Based on a survey of 300 local graduates, many companies could be facing higher compensation and training costs for junior positions.
The survey, which was conducted by Adecco in March, found that among those canvassed, 42 per cent were looking for pay packages between HK$11,000 and HK$13,000 per month. A further 34 per cent were hoping for a year-end bonus.
Asked about the factors driving salary expectations - which, on average, were 10 per cent higher than last year - Adecco marketing and communication manager Annie Yuen says it's essentially a matter of improved economic conditions.
"Fresh grads are very optimistic. They feel that there are a lot of vacancies out there. Employers these days are reaching out to them, so they have more choices relative to 2008-2009," she explains.
"During 2010, many were still focused on how to get an interview. But this year, a lot of them were asking me about how to reject an offer, even how to handle more than one offer."
For companies still squeamish about raising salaries, Yuen says that robust training and development programmes may be a suitable alternative.
"Based on my conversations with students, many seemed to be flexible on salary so long as employers provide them with good career development," she says. "Ultimately, fresh graduates are looking for a company to provide solid training, so as to help them create a foundation on which to develop a career."
Aside from training, many graduates also appear to be highly motivated by company size. According to the survey, 49 per cent of respondents said they wished to work for an organisation with at least 100 to 1,000 employees.
As to how smaller firms might attract young candidates, Yuen says that company culture and the personality of line managers could be important differentiators. "Nowadays, fresh graduates are quite mature. A lot of them have done internships," she explains. "As such, they understand that line managers are very important, because they have to report to them and work closely with them everyday."
In terms of promotions, Yuen contends that advancement is no longer as important as it once was. Most graduates, she says, now feel that they could just switch companies if their current employer doesn't provide them with opportunities to move up.
Yuen says that graduate expectations will likely continue to be closely tied to the strength of the economy, with finance and technology presumably likely to attract the bulk of candidates.