How and why employers should prioritize hiring graduates

How and why employers should prioritize hiring graduates

Benefits of graduate recruiting: How and why employers should prioritize hiring graduates

Employers expect to hire 14.7% more recent graduates from colleges and universities in the Class of 2023 than they did in the Class of 2022, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers Job Outlook 2023 report. That means a new group of young professionals is available for recruiters to hire for entry-level positions and develop for career success. 

But as our economy improves, many recruiters struggle to find qualified candidates for open positions, despite the rise in graduates with degrees in various fields. This is particularly true for jobs requiring a college degree and in rapidly growing industries, such as information technology, where employers are vying for the best talent. 

Employing a recent graduate with little-to-no work experience requires a different strategy than employing an experienced job seeker. One approach businesses can use is to prioritize hiring recent college graduates.

Why you should prioritize hiring graduates

Employers should prioritize graduate recruiting for several reasons. Although they might not have the professional experience more experienced job seekers do, recent graduates are an essential part of the workforce because they provide your company with several advantages. College graduates have diverse skills and knowledge and bring new perspectives and approaches to problems, which can help you expand your business and make your teams more well-rounded. Recent graduates are also more likely to stay with a company longer. 

Additional ways prioritizing hiring recent graduates can help your company include:

  • Expanding your candidate pool. Only 58% of entry-level positions are filled by graduates, so focusing on graduates can improve your chances of making a great hire.
  • Increasing your company's knowledge of emerging technology. Today's graduates will have no trouble embracing any new technology your company may implement or even suggesting new software because they were raised in a technologically advanced environment. 
  • Fostering a more open-minded and adaptable workforce. Graduates are more flexible because they are more open to new ideas, willing to listen to advice, curious, and eager to learn. Their approach to thinking and working is flexible, which makes them more adaptable to unforeseen circumstances. 

"Recruiting recent graduates can be a great way to infuse new ideas and enthusiasm into your company. Creating an effective strategy for identifying and interacting with interested graduates is an effective way to reach potential candidates."

How to prioritize hiring graduates

Recruiting recent graduates can be a great way to infuse new ideas and enthusiasm into your company. When it comes to hiring graduates, however, it can be difficult to know where to start. Creating an effective strategy for identifying and interacting with interested graduates is an effective way to reach potential candidates. The following are some tips to incorporate into your graduate recruiting strategy:

Engage the career services departments of your local colleges and universities

The career services division of many universities and colleges fosters connections between students and potential employers. Working closely with them will help you develop a pool of potential hires from their graduates, including those who have been in the workforce for some time. 

Attend job fairs and networking events in your area

Career fairs, networking events, and industry panels all offer an opportunity to network with many recent graduates. Engaging face to face allows you to feature your business and connect with potential hires you might not have otherwise been introduced to through other recruiting methods.

Update your job descriptions 

A graduate's first encounter with your company is usually through your job description or posting. Updating your job descriptions to include inclusive language, reducing the number of necessary qualifications to a minimum, highlighting the skills that can be learned on the job, and emphasizing benefits and compensation can help you attract the best candidates.

Leverage online recruiting and social media

Using social media, participating in online job postings, and running targeted online advertisements are all crucial recruitment strategies for recent graduates. Before applying for jobs, many applicants research company cultures using social media and the internet, such as on Twitter and LinkedIn, company websites, and internet search engines. Posting job openings and recruiting activities on your website and social media pages can help you find graduates with the skills you need for your open positions.

Create an internship program

Internships are another way to create a pipeline of qualified graduates while providing an opportunity for graduates to gain experience and learn how your business operates. Successful interns mean you have a potential new employee who requires little training or onboarding and is already acclimated to your company's culture and policies. 

Highlight your professional development opportunities

Recent graduates prioritize career development and training when assessing job opportunities. In job postings, mention the opportunities for development and learning your company offers, such as mentoring programs, training programs, leadership development initiatives, or funding for outside training.  

Showcase your commitment to diversity and inclusion, sustainability, and corporate responsibility

Today, graduate job seekers are more diverse than ever and prefer to work for businesses that value innovation, inclusion, and social responsibility. If you have a mission with a clear purpose; inventive diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs; or volunteer projects, highlight it. Be open about where you are in your DEI and corporate responsibility journey and what you're doing to improve.

What do employers look for in new grads with little career experience?

Most employers look for candidates with a combination of education, skills, and relevant experience when considering recent graduates for employment. While a solid educational background is important, employers also take into account applicants with a strong work ethic and professionalism who are a good fit with the company culture. 

One area of concern for new graduates is their lack of work experience. In fact, in a recent survey, almost half of all respondents cited frustrations with job listings that detailed inappropriate experience requirements for entry-level positions. To attract those candidates, employers should consider any work experience, even if not relevant to the position or industry. That experience can help you assess the skills and qualities necessary for your positions. 

In addition, employers seek recent graduates with the following attributes and skills:

  • Solid communication skills
  • Capacity for teamwork
  • Analytical, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills
  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Optimistic outlook
  • Potential for leadership
  • Strong technology or technical skills
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Attention to detail
  • Passion for the industry or profession

What are new graduates looking for in an employer?

While you might be looking for graduates with particular qualifications, graduates have their own standards when seeking jobs. As new graduates enter the workforce, they seek out employers that, among other things, can provide them with opportunities for career advancement and development, generous compensation, benefits, and perks. They also look for a solid reputation with a clear mission statement and a commitment to DEI. 

Graduates are also seeking the following things from employers: 

  • A streamlined application and interview processes
  • A greater focus on skill set than experience
  • Work-life balance
  • A healthy and inclusive workplace culture
  • A flexible work environment
  • Transparency

Be sure to consider all these factors when devising your recruiting strategy and streamlining your hiring process.

Now is the time to prioritize hiring graduates

It takes effort to attract and retain recent graduates. However, prioritizing hiring graduates can have several advantages for your company. Now you know the major benefits of hiring graduates, you can create the best recruiting strategy to find and attract the best graduate talent. And when you are interviewing and screening graduates to fill your open positions, keep in mind that they are doing the same. Work to meet their expectations, too. 

Related advice: More hiring strategy tips

Five tips for updating your hiring strategies to attract your ideal candidates.

Want to attract more qualified applicants? Learn how to use keywords in job postings.

Are you recruiting in hospitality? Use these four tips to find the best candidates. 

Need to fill positions now? These seven strategies help you source candidates faster.

Previous Article
The art of hiring interns: Best practices for finding and developing top talent
The art of hiring interns: Best practices for finding and developing top talent

Looking to enhance your company's performance and create a pool of future talent? Learn how to best hire in...

Next Article
Internal recruiting: How it works and its benefits
Internal recruiting: How it works and its benefits

Internal recruiting can make your hiring process easier. Keep reading for more information about internal r...