In a month or so, a number of smart young adults will grab their diplomas and hit the proverbial pavement in search of employment. Has your company considered recruiting them? Admittedly, it's not a straightforward decision, and there are pros and cons to consider:
- On the downside, new grads are typically inexperienced in the working world--so it's hard to know how much responsibility they can handle right off the bat. They have a small track record to prove they are capable yet. And you can bank on the fact that they won't stick around long. This generation of workers is likely to change jobs every 18-24 months, in fact.
- On the upside, however, new grads with little experience are often less expensive to hire. They're also highly motivated to work--and they're already in a learn-quick mode, having been buckled down in school for the last 16 years. Remember, too, that this generation has not only grown up with the Internet, they've grown up with the social and mobile Internet since they can remember. This means that on-the-go networking, collaborating, and researching is in their nature, which in turn makes them a very productive group. And they're incredibly good at working in teams, because that's what they've been doing in college--probably more than any other recent graduating class.
For many businesses, the advantages will outweigh the risks, and they'll look to hire some of these young, hungry candidates. But be forewarned: You can't attract these folks with any old job listing. Recruiting new graduates will require some forward thinking on your part. You need to be aware of their expectations--and they have quite a few.
- First of all, they expect you to be financially sound. Most of them probably just watched their parents weather the recent recession, and that left an impression. If they come to work for you, they need to believe you're solid--and they'll want you to stay that way. Expect them to do their research on sites like Glassdoor and LinkedIn.
- They also expect your job to be a stepping stone to something bigger. Candidates will want to know what they can learn from you and your company, and whether other young folks like themselves have left you and moved up in their careers. Appeal to their curiosity in your job descriptions. Describe how they will be learning new skills or receiving training that primes them for future opportunities.
- They expect flexibility. This generation, having grown up with laptops and mobile devices, doesn't expect to work in an office all the time, or 9 to 5, like my generation did. Don't recruit new grads unless you can provide them with work/life balance and plenty of options.
- While every graduating class leaves college with lofty ideals, this generation is particularly concerned with making a positive environmental impact on the world. If your company can demonstrate its commitment to addressing these types of concerns, you'll be more attractive to new grads.
- They expect transparent leadership they can trust. In fact, they'll almost naturally distrust a senior leadership team that is in any way secretive or unapproachable. Remember, new graduates are part of the social web era. If they decide to follow your CEO on Twitter or invite the VP of Marketing to connect on LinkedIn, don't ignore them. To attract people fresh out of college, you want a reputation as a company that responds openly and honestly to invites and tweets.
- Forget trying to tie them to terminals or 20-year-old software; new grads expect current technology to be widely used in all aspects of the business. Furthermore, they won't think twice about a company that uses tools or applications they can't access via smart phone. Show them you're up-to-date by inviting them to video interviews, for example, or engaging them through an interactive, mobile career site that tells a meaningful story. If you just list a bunch of boring job descriptions, or display photos of people in cubicles, they'll likely walk away. Instead, offer collaborative team photos and videos that showcase your culture.
Ultimately, the decision about whether to hire a 2015 graduate comes down to what you're looking for. If you want fresh, hungry, technology-driven employees, and you don't mind if they move onward and upward after a few years, then you could gain a lot in terms of productivity. Just be sure you recruit them according to their expectations--not just yours. If you speak their language and present your company as a solid investment of their time and energy, you'll be much more likely to succeed in your efforts.