where applicable, the data was combined with identical questions from surveys at two previous timepoints: 422 class of 2023 students surveyed in fall 2022 (August 30–September 18, 2022) and 691 class of 2023 students surveyed in summer 2022 (June 13–July 6, 2022).