Career success | Welcome Class of 2013: make the most of new grads

Grads Graduating

Spring means new flowers, baby animals and fresh-faced graduates. Whether you’re just looking for one energetic young worker, or 200 entry-level employees, how can you make sure you get the best?

Why hire grads?

New grads have the latest knowledge, they’re not disillusioned or jaded, and they can bring fresh eyes to your processes and policies, according to Linda Gully, the director of BCom careers at the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business.“They are open like sponges, ready to absorb company culture and processes,” Gully said. “They’re fast learners who are used to picking up skills and they’re resourceful. Gen Y-ers are used to finding answers for themselves whether it’s through collaboration or a Google search.”

Xerox hires more than 100 new grads in Western Canada alone, and recruiting specialist Diana Wyley said it was a win for everyone.

“It seems to be an ideal fit for both Xerox and the candidates. They appreciate the flexibility, autonomy, corporate culture and we like the initiative, drive, passion, eagerness, and work ethic,” she said. “We’re not looking for somebody with 20 years’ experience.”

Attract the best

So how do you make sure you’ve got the right candidate? Xerox goes through a strict process to ensure they have the right fit for both the company and the individual – starting with a phone interview.

“I’m looking for fit and the right personality. Are they outgoing, do they have the tenacity to go out and do a sales job? Sometimes it’s as simple as the verbal skill set – do they have the ability to pick up the phone and talk to me,” Wyley said.

They follow up with an online profile, and from there candidates are selected by the local hiring manager. The young applicants go through an interview process, “ride along” with an experienced worker, and a range of practice role playing calls to practice their sale skills.

Gully said the companies that get the best candidates are those that are involved on campus. Students are familiar with the name and employer branding, and have heard good things from alumni, or intern and co-op students who completed work experience.

Gen Y is especially focused on social responsibility and community involvement so having a robust and well-marketed CSR program can help bring in the best.

Retention, retention, retention

The rumour goes that Gen Y will only stay in a job for one or two years, but according to both Gully and Wyley, if you understand how they’re motivated you can keep them on board.

“It’s a matter of understanding that around 18 months they get restless and want to look into new opportunities so we sit down with them at 12 and 14 months and discuss what path they want to take,” Wyley said.

New grads want to see how they fit into the big picture at an organization. Frequent feedback, flexible hours and plenty of training opportunities are key, Gully said.

“There is a perception out there that students want to change jobs ever 18-24 months, but that’s not entirely accurate,” Gully said.

“They will do that if they feel they’re not getting what they need, but surveys show many students are happy to stay at the same organization as long as they can see a path that will keep them challenged and learning.”

This article was first published on May 22, 2013 on HRM Online.