By Daniel Hunter

A large pay packet has risen to the top of the wish list for graduates looking for their first employer for the first time in five years, according to a survey of 2,205 students by Ernst & Young.

Rising tuition fees and concerns over job security have seen salary move from second to joint first place in Ernst & Young’s poll, with 22% of students ranking it as the most important consideration when choosing a future employer, along with training and development opportunities.

Training and development has remained in the top spot since the survey was first run in 2007. However, its appeal to the class of 2013 has almost halved compared to previous years. In 2011, training and development secured 41% of the vote, compared to just 22% this year.

Liz Bingham, People leader at Ernst & Young, comments: “The impact of tuition fees and the realities of student debt are clear from this poll. Graduates still recognise the importance of the longer term benefits that ultimately come from pursuing an employer that offers training and development opportunities. But they are now also increasingly looking for jobs that will enable them to clear the burden of debt from their shoulders as quickly as possible.”

According to the poll, work-life balance is also becoming an increasingly important consideration for students when choosing an employer moving to third place in the ranking, up from fifth place in 2011.

Bingham says: “We are increasingly seeing this in our own business, as recent graduates and Generation Y start to join the workforce. This generation have grown up with more collaborative and virtual ways of working and expect the same opportunities to be available at their place of work. Employers need to recognise this and adapt if they are going to win the war for talent.”

Other options to vote on in the poll were as follows: business reputation (16%), people & culture (16%) and ethical and environmental reputation (6%).

Bingham says that in a competitive jobs market, students can help to secure their dream job by building strong CVs with plenty of work experience. “We receive over 12,000 applications every year for over 1,000 graduate, undergraduate and school-leaver places and the candidates that stand out from the crowd are those that are able to demonstrate that they have commercial awareness.

“You don’t need to be the next Alan Sugar, but a part time job or skills developed through sports clubs and societies are a strong addition to any CV.”

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