In today’s highly competitive job market, companies want to find and retain the best talent possible. Companies are reticent to take chances on new, less experienced talent for many reasons. According to a 2016 PayScale survey, 60 percent of companies did not believe recent college grads were prepared to enter the workforce. But, this year, 74 percent of employers said they would hire recent college grads.
It’s still hard for college grads to find new jobs, especially employment in their field of study. But, companies can find a promising return on investment (ROI) by hiring and leveraging the talent of recent college graduates.
Problems with college grads?
In the most recent CareerBuilder Survey, employers were asked what they were expecting from hiring recent college graduates. They reported that they were concerned that new college grads were not ready for the workforce. 17 percent of employers feel that academia does not prepare students for roles in their organizations (a 24 percent decrease from last year). Businesses expressed concerns in numerous areas:
- 44 percent said there was excess emphasis on book knowledge and not enough real-world experience
- 38 percent said they need workers with a mixture of technical and liberal arts skills (i.e. analysis, creativity, soft skills)
- 23 percent think entry-level roles within their organizations are more complex
- 17 percent believe technology is changing too rapidly for academia to properly inform students
- 17 percent want college/universities to focus more on internships
Clearly, there are concerns about the competency of incoming talent into the workforce. Many job interviewees may be told they need experience, but hiring new talent is essential for building your business.
There are ways businesses can leverage newly college talent for short-term success. Beneficial attributes of new college grads includes:
Lower salary costs. Many Millennials are willing to work for significantly less salaries than experienced hires. They understand they need more practice and want to get their foot in the door. In fact, 64 percent of Millennials would prefer to make $40,000 per year at a job they love than $100,000 per year at a job that bores them. Businesses should take the opportunity to invest in human capital that can save money and offer new hires the ability to learn on the job. They key is to offer growth, a good life/work balance, and a supportive work culture to sustain worker loyalty while you invest in their talents.
Offer learning opportunities. With a recent history of learning, grads are self-motivated “continuous learners” with major competencies. The Harvard Business Review reports that 71 percent of Millennials (including new grads) are either not engaged or actively disengaged at work. Among their priorities in gaining a job, Millennials wish to advance their skill sets. Successful businesses can stimulate college hires by providing training and continued learning options.
Engage workers with technology and social media projects. New grads are highly experienced with technology, social media, and the internet, learning new technologies rapidly. Combined with their knowledge of the latest software, they offer high-value for current and future social media needs. Millennial college graduates are more likely to be skilled in emerging social media apps and mobile applications. Companies can leverage their abilities for marketing and operational purposes by appealing to wide-ranging demographics and offering product compatibility. Often, they can provide more efficiency than older employees because they’ve grown up with the technology. They also understand metrics like numbers and statistics.
Provide diverse, inclusive work culture. College hires are part of the most diverse generation in history. As a result, they can be socially conscious communicators. They know how to communicate with teammates, vendors, regulators, and customers in many diverse and economical non-face-to-face ways. Businesses can leverage social networks and web tools that experienced hires might find unfamiliar. Leaders can help provide inclusive and supportive work culture so that Millennials feel a sense of purpose and teamwork. Mentors, continuous feedback, and team building can all help provide this atmosphere for new hires. It’s noteworthy that businesses with gender, ethnic, and racial diversity are at least 15 percent more likely to experience above-average financial returns.
High innovation. Mid-career hires may bring continuous improvement but lower levels of inflection-point innovation. Each year, the diversity levels of graduating classes increase. If college recruiting programs have effective diversity components, the diverse thinking of these college can nurture hires with highly creative thinking abilities and strong decision-making skills. Diverse individuals tend to hold more open-minded, creative perspectives. Business leaders can ask these diverse new college hires to offer creative direction to a project or brainstorm innovative ideas with data.
Opportunities for a tryout. Hiring experienced professionals can be a hit-or-miss proposition because you don’t get a chance to actually see them work. Offering college students internship opportunities allows businesses to preview their work by hiring them as interns. Businesses can start by offering simple work projects and slowly increase the responsibilities for interns to see how they learn and cope. A well-designed internship opportunity can greatly improve the number of hiring errors.
Many firms find that Millennial college grads offer benefits for not just hiring managers, but for the entire company. Here are some qualities Millennials have and ways businesses can leverage these long-term advantages:
Global perspectives. At American colleges, the curriculum in nearly every discipline these days focuses on global issues. Global perspectives allow businesses to keep up with competing markets and product trends. Businesses can leverage these perspectives by allowing new college hires to travel and feel comfortable working with internationally located individuals. In the workplace, businesses can create more cooperative work environments by allowing new hires with global perspectives to help develop:
Training programs. Training Millennials to lead and grow can help make everyone feel included and also train managers in cultural competence, generation diversity and unconscious biases.
Employee resource groups. Businesses can include Millennial mindsets when it comes to employee-led groups that offer resources for members and organizations to foster inclusive workplace aligned with the company’s mission, values, goals and business practices.
Future management positions. Often, businesses try to hire managers internally because they’re familiar with the team and corporate culture. Consistently hiring entry-level college hires allows business leaders to promote the most qualified into supervisory or management positions within five years. Otherwise, these positions can be difficult to fill without a college hire strata of employees.
Long-term assets. Hiring college grads allows businesses to invest in their young employees' knowledge and well-being. Career development allows them to be an asset to firms for up to 40 years or more. Mid-career hires can’t return the value for the same number of years. If this firm treats them well, they may remain throughout their entire career. However, if you only hire experienced workers, you may have missed your chance to revitalize and monopolize upon future workplace potential.
Youth market benefits. Business firm tend to target many of products and services toward young adult demographics. Boasting a large portion of your staff can result in better products and increase sales to one of the largest population. New college grads are emerged in or generally aware of youth culture. Leverage this knowledge base to better market your products and services to one of the largest purchasing demographics in the United States.
It’s the perfect time for businesses to hire new college graduates and leverage their abilities. Weak employer brands and poorly designed recruiting programs have resulted in lower number of college grad hires. As soon as businesses take hold of new, engaging talent, they can have a competitive advantage in their markets. After all, Millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025.