Hiring Graduates How To Wean Out Time wasters

As the academic year draws to a close and thousands of graduates join the job market, I asked one of my colleagues to write a short article on the do's and don'ts when it comes to hiring graduates. Enjoy…


The academic year is over, bringing with it graduation ceremonies up and down the UK. Into the business world are released thousands of keen graduates, each looking to find a rewarding job which makes use of their talents and the skills they have cultivated throughout their studies.

Although they are not the be-all and end-all where recruitment is concerned, you may have decided to hire out of the graduate market for the qualities which make them desirable hires: they are raw, with fresh perspectives, eager to see how investing in their education has affected their career prospects. The sheer volume of applicants citing a BSc or a BA on their CV can be enough to make recruitment daunting prospect. Some companies thin down their applicants by refusing everybody below a certain grade threshold, for example, but even this does not trim back to reveal your star candidate immediately.

Recruitment managers have the difficult task of determining which applicants can do the job, which applicants want to do the job and which will fit in to the company.

Can they do the job?

You may think that hiring a great, highly-qualified graduate candidate will ensure this success immediately, but you must be realistic. As they are new to the world of business, all graduate hires will need a little more moulding and training than other applicants.

Many graduate jobseekers worry that this lack of experience will put employers off. This is irrelevant to companies hiring out of the graduate market. They are aware that candidates will be inexperienced in terms of real business practices. If you do not have the time to spare to coach them towards success, you should identify this and consider searching elsewhere for applicants.

Do they want to do the job?

Taking into consideration the number of graduates and the current employment situation in Britain, it is crucial to ensure that you end up with candidates who suit your company. Try to identify those who genuinely want to be part of your company, not simply in employment or ‘in the field’. Unsurprisingly, you will get better results from those with genuine passion for your company.

Will they fit into the company?

The answer to this often lies in the candidate’s attitude. If they demonstrate a maturity and passion, displaying good personal and communication skills, you have a candidate who will probably respond well to a corporate or business environment with a little training and coaching.

How do I prepare them? How soon?

Establishing roles, habits and behaviours in the first three months of a new position is pivotal. After three or more years of university, they will have developed excellent time-leverage and the ability to prioritise. Their written communication skills may be of a particularly high standard. However, their lack of experience in a business or corporate environment will be obstacles that you must prepare them to overcome.

Don’t waste the talents of your recruits on Xerox or Tassimo machines.

They will not overcome this inexperience if they are fobbed off on various managers, to ‘see’ different areas of the business. If you know that being a graduate recruit in your company means making coffee and being sent from pillar to post fetching and photocopying for different departments: reconsider your approach.

Getting managers involved at recruitment level is a great place to start your success story. This is particularly true if there are any anti-graduate attitudes within the company’s senior management. By involving them, they get the opportunity to identify strong potential working relationships for themselves. Your managers have the chance to say for themselves what it is they require from a candidate and likewise, what is not workable. Provide briefing sessions with regards to your plans for graduate induction. Announce your intention to hold review sessions, monitoring progress.

Educate your new employees.

As soon as your onboarding process is underway, you should provide your recruit with all the available information about your company. Everything from its humble beginnings to its current demographic will help to inform the future input of your new recruit. They will able to see your long term goals and become familiar with the culture of your company. They should be made familiar with current services, products in development, senior members of staff and more. You may worry that you are bombarding your new recruit, but they will be grateful for the trajectory this information will provide.

New hires should feel comfortable asking questions and to make this even easier, you might consider a buddy scheme. These can be perfect for providing a less formal channel of support. If you can pair your new graduates with those who have already established themselves in your company, the shared experience will help your newcomer.

Set deliverable tasks from the go.

The processes and methods of operating within your workplace should be made as clear as possible. If your new recruit knows from the very first day how things are done, they will feel keen to get on and become part of these processes. You should aim to give them technical and practical training quickly and allocate them specific responsibilities.

Placing them in roles which allow them to perform deliverable tasks is important. It helps them to feel instantly part of the team and ensures that their skills continue to be developed directly out of education, not allowed to stagnate stirring coffee. It also sets them on the path to making your company money faster.

Once this functional skill set has been established, you should move onto development of personal skills.

If you have been fortunate and careful throughout your recruitment process, elements of this may already be in place, simply in need of nurturing. Any time spent with senior staff members will be beneficial for this development. Supported by those who have highly-cultivated personal skills, your candidate will quickly learn to influence and communicate effectively, gathering an understanding of business etiquette.

If you establish a coaching culture for behavioural issues immediately as they arise, this can ensure that feedback is received in a more encouraging light.

Choosing between hundreds of inexperienced applicants with the same capacity to be taught technical skills, attitude is what will make the most difference, both in the initial stages of employment and throughout their career with your company. This maturity, these personal and behavioural skills are what most graduates lack amongst their raw talents. These are what ultimately make the difference between a competent employee and an outstanding one.

Graduates and recruitment staff should always remember that it’s not simply what you do: it’s how you do it.

If you are presented with a candidate who already demonstrates business awareness and maturity in the application stages, your decision should be made a great deal easier. This is how you can differentiate between who will function adequately as a member of staff within your company and who will excel. If you feel certain that not only will your candidate be able to get the job done, but get the job done in the right way for your company, you can feel confident that you have a good match.

It’s all about the attitude.

Kind regards

Laura Ashley-Timms - Director of Coaching