Preparing Grads for the Workforce

graduation-1345123_640With the college graduation season drawing to a close, an influx of new talent enters the workforce offering new opportunities for recruiters. Ideally for these recent grads, a job is lined up pending graduation. However, while the market for recent grads has improved from the early 2010s, a significant portion of grads don’t land that dream job they’ve been preparing for. In fact, for the class of 2015, around 7% graduated unemployed and almost 15% wound up working jobs that didn’t require a college degree, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

So what can recruiters do to help integrate recent grads into the workforce? For many grads, this unknown territory – the professional workforce – proves a source of anxiety. In this instance, recruiters can be a beacon of light. Their industry expertise and established professional connections can aide a grad in securing an entry level position that will jump start their career.

So, while in a perfect world,the job planning process begins on the first day of college, for many grads that’s not the case. That’s where recruiters come in. In an effort to help recruiters prepare this new class of graduates for the workforce, here are three tips to keep in mind:

Social Media Image. In today’s world, a person’s image is dictated by several factors. Social media is a significant image influencer, as it’s often a hiring manager’s first impression once a candidate is identified. As a recruiter, you should already be doing research on an individual’s social media history when submitting them as a potential candidate. Especially with recent grads, it’s necessary to scan social media profiles before taking any next steps.  Too often carelessness on social media sites leads to missed opportunities because the image presented on these channels doesn’t align with the professionalism of a candidate’s resume. When working with candidates, stress that anything posted on Facebook and Twitter will live on forever, so make sure that social pages are manicured and any inappropriate photos of drinking and partying are removed. This importance of this cannot be overstated.

Combat their inexperience. Because relevant experience is often lacking for those newly entering the workforce, an alternative for candidates is to reinforce relevant technical skills that will be useful on the job. The resume and social profiles together give prospective employers a sense of the candidate before they even set a foot in the door for an interview. With that in mind, counsel grads to highlight skills that directly relate to the open position. If it’s an accounting role, encourage them to note in the resume any Excel expertise, education and training. Participation in student professional societies and leadership positions in these types of examples work to fill experience gaps. If inexperience can’t be backed up by pointing to involvement in other academic, athletic or even social activities, stress that taking time to pursue an internship rather than a full-time position might be the best option. Internships after graduation may be less appealing, but they offer a chance to get real work experience and often times lead to a full-time role.

Network. Networking is essential in all aspects of the business world, and a recruiter’s network is a huge part of what makes them so valuable. Companies are always looking to fill their entry-level positions with talented young professionals with strong potential. Proactively reaching out to graduates who possess skill sets relevant to the industries you staff is a good way boost your own network with this new talent. Don’t just add them on LinkedIn out of the blue. Take time to craft a brief note explaining why you’re making the connection, noting how their outlined skills or experience are relevant to the positions you recruit for. Even if the person isn’t making any immediate career moves, grads are often open to growing their network any way possible, and for the recruiter, it’s an investment that to establish the connection for later down the line.

Helping a new grad prepare for their first job doesn’t end once they’ve signed a contract. In fact, to maintain your client network, it’s important the new hire is ready for their first weeks on the job. For example, counsel grads to avoid coming across as overly casual when first entering the work environment – a common critique for recent grads – by gauging the tone and culture of the workplace before taking any liberties. You want this person to reflect positively on your ability to judge talent.

The job search is a stressful process, even more so when transitioning from school to the professional workplace. Taking time to help recent graduates prepare for this transition is an important opportunity for recruiters to take on. Set aside time to research this new pool of talent and grow your own network. It will not only be fulfilling to help these newbies enter the workforce, but a great opportunity to grow your own list of prospective talent.

Bridget O’Connell

Bridget O’Connell
Regional vice president, finance and accounting at Addison Group

Bridget O’Connell
Regional vice president, finance and accounting at Addison Group

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