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Graduates: Employable Talent, Hidden In Plain Sight

By Siobhan on

Where have all the candidates gone?!

Okay, there are still some out there – we’ve got some really good people registered at the moment. But there is a current shortage. And salaries are being driven up as a consequence of the higher demand placed on the really good applicants.

But we’ve recently tapped in to a broader pool of talent. One that you might not have thought about, or maybe just not thought about yet: 2017 graduates.

2017 Graduates, You Say?

We get that you ideally want someone with experience. But, firstly, you’ll have to pay more for this experience in the current market. And, secondly, lots of graduates actually will have experience, either from a year in industry or from taking on work experience in their own time. And the main benefit to a new graduate is that you can take them on as a junior and train them to do work as you would like it to be done.

The other thing that new graduates have going for them is enthusiasm in spades. They’re fresh from their degree and excited to get into the workplace. And you can surf that wave of keenness until they’re settled in and learning your processes.

How Do I Interview Graduates?

Interviewing graduates can be a tad tricky, given that they typically have little commercial experience. But there are things you can look out for. Such as respect for the profession, interest in the company, willingness, honesty, motivation, ambition, and manageability.

It’s best to be more relaxed and informal with candidates at this level. And the more formulaic style of questions may not bring out the best in the interviewees, given that they’re unlikely to have much experience with them. A structured and rigid interview process may lead fewer candidates to perform well. But a more informal interview style will allow their personality to come through.

You’re also better off looking for more than just specific experience at this level. Energy, drive, tenacity, motivation, and determination may be what would really benefit you for a brand new starter. So be on the lookout for these qualities!

Importantly, you should also be realistic and fair about the role when interviewing. Make sure that the candidate is aware what they’ll be getting into, and don’t only present the positive aspects of the job. The last thing you want is an unexpected resignation because the candidate wasn’t sure what to expect and was overwhelmed!

What Sort Of Culture Do Graduates Value?

A cultural fit between the candidate and the company is just as important as their ability to do the job. You should consider carefully how potential employees would fit in with their prospective team, or the company as a whole, just as you would their ability to do the job. The best applicants want to be part of a successful and forward-thinking organisation. You need to be loyal to them to earn their loyalty, and rewarding them is part and parcel of that.

Graduates are really keen to join companies that have a clear path for development and job progression opportunities. They’re fresh out of uni, and they need stability and security. So things like a structured career path, prospects for promotion and progression, pay rises (in return for work and as appropriate, of course!), and good benefits, are of particular importance. You don’t just want to entice people to work for you; you want to entice them to stay.

When Can They Start?

Sure, the majority won’t be available until June or so, but that’s really not that far away now – particularly if you compare it to the recruitment process plus notice period for a more experienced candidate. And a significant number of the graduates we’ve spoken to are happy and able to start work on a part-time basis before they graduate, which brings their potential start date even closer!

And, as if to emphasise my point, we’ve just placed our first 2017 not-yet-graduated graduate. It really does happen!

And If Hiring A New Graduate Simply Won’t Work For Me?

Even if this wouldn’t be the right approach for you, it doesn’t hurt to broaden your criteria if you’re struggling to find the right person. Agencies, why not consider someone from an in-house background, and vice versa? If you need someone B2B, and an applicant has consumer experience but wants B2B, why not give them a shot and let them prove their worth?

Over the past year and a half, we’ve placed a number of candidates who didn’t have relevant sector experience. What they did have was a fresh set of eyes and a real enthusiasm for the challenge.

There doesn’t have to be a lack of candidates if you’re able – and we understand that this is simply not feasible for everyone – and willing to look wider and broader. If you can, then this sort of thinking outside the box might just land you with a perfect candidate who can learn and progress with you.