Ask any hiring manager about the practice of hiring recent college graduates and you’re likely to get a strong opinion -- be it a glowing recommendation, or a cautionary tale. It’s true that young people are perceived a certain way in the world, and job recruitment is no different. But the truth is that recent college graduates represent a highly skilled potential workforce that cannot (and should not) be ignored. Many are trained in the latest technologies and processes that can contribute to a company’s success (and often at a fraction of the cost of more experienced workers that demand higher salaries). But just like any other topic in hiring, it’s important to find the RIGHT candidate.
Attracting the Right Ones
Finding the right candidates starts with the right job description. Recent graduates often won’t have every box checked when it comes to skills and abilities. So to attract the well rounded applicant you’re looking for, consider advertising for skills sets that include a mix of both hard and soft skills. Also, remember that your online application is a reflection of your company and the position itself. If a resume isn’t necessary or appropriate for the entry level position you’re hiring for, skip it! Ask only those questions that you need to make an informed decision. Advertising your position in the right place also matters. Many young job seekers have never read the classified section of a newspaper, so to reach this demographic online advertising is key. Sites like simplyhired.com aggregate online job listings and get your posting in front of those who are actively looking for a new opportunity.
Who to Interview
Once you start receiving applicants, pre-screening for the most qualified is the next step. Resist the urge to be too selective if you can. Remember that when considering recent college graduates you’re likely dealing with applicants with limited experience, who probably won’t meet 100% of your requirements. Identify early on which attributes you can live without, and focus instead on applicants that meet your core requirements. But don’t be afraid to reject those that don’t meet your needs. There are plenty of recent grads looking for jobs so you don’t have to settle for the first one that applies. Also remember that, while they may be young, recent college grads weren’t born yesterday. Most have 20+ years of life experience, and you can evaluate how they’ve handled it. These evaluations can be objective (GPA and test scores) or subjective (volunteer work and hobbies). Lastly, remember that just because someone isn’t a good fit now doesn’t mean you won’t want to revisit them once they have gained that necessary experience. Keep a searchable database that allows you to revisit candidates in 6 months or a year.
The InterviewNow that you’ve identified your top candidates, the interview process begins. Remember that for many recent college graduates, the job interview can be one of their first forays into the business world, so try to cut them some slack if they seem a little nervous. Of course you should ask questions related to their ability to do the job, but its best practice to mix in personal questions as well, because you want to make sure he or she will be a good fit for your company culture. Don’t be surprised if you get some less-than-polished responses; when you ask a question like “where do you want to be in 5 years” it’s possible this is the first time they’re actually considering it in a career context. The bottom line is you’re looking for responses that convey confidence in ones abilities, willingness to learn and grow, and show strength of character. A final note, recent college grads belong to a generation that grew up with on-demand information access and seek instant gratification – consider automating follow-up notifications and communicating with candidates via email and text messaging to notify them of their status in the hiring process.
While hiring recent college graduates may come with a slightly higher risk compared to more seasoned candidates, there is also the potential for even greater reward. To find the best new employees, adhering to best practices and sticking to a process can lead to a mutually beneficial relationship for both the young candidate and the employer.
For more information on finding the best candidates for your open positions, download our Online Recruiting Guide: 11 Steps to Attract More Applicants.