With so many young people going to university these days, many businesses choose to go down the graduate recruitment path. Ambitious, bright and determined graduates can make a big impact on business revenue and team dynamics in a relatively short space of time. I have been involved in graduate recruitment for 10 years now and have seen my clients’ businesses flourish under the influx of graduates. The majority of the companies I work with admit that 70-80% of their recruitment needs can be satisfied by bringing young, motivated and educated people on board.
But how can you make sure the money you spend on attracting, recruiting, training and developing your graduates doesn’t go down the pan?
I believe the answer is simple: by giving graduates what they want.
We recently conducted a survey amongst the graduates we have placed and it’s apparent that young, ambitious, degree-educated individuals are looking for 5 things:
1. Well organised and structured training
Young people who have only just graduated need very good training. They crave knowledge and information. They know that training is very important to their careers and if they are to be successful in their future roles, they have to be shown the ropes. They can’t be expected to just do the job with minimal training so we need to spend time moulding them into the employees we want them to be. Without training, graduates won’t feel confident doing their job and employers won’t be happy with their performance. If a graduate tells you after a few months’ employment that they want to go back to education, it’s usually because they haven’t been given sufficient training.
It’s really important that the person who manages young talent has really bought into the idea of ‘growing your own’. A good mentor will provide guidance and coaching on a regular basis and will impress with their previous successes, experience or charisma. In a nutshell, a young person needs someone they can look up to. It’s vital to identify the right managers within organisations to train graduates. Some people are naturally better at it than others, and again they need to believe that putting all this effort into training and developing young individuals will bear fruit in the future. Appoint a wrong mentor and a graduate will leave sooner than you think.
3. Professional development
Ambitious and determined individuals want to learn something new every day. They want to feel that their skill-set and knowledge is constantly improving and developing. They need to believe that they are growing as a professional and that they are moving forward. It’s good to send them on different training courses, but you should also provide really good in-house training. Asking them to do research or work on different projects is a good way of increasing their knowledge and developing their skill-set.
Every young person who has been to university wants to feel that they can progress within an organisation. Many graduates want to progress to a management level as quickly as possible. It’s good to be able to manage these expectations and to let them develop as a professional before they can manage others. Progression doesn’t have to mean becoming a manager though. Being given more responsibility and autonomy is a form of progression too. Many graduates won’t become managers in the future, as very often their personalities wouldn’t suit that path. Their progression might mean that they become specialists within a certain field where others come to rely on their knowledge.
Graduates are full of energy and they want to make an impact. Naturally, they also want to be rewarded for their efforts. It’s vital to conduct regular review meetings which would consider pay increases and other incentives. Waiting all year for a salary review, just as you would normally do with your long-term employees, is not a good practice when it comes to motivating young talent. Also, bonuses should always be achievable and measured/paid regularly. Even with good training, if you fail to reward your graduate their eyes could start to wander. If your graduate moves to work for a competitor, they will be capitalising on your investment.
With so many opportunities out there at the moment, meeting graduates’ expectations and managing their training and development is more vital than ever. No business wants to spend a lot of money on the recruitment, salaries and training of employees that then leave to utilise their newly-acquired skills and make an impact elsewhere. By giving graduates what they are looking for you have a much better chance of getting a return on your investment in these competitive times.
Agnes Butterworth, CEO of Bridgewater Group
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