Hiring college graduates: What they look for in employers

Contrary to their “Me Generation” label, Gen Ys are often innovative, cutting-edge risk takers.

For some people, the term “Millennial” brings to mind a 20-something who is glued to their smartphone, laying on a couch as they binge-watch Breaking Bad. While that may be an accurate picture on the weekend, it’s often not the case during the work week.

Contrary to their “Me Generation” label, Gen Ys are often innovative, cutting-edge risk takers. That’s why Forbes calls them the most successful entrepreneurs.

And while not every recent college graduate or 20-something that you hire has entrepreneurial aspirations, those qualities are inherent in a generation that has experienced a deep recession and bumpy economy.

By hiring Millennials now, you’re grabbing them up while they’re still fresh in the workplace. That gives you the opportunity to mold them into the employees you want them to be.

How can you successfully hire college graduates for your business? It’s just a matter of enticing them.

Address the Skills Gap of New Talent

Many employers provide some type of onboarding for their new hires. When onboarding Millennials, employers would be wise to include training to boost their soft skills and help them succeed.

While these skills are learned over time, your company can implement exercises and employee training that nurtures their employee development.

Millennials are also seeking mentorships within the workplace. Pairing these young professionals with older, more seasoned veterans enables them to get a better understanding of different facets of the company while gaining professional experience from someone who has been through the ropes.

Seeing the company and industry from this angle enables them to envision and achieve their path for advancement, a key quality in companies that attract new college graduates.

Forge Paths for Advancement

It’s important for recruiters, managers and team leaders to have conversations about career planning and advancement opportunities when hiring Gen Y.

A Huffington Post article referenced research from Capstrat that found 61% of millennial workers want more formal consultations with their bosses, with 53% desiring more one-on-one discussions. They want to be coached -- and they know the importance of listening to managers and team leaders when it comes to advancing their career path.

At the same time, they want to see the company they work for working for them. Do so by providing in-house and outside networking opportunities. Invest in the skills and training they need to fulfill their career dreams. Have candid employee performance reviews that provide positive feedback on ways they need to improve to realize their potential.

Provide a Flexible Work Environment

While Millennials don’t mind putting in 9 to 5 workdays, they’re more likely to work somewhere with flexible hours and locations. Furthermore, they want to be assessed by how much work they get done, not by how many hours they sit at their desk, reports Business.com.

But this isn’t just a trend among Millennials. Author Jody Thompson encourages employers to manage work, not time, to increase productivity while keeping employees engaged and happy.

Millennials also crave the flexibility to be social in the workplace. That’s not to say that they spend the whole day chatting or hanging around the proverbial water cooler. Rather, they want outlets outside of working hours that provide opportunities for them to establish real-life relationships with their co-workers. This can range from events like happy hours to recreational team sports to team lunches.

The key point in hiring college graduates is to avoiding making them something they’re not. Instead, strive to be a company with a "brandful workforce" -- a place that offers Millennials the flexibility, freedom and the ability to move in, move up and move on as they develop professionally.

Hiring new graduates requires getting to know them and caring about their desire to thrive as they enter the workforce. Being the kind of company that cares about these qualities will attract Millennials and new college graduates as well as future generations to come.


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