Greg majored in electrical engineering in college. After he graduated last year, one of the biggest surprises when he moved into his own apartment was how it felt both liberating and lonely at the same time. Like many of his peers, Greg’s life after college wasn’t quite what he had expected.
In today’s post — the first in a series about how people use Facebook during transitions to new life stages — we wanted to explore how recent college graduates adjust to the challenges and rewards of early adulthood and how marketers can help meet their needs.
Drawing from our internal data,1 interviews conducted with people who use Facebook, and in-depth research with a small number of participants by the research agency Firefly Millward Brown,2 we found that life after college in the US is a time when graduates are focused on how to land the right job and make their way in the world.
The first priority
For many recent grads, life after graduation can feel as though it’s been turned upside down. They had the cocoon of campus life, their friends and maybe a meal card or an allowance from mom and dad. Then suddenly it’s over and they are thrust into the real world.
The first priority for the majority of these graduates is to land a job and begin their careers. Last year college grads talked about interviews on Facebook 83% more than the year before, employers 72% more and jobs 54% more.
Yet it’s not always easy for grads today to land the job of their dreams. According to a recent survey by Accenture, 4 out of 10 recent grads earn $25,000 or less, and 46% consider themselves either underemployed or work in a job that doesn’t require a college degree.3
While the majority of college grads we spoke with had found a job after graduation, many considered their positions temporary because they were not in their field of study or didn’t pay as much as they had hoped.
Melanie is one example. Unable to find a teaching job near her home in Pennsylvania, she has been working as a bartender since earning her degree in education in 2012.
“It’s not really what I want to do,” she said of her current role.
Kara is in a similar situation. Six months after earning her bachelor’s in 2013, the communications major was offered a full-time job, but turned it down because the pay was too low. She’s now living at home with her parents in Connecticut and working as a waitress at a local restaurant and country club.
“Being financially independent is my biggest worry,” she said.
And Kara’s not alone. She and other recent grads are part of the Boomerang Generation, young adults in their 20s and 30s who have moved back home to live with their folks because of the rough economy of recent years. Many are saddled with student loan debt. According to Accenture, 38% of the class of 2014 planned to move back in with their parents this year.
Recent college graduates are among the most engaged people on Facebook. They send 1.3x more messages and create 1.6x more posts than the average person. Their median age is 22, 51% of them are female, 49% are male and 13% are Hispanic.
Recent college graduates are increasingly on-the-go. They made 2.5x more actions on mobile on Facebook last year after graduation compared to the year before.
Female college graduates are more likely to use Facebook to stay updated on products related to financial services, fashion, beauty, health care and retail after graduation. Recent male graduates use Facebook to keep up on financial services, console games, sports, electronics and cars.
Since finding the right job is a necessity for recent graduates, marketers can help them by promoting websites, clubs, associations and subscriptions for young professionals, along with technology that makes their lives more productive and efficient, such as productivity apps.
As they enter the workforce, both male and female graduates are in need of a new, affordable professional attire. This is also a group that is highly mobile so there is need for on-the-go food products, as well as healthy and affordable foods they can prepare at home and bring to work to save money.
Marketers can also be a partner by working with recent grads to consolidate their debt and come up with a near-term plan for paying off student loans.
With Facebook, marketers can reach more than 1.4 million recent graduates in the US and target them even more specifically to help meet their needs. By providing grads with the tools necessary to collaborate or be entrepreneurial, marketers can help inspire and empower recent grads as they step off of campus into their new lives.