Why companies should be hiring more graduates

You can train for skill, but you can’t train for personality
Successful firms will tap into their ability to learn and innovate.
Companies are not often excited about hiring graduates. They’re nervous about their ability and autonomy, about under-investment in training, low expectations, and a disconnect with older, senior managers. But it pays to see the world slightly differently. If a business can accommodate a dedicated scheme for hiring graduates, a structured model for training and realistic opportunities for them to progress, then there are a number of tangible rewards.

A FRESH START

Graduates and junior hires don’t come with the typical baggage of the more experienced. Most universities foster an environment in which self-learning is the norm, and this is a perfect introduction for professional life in a forward-thinking company.
Particularly as the pace of change quickens, it’s incredible how little “experience” can count for. Rather than hiring those that know one thing thoroughly, it’s far easier to hire those that know nothing, but then put them on a path of continuous learning, setting the expectation from day one that nothing is set in stone. This is a remarkably difficult shift for an “expert” to take on, but graduates relish it.

CHANGING ROLES

As structures flatten and meritocracy blossoms, being comfortable proving their ability based on output rather than seniority seems to suit young talent far better than old, who often carry a sense of entitlement.
It’s graduates’ very lack of experience that means they’ve yet to pick up these bad habits, meaning they are far better placed to drive innovation. New solutions and the best ideas often come from someone asking an earnest question that stems from simply not already having a routine to follow.

INCLUSIVITY AND INVESTMENT

Having recruits start from the bottom and prove their worth might be slow. But it’s far better to build leadership from your internal talent pool than have to take chances on people you’ve spoken to for less than three hours. Anyone you’ve invested in comes with greater buy-in and loyalty – something you can’t expect on day one.
There are always going to be fears that you might invest time, and in resources and training, only for someone to then leave – but that should be balanced against the time and expense of consistently recruiting staff that already have the experience and knowledge to jump straight in from the outset.

ENTHUSIASM

Interviewing graduates and reviewing their CVs can be difficult. But instead of looking for relevant experience, focus on aptitudes, personality traits and the desire to learn. This way, you can find the right balance of individual potential and drive.
Recruiters and managers need to carefully distinguish between wide-eyed enthusiasm and a realistic path for progression. But if the structure is in place to provide graduates with all the tools required to progress and eventually earn promotion, you can build a team of motivated, invested staff in a way that’s not easily achieved in a more traditional model.
Martin McNulty is chief executive of Forward3D.

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