Brandon Laughridge is Co-Founder and President of PolicyZip, a nationwide online insurance agency specializing in life and health insurance.
Once the commencement ceremonies and graduation celebrations have come to an end, many new college graduates are quick to hit the job market. For employers, this means a surge in entry-level job applications this summer.
In my experience as a hiring employer and President at PolicyZip, new grads are valuable additions to companies: they're full of energy and enthusiasm, more experienced with social media and the internet, and are more likely to work for lower salaries than mid-level employees. However, recruiting recent college graduates with all-star employee potential now often requires more effort on the employer's part.
According to the Association of Colleges and Employers, companies plan to hire 5.2 percent more new graduates this year than in 2015. With more and more companies recognizing the value of hiring new grads, there are increasing options for new full-time job seekers, as well as tougher competition amongst hiring employers. If your company or small business is hoping to add recent grad hires to your team this summer, your typical recruiting process may not be as effective when it comes to these 20-somethings fresh out of college. Consider the following strategies to help you attract qualified entry-level candidates:
Make the Application Process Unique
Many companies have an entire job openings section dedicated to new grads in the same way they might have another section dedicated solely to internships. These positions are extremely attractive to new college grads, since they offer all the perks of a full-time position, but with desirable on-the-job training and learning opportunitiesto help grow professional skills.
Earlier this year, we created a "training dojo" for all of our new hires. It's a small room with multiple desks just next door to our top salesperson's office. Throughout the day, both myself and our top salesperson will take turns in the "dojo" for 20 to 30 minutes to sit alongside new hires. We listen to sales calls and point out key points in the conversation. We piggyback onto the company training materials by catching the new hires at different points in the day, quizzing them on a particular topic and then referencing it back to something we've done on the phones recently.
The desired effects are to make the new hires feel close to company leaders and to show them that what they're learning in the "dojo" is going to be put to use in very real terms once they get on the phones and sell. New college grads, much like any of us, like to see a direct correlation between their efforts and an eventual benefit to the company.
Highlight the Perks
Healthy work-life balance and fair pay are also clearly important to new college grads. The top three most important company benefits identified by graduating seniors of the Class of 2014 were more than two weeks paid vacation time, advanced education tuition reimbursement and guaranteed annual salary increases, according to a surveyconducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. With more companies offering awesome benefits like unlimited paid time off, company outings and gym reimbursement, it's understandable that today's young job seekers want more from their employers.
With numerous new hires right out of college, we recently organized a company event at an indoor soccer park, complete with catered food and access to the location's beer garden. It was a great opportunity to get new hires out of the office and into a casual setting early on in their time at PolicyZip. Over time, companies can test what perks and social events match their culture and employee base. The soccer park was a hit for us, and we were sure to take a lot of pictures to potentially use in future recruiting materials.
Whatever your company has to offer, even perks as simple as a casual office environment or catered Friday lunches, should be highlighted in the job posting. Show applicants that your company values its employees and promotes a healthy office environment.
Connect with Universities
If you aren't getting much of a response from your job posting, try going to the new grads instead of waiting for them to come to you. Most universities have private job search platforms, career fairs, department advisors and professional student organizations. These are all great ways to reach out to recent grads who may still be utilizing their schools' career programs. See what colleges and universities are in your area, and contact their career departments and professional student organizations to start targeting new college grads directly.
Leverage Social Media
An online presence is extremely important for any company in today's market, not only to market yourself to clients, but also to job seekers. A company's website and social media efforts give candidates a better understanding of their business values and personality, helping applicants determine if they would be a good fit for the corporation. Additionally, a simple "We're hiring!" post is a great way to spread word to social media-savvy college grads seeking entry-level positions.
While we don't have one yet, filming a trendy recruitment video that highlights your office space and interviews a few employees about the benefits of working at the company can also be worth the investment. Young employees are more likely to be on the lookout for a work environment that is inviting, and video is the most effective medium to convey that to potential hires.
Nail the Interview
Once you've received a good amount of applications and have selected a few candidates, it's important that you cater the interviews to first-time job seekers. Keep in mind that the in-person interview may be your candidate's first post-college job interview, or even the first time he or she has visited a corporate office, so it's important to make this as positive an experience as possible.
For the most part, new grad interviewees won't have much professional experience to refer to when answering interview questions. Instead, ask them about challenges they have faced and overcome in their coursework, part-time jobs, athletics or internships. Following the interview, introduce candidates to colleagues and potential team members, and provide a tour of the office to show them more of the company culture.
The class of 2016 has the potential to be a great resource for your company, bringing fresh perspectives, abundant enthusiasm and expert tech knowledge to your corporation. Slightly modifying your recruitment process for new college grads can go a long way, helping you attract and hire motivated and talented candidates.