How To Hire A College Graduate

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by Mary Catania and BrightMove Applicant Tracking and Recruiting Software 

They are eager to please, full of energy, optimism, and new ideas, but are these young twenty-something’s ready to enter the workplace? A typical college graduate has been in a college microcosm for the last four years, fresh from fraternities, sororities, campuses, classrooms, and dormitories. Suddenly, a student’s world changes from a carefree college kid to a full-time employee.

According to FTI Consulting, in a recent online study, over 1,000 industry-wide recruiters revealed that they believe only 16 percent of graduates have the knowledge and skills-set they need when applying for a job. That leaves 84 percent unprepared to enter the workforce. Furthermore, 93 percent of the recruiters stated that the higher education system is doing a poor job at preparing students for a job.

Graduates have to get used to sitting in office cubicles rather than in interactive classrooms and taking orders from a boss rather than a professor. They have to learn to participate in business meetings and interact with a team members rather than relying on themselves to finish term papers and study.

So how do we fill this knowledge gap and who is responsible for training graduates to enter the workforce? The burden of responsibility rests not only on colleges, but also students to acquire real-world translatable skills before graduation so they can be applied and utilized right out of the gates.

In today’s competitive job market, graduates need to have a robust and well-rounded resume. Recruiters should be reviewing resumes for applicable jobs and internships held throughout high school and college. Has the candidate held any notable positions in clubs, sports, or participated in rigorous internship programs? Did the candidate work during summer and winter breaks? It’s important to scrutinize skills and extra curricular activities as much as a graduate’s grades and major. Red flags should go up when the only work experience a candidate has is as a waitress or bartender, or none at all. For example, who is the better candidate?

A: A college grad with an A average majoring in Business with no previous work experience.

B: A college grad with a B average majoring in Business, and multiple internships under his/her belt.

It’s important to look at all the extra stuff a job applicant does while in school, because it can foretell how they will adapt in a professional environment. Questions recruiters should be asking themselves are: does the graduate know how to dress for success? Does he or she know how to work as a team, but also produce individual results? Does the graduate have good time management and organizational skills?

Recruiters should be asking these pertinent questions before hiring a recent college graduate. Furthermore, the online survey mentioned above, conducted by FTI Consulting, tracked 11 skills deemed essential to successful workplace performance, which recruiters should assess prior to hiring or recommending for employment:

  • Interpersonal skills
  • Teamwork
  • Problem solving
  • Job specific knowledge
  • Written communication skills
  • Work experience
  • Technical ability
  • Education
  • Professional references
  • Business Savvy
  • Math Capability

Unlike experienced workers, a lot of college graduates haven’t had a full-time, 8 to 5 job before, so they may not be used to a set schedule. And the skills and knowledge you need in an academic classroom aren’t necessarily the same ones you use in an office setting, so a lot of these skills listed above are acquired through experience. Although there are pools of eager graduates to hire from, recruiters should seek out the most qualified and well-rounded candidate.


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