This article was updated on July 25, 2018.
Summer marks the time when hiring recent grads becomes a serious focus for many HR teams, especially considering some 1.87 million students will graduate from college in 2016, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
With the influx of new candidates, recruiting teams should be preparing to evaluate and recruit this unique group of young applicants. Although organizations should not completely change their recruiting processes to accommodate that demographic, recent college grads do have characteristics that recruiting teams need to understand.
Here are four things recruiting teams should know about new graduates before beginning the hiring process.
1. Being Tech Savvy Isn't Tech Savvy, It's Just Normal
Today's recent grads have been raised with technology. According to Media Technology Monitor, nearly 90 percent of millennials in Canada have a smart phone, 90 percent use social networks and nearly half own a tablet. Millennials are mobile and social. This is how they communicate.
Jason Dorsey, co-founder of the Center for Generational Kinetics, says that recent grads will be hard on organizations with their technology expectations. To compete for recent grads, HR must adapt the recruiting process in many ways, from engaging with candidates on social networks to discussing with candidates how work technology will empower them to learn, grow and contribute to organizational goals and their own.
2. Recent College Grads Are Researching You, Too
It is now common for recruiting teams to search candidate profiles on Google, Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, to name only a few. However, recruiters are not the only ones doing research like that.
According to the CareerBuilder 2015 Candidate Behavior Study, applicants consult up to 18 resources to research organizations. Candidates look for news stories about organizations and executives, pictures of other employees on social sites and even background information on the recruiters and hiring managers themselves.
Recruiters must be prepared for questions from candidates about their potential findings, if only to sound prepared and knowledgeable about what is discoverable on the internet about the organization and its people.
3. Pitch the Entire Career Picture
Recent college grads not only believe work-life balance is important to overall job satisfaction, but according to the ADP Research Institute® The Evolution of Work: The Changing Nature of the Global Workplace report, candidates today are "guided by a search for meaning or doing important work rather than by simply earning a paycheck with good benefits." Work is more than just about a job for recent graduates.
Recruiters should acknowledge that trend and sell candidates on how the organization addresses issues of work-life balance and purpose at work. Even if your organization does not have the zany, flexible work environment of Silicon Valley start-ups, there are a number of ways to positively frame aspects of your organization that promote work-life balance and deliver the type of value young recruits are clamoring for.
For example, for jobs that are customer facing or otherwise less flexible by nature, recruiters could focus on how the work contributes to the meaningful pursuit of the broader organizational mission or highlight the opportunities that follow if they perform well in an entry-level position.
4. Challenge Them to Show You What They Can Do
Recent grads do not have extensive work experience to evaluate; however, that doesn't mean recent grads have not produced relevant work in school or in their personal time. They may have a personal blog, creative portfolios on a website or have created brochures and advertisements for club events they planned in college. Students may not put these on their resume because they are not considered formal work experience from a job.
Asking candidates to submit work samples is a great way to evaluate skills and assess how a candidate responds to a work request. Recruiters could also learn intangibles about how much effort they are willing to put in, how well they listen to instructions and whether they ask follow-up question to make sure they fully understand the assignment.
In a war for talent, it is imperative to focus time and resources on understanding, recruiting and hiring recent grads. In a few short years every organization will be jockeying to land these rising stars, so your HR team would do well to earn their respect and loyalty now, before somebody else does a better job of giving them what they want.