Recruitment Strategies for Winning Over the 2015 College Graduates

by Dora Wang on Jun 30, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Recruitment Strategies for Winning Over the 2015 College Graduates by TINYpulseExcellent news for new bachelor degree graduates may be difficult news for companies. After several years of poor hiring statistics and massive difficulties finding jobs out of college, a new survey found that hiring for new graduates will grow by leaps in 2015 — and that means companies must be planning for the competition.

According to a new Michigan State University survey of 5,700 companies who were asked about plans for students who will finish school in spring 2015:

  • Hiring of new graduates of bachelor’s degrees will jump by 16% in 2015

  • Hiring among telecommunications companies, motion pictures, broadcasting, and publishing will jump by 51% over the last year

  • Finance and insurance companies will boost hiring by 31% in the last year

  • Manufacturers’ hiring will jump by 17%

  • Nonprofit hiring will jump by 16%

Finally, for new graduates, the future seems optimistic. However, with that optimism comes some serious competition for hiring businesses. Now, companies — particularly in telecommunications, motion pictures, broadcasting, and yes, even publishing, despite the stereotype that print is dead — will find that attracting top talent out of college will be much harder than in the past several years.

The Problem With Hiring in Competition

According to the statistics, the power now lies in new grad job seekers’ hands. Now, new grads have options and won’t jump at the first job offer they receive. For employers, this raises the very real concern of reneging on a job offer. Because of the opening of the job market, candidates are more likely to “shop around” for a better offer — a higher salary, a more prestigious company, or a higher title, among any other personal concerns. Survey respondents from the Michigan State University study stated that reneging was a “major” problem, and many have had the experience of a student accepting an offer before they graduate and then backing out months later.

Companies surveyed also stated that some of the trouble actually came not from the new grads but from their parents or guardians, who pressure their children to find the “best” offer from the most “acceptable” companies.

Obviously this is a major concern to companies who put a lot of funding into the recruiting and hiring process. Starting all over again is costly and time-consuming.

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Culture and Brand Will Separate You From the Rest

Now, more than ever, having a vibrant and unique culture and brand is crucial. Your unique company identity is what will draw new graduates to you instead of your competition, and it will keep them interested in the long run.

But this doesn’t just mean a differentiated company culture is enough. The key is to effectively communicate that culture and brand. Put yourself in a value position as a company. Articulate via social media and during the recruiting and interviewing process what your company culture means to that candidate in particular. Maybe you foster an entrepreneurial spirit by allowing for innovation from your employees; maybe you have a gym and wellness classes on site; maybe you have flexible hours and work environment; maybe your values are about giving back to the community — whatever your unique value proposition is from your company culture, ring it loud and clear.

This company culture can’t appear out of thin air. If you don’t already have a strong one, it’s something that you must make a priority before you think you can be competitive in this new job market. Get your employees on board and have them embody this culture so it will come to life during the entire hiring process and beyond.

Specific Ways to Stand Out Amid Hiring Competition

Your unique company culture — and your effective communication surrounding it — may be enough for some new graduate job candidates. You will hopefully find new hires who align perfectly with your values, brand, and culture as a whole. However, it’s still important to remember these tips about the hiring process to ensure you aren’t pushing job candidates away in this climate.

  • A job interview is not an interrogation: If you have a potential job candidate, remember that the job interview should be a back-and-forth conversation; the potential hire should never feel like they are being given the third degree. Think about how you are coming across. You can be tough, of course, to ensure they align with your company. But, remember that they are also looking for the best fit in this job market full of new opportunities. They are going to have lots of questions for you, too — if they are smart and ambitious. And you should want those smart and ambitious new graduates working for you.
  • Transparency is key: Make it clear from the get-go what the hiring process will be like. First off, about the interviews: How many interviews should they expect? Who will they be speaking with? What will the time-frame be? Don’t make their lives harder or busier than they already are. Set potential hires up for success. (And while we’re on it, ditch those convoluted online systems for applying. Any roadblocks will probably drive candidates away.)
  • It might seem like the right idea in a competitive market to talk up your company as much as possible. Eliminate that idea from your head. Be transparent about the company — its benefits, its downfalls — so a candidate can make an educated decision. This candidness will be more compelling to a job seeker, and it’ll be far more beneficial for you both in the long run.
  • Social media is crucial: New graduates live their lives on social media. Make sure your company has a strong presence on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and even sites like Pinterest, Instagram, and others if it suits your industry. These presences shouldn’t just be about putting out information; they should be extensions of your company culture. Be active, develop a strong voice, and share pictures of the office environment and employees. Depending on how it works for your company, consider even accepting job inquiries via social media.
  • Ignore the GPA and college major: Okay, don’t entirely skip looking at a candidate’s GPA — clearly someone who failed lots of classes might not be the best fit. But, in general, don’t stay strict to only looking for candidates who, for example, majored in marketing for a marketing role or finance for a finance role. That could be shutting down excellent, hardworking new graduates who fit perfectly with your culture and just need some on-the-job training. In a similar manner, the highest GPA doesn’t always mean the hardest worker or smartest graduate — and that might not even matter. Far more important is cultural fit, so don’t box yourself in and limit your already limited recruiting pool.

New graduates have job opportunities like they haven’t seen in years. While this is a positive step for our economy, companies will need to update their recruitment strategies to meet the new challenge.



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This post was written by Dora Wang

Dora is an employee engagement researcher for TINYpulse and managing editor of TINYinstitute. Having grown up in Texas, she is now firmly settled in Seattle, where she spends her free time reading comic books, wrangling her three cats, and (of course) rooting for the Seahawks.

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