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What’s Different About Hiring Recent Graduates?

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Mike Hanski – a freelance content writer. His opinions are his own.

Hiring college graduates for your workforce is a smart business move in today’s competitive climate. Millennials (and post-millennials) can bring diverse skill-sets to your team to potentially expand your company’s reach and its bottom line, more than ever before.

CareerBuilder reports that 74% of employers say they plan to hire recent college graduates this year, up from 67% last year – the highest outlook since 2007.

The benefits of bringing graduates on board

With high hopes and high debt, recent college grads are typically very motivated, driven and poised to do well and advance within your company. Translated? You get eager beavers with an array of skills; they get valuable work experience and the opportunity and resource to often pay off massive student loans and credit card debt.

The average new graduate will carry about $37,000 in debt, according to the research site, Cappex. It’s a marriage made in heaven.

And there’s a bonus here for employers: the salary expectations of these workers are generally lower than seasoned employees who have more experience under their belt.

How today’s college graduates differ from their predecessors

  • Greater, rising debt
  • More opportunity – Unemployment rate has improved, (below 6%) compared to former years
  • Wages are increasing – more pay
  • More social media engagement and networking channels
  • An array of work/cafeteria-oriented benefit options
  • A reported lack of “soft skills”

How soft skills impact a graduate’s work performance

Of all the different dynamics associated with recent graduates (wages, opportunity, ability, etc.) that can affect hiring and performance, the one with perhaps the greatest impact to businesses today is the category of “soft skills.”

According to research conducted by Adecco Staffing USA, “Companies are having a tough time finding good recruits. One of the main reasons: many candidates lack basic soft skills like problem-solving and critical thinking.”

Furthermore, A Talent Shortage Survey conducted through ManpowerGroup reveals that “nearly 1 in 5 employers worldwide can’t fill positions because they can’t find people with soft skills. Specifically, companies say candidates are lacking in motivation and interpersonal skills”.

Soft Skills are simply personal qualities or traits that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with others, and also the ability to find viable solutions for problems.

They comprise:

  • Communication skills – the ability to write well and to express ideas clearly – whether in the form of a formal presentation, talking to clients, or successfully sharing suggestions at a staff meeting.
  • Adaptability – being able to deal with changes in work responsibilities, scheduling, or even the direction of a project. It means being flexible and able to respond positively to “plan B” as required.
  • Teamwork and collaboration – the ability to compromise, respect the opinions of others, and deal with different temperaments and perspectives for the greater good.
  • Problem solving / critical thinking – being able to prevent bad situations from getting progressively worse, or saving the company time and money by determining the best course of action when a crisis arises, without hand holding or specific directives.
  • Conflict resolution – handling disputes and differences in a civil, professional way.

On the other hand hard skills are typically teachable traits, many of which can be acquired through schooling or training. Think of things like accounting, programming, and statistics. Conversely, soft skills have to do with emotional control, proper judgment, and basically being good with people.

How to assess soft skills in the graduate recruitment process

Though soft skills can be difficult to judge on an application or during an interview, being able to assess them (or the lack thereof) is crucial for employee retention and to operate profitably and successfully.

Here are some suggestions to help identify desired traits and choose the best candidate for your hiring needs:

  • Include a written exam, proofreading test or essay assignment as part of the application process. Some tests can even be administered online prior to extending a formal offer. ESkill.com offers a variety of customizable tests and tools to help companies make more informed hiring decisions.
  • Request that final candidates provide two letters of references as part of the final selection process. Examine the traits and qualities used to describe the final applicant. Are they said to be “good with people?” Diligent? Easy to get along with? Mature? Responsible? As having a good work ethic? These are things to look for.
  • For optimal results, make sure to match the skills needed with the right applicant and open position. In other words, if you’re seeking someone good with numbers, a talented web content writer, or tech person, soft skills would not be as relevant as someone perhaps being sought for a managerial, sales, customer success or human resources position.

What are graduates looking for in terms of perks?

Not only should today’s savvy employer seek out the best talent possible for a strong, skilled, well-rounded workforce; they should also strive to be a company that qualified college grads desire to work for.

These young adults seek similar perks and incentives as former generations and other staff members: a paycheck, lunch, the occasional pat on the back, clear, fair performance expectations, etc.

But, here are a few other requirements and bonuses you can likely expect them to negotiate for or prefer:

  • Flexibility in work arrangements – The advent of the Internet allows for many workers to carry out their work-related duties from home or from other off-site locations. Independence and work autonomy are becoming increasingly popular, in the way of employee benefits.
  • Casual work days – Typically designated weekly on Fridays (or minimally once a month), Casual Work Days allow employees to report to work in less formal, more comfortable, fun attire. In a 2015 Employees Benefit survey conducted by the Society of Human Resources Management, “62 percent of organizations allowed casual dress once a week.”
  • Greater work-life balance – Over 50% percent of millennials ranked the quality of the work environment they would be a part of over the financial gains being received, in a study established by Fidelity Investments.

Knowledge is power. Give your business a competitive edge and continued growth by practicing due diligence and making smart choices when dealing with today’s graduates.

Mike Hanski

Mike Hanski is a freelance content writer who writes for various online publications and creates content that really resonates with readers everywhere.

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