Top 15 Best Cities for Recent Grads

At 18, a student’s biggest decision is selecting a college where he or she can be most successful. Fast-forward four years (or five or six), and this individual’s next big choice is picking a location where he or she has the greatest chance at getting hired.

The cost-of-living, housing market, and overall safety of a city may very well influence a job seeker looking to move. For recent grads, however, jobs are the largest influencer in where an individual will settle. Relocating goes far past scrutinizing the weather — a city must offer recent grads a robust number of career opportunities for years to come.

For this reason, Glassdoor’s Top 15 Best Cities for Recent Grads has nothing to do with opinion and everything to do with where the jobs are.


The cities that offer the most entry-level job openings are:

  1. New York City
  2. San Francisco
  3. Chicago
  4. Houston
  5. Atlanta
  6. Los Angeles
  7. Dallas
  8. Boston
  9. Seattle
  10. Austin
  11. Denver
  12. Phoenix
  13. Washington, D.C.
  14. San Jose
  15. San Diego

Grads Go Where the Money Is

Recent grads are increasingly desperate for paychecks as soon as they receive diplomas. Millennials are struggling to prioritize finding a fulfilling career as well as bringing home significant income. While some grads are fortunate to balance these competing needs, many others must choose career success when faced with massive debt and growing expenses.

In our list of Top 15 Cities for Recent Grads, only nine out of the 50 United States were highlighted. California showcased the lowest average debt for college grads at $20,269; Illinois displayed the highest at $28,028. These statistics don’t even begin to compare to the nationwide average. In 2012, 71% of college seniors reported graduating with an average debt of $29, 400.[1]

With numbers like these, it is no surprise that graduating college and beginning a career can be daunting for recent grads. To survive, Millennials must follow the money. And, they follow the money to big cities with plenty of opportunity.

Job Explorer: A Recruiter’s Best Friend  

Job Explorer revolutionizes the job search for recruiters and all job seekers, including recent grads. The question of where jobs are located can now be answered in just seconds, which is particularly helpful when recruiters are looking to target a specific candidate or job market.

Additionally, Job Explorer identifies “millennial hubs,” or locations that offer promising opportunities for all “twentysomethings.” Recruiters can now target these locations and compare competitor job openings. Furthermore, Job Explorer can showcase locations where Millennials may or may not be willing to relocate.

Apartment Guide reinforces this post-grad moving trend. Last year, the organization reported that more than 70% of graduates were planning to move to a new city. Over 80% of grads reported that they would choose to move to a city where they found work versus a city where they preferred to live.[2] By comparing specific positions and locations simultaneously, recruiters can now increase their chances of offering attractive job packages, giving recent grads both the security and happiness they desire.

Recruiting for Partners 

Dr. Meg Jay is a clinical psychologist at the University of Virginia and author of “The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter — and How to Make the Most of Them Now. She recently reported that 7.5 million unmarried couples now live together, many recent grads. The majority of Millennials will live with a romantic partner at least once throughout their 20s.

Rising reports of cohabitation directly impact job searching and relocation, especially for recent grads in long-term relationships. Young adults are increasingly concerned about accepting a position without first consulting their significant other or family. As rent and the cost of living are skyrocketing in cities around the country, many grads are reluctant to relocate without having a partner to help with expenses. This is creating a new challenge for HR professionals — they must recruit a partnership, not just a grad.

Job Explorer was purposefully designed to allow both recruiters and candidates to search for two jobs simultaneously. If a Millennial is ready to accept a position but is worried about his or her significant other, recruiters can quickly search both job titles to view possible connections and opportunities. This function can prove useful for an entry-level position or even a promotion down the road.

Job Explorer allows recruiters to anticipate recent grads’ next moves before they happen. Given recent grads’ strong desire to lead, managers and recruiters must foresee long-term career goals. Job-hopping Millennials will, without a doubt, switch departments, positions, companies and careers several times. Job Explorer’s career progression tool enables recruiters to see what other jobs recent grads and their partners may have the skills for. Recruiters can utilize this tool to generate future positions or career paths where Millennials may excel.

Check It Out For Yourself

Familiarize yourself with the Top 15 Cities for Recent Grads and Job Explorer. Explore even more ways to recruit top talent.

For more information on Job Explorer, read Glassdoor’s Head Talent Warrior’s Will Staney’s blog post on how recruiters can best benefit from Job Explorer.

[1] Survey data is based on the Common Data Set (CDS) reported by U.S. colleges in 2012.

[2] Survey data is based on an Apartment Guide survey conducted online in March 2013 among 1,000 U.S. adults aged 21-24 years old.

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