What is the Class of 2015 Looking For in an Employer? 3 Things You Need to Know...

Posted by Cathy Reilly

bigstock-Class-Of---Grunge-Retro-Red-89610455Tassels were moved, hats were thrown, and members of the class of 2015 officially entered the workforce. That’s great news for hiring managers and recruiters looking for new talent, right?

Only if you know what the latest crop of job seekers wants in an employer and how to give it to them.

Traditionally, large companies across all industries have cornered the “hiring recent graduates” market by offering competitive salaries and exciting benefits to woo the best talent no matter their major.

Hiring today’s recent graduates won’t be so easy. According to the 2015 Accenture College Graduate Employment Survey, only 15 percent of recent graduates want to work for large organizations and 82 percent spent time researching the job market before choosing a major.

The class of 2015 graduates know what they want and who they want to work for.

Whether you’re a big company interested in hiring recent graduates or a smaller company hoping to capitalize on the class of 2015’s disinterest in “going big,” here are three things the class of 2015 is looking for in an employer and how to make sure your company delivers:

1. Recent graduates expect training opportunities.

Members of the class of 2015 want on-the-job training so they can grow professionally and make an impact where they work.[click to tweet] However, while 77 percent of recent graduates in Accenture’s survey expect this kind of training, only 50 percent of 2013-2014 graduates say they’re getting it.

Hiring recent graduates could be difficult if your organization fails to put an emphasis on its talent development strategies. For recent graduates, formal job training signifies an organization’s willingness to invest time and resources into their professional development. More than that, they value organizations that help them grow and see formal job training and professional development as key to a successful career.

How to deliver: The easiest way to deliver on this expectation is to develop a robust training program. And, that begins with orientation. Here is where new hires get their first taste of the company’s training. It also makes an impression about a company’s commitment in the employee’s education. Create an orientation program that excites new hires, helps them learn the basics, and gives them a road map for their professional growth.

But don’t stop there. Once the orientation and onboarding process ends, provide a professional development plan and  learning opportunities so your employees are constantly growing. By emphasizing training and professional development programs, it will be easier to attract and hire recent graduates to your company.

2. Recent graduates want meaningful work.

What is the typical entry-level position at your organization like? Could someone without a college degree succeed in the position? Unfortunately, recent graduates across the country have found this to be the case. 

Don’t believe it? Forty-nine percent of the 2013-2014 graduates surveyed by Accenture admitted to working in a position that did not require a college degree -- a trend that’s increased since 2011.

Recent graduates want more responsibility at work, and they’re more willing to wait until they find a position that provides that. In fact, 45 percent of recent graduates said they’d rather work for a small to mid-sized company or startup. Why? Because smaller organizations tend to give recent graduates more responsibility, faster.

How to deliver: Successfully hiring recent graduates in this job market means making some changes to the roles and responsibilities you’re offering in entry-level positions. Consider whether the recent graduates you pursue will think the positions you’re offering are challenging and meaningful. If not, find ways to increase the responsibilities associated with those roles.

Not a possibility? Communicate with recent graduates early in the hiring process about advancement opportunities and how they’ll earn more responsibility within the organization over time. In either case, be sure to obtain regular feedback from your new hires on how they are gauging the meaningfulness of their work. Knowing that you are aware of their perspective and the insight you will learn from their comments holds great value in retooling things where you can.

3. Recent graduates care about where they work.

While many believe Millennials to be job hoppers who only care about the money, Accenture’s survey results suggest otherwise. Surprisingly, 74 percent of recent graduates expect to be with their first company for at least three years, and 33 percent expect to make it five years or more.

When it comes to where they work, 60 percent of the class of 2015 and 69 percent of the 2013 and 2014 grads surveyed said they would rather work in a positive environment for a lower salary than take a higher salary with a company that’s less enjoyable.

Clearly, recent graduates are focusing more on quality of life and work-life balance than on salary, at least early in their careers. They want more responsibility at work and for work to be more than just a job -- they want it to be an enjoyable part of their lives for years to come.

How to deliver: Hiring recent graduates can be a solid talent growth strategy for organizations who want to invest in the future. Remember, recent graduates want to work in a positive work environment, so it’s important to highlight what makes your organization a great place to work.

Capture the class of 2015’s attention by highlighting your company’s social awareness initiatives or community outreach programs. Use these as an example of the positive impact recent graduates can have at your organization.

As you prepare to start hiring the class of 2015, remember to think small. Take advantage of your organization’s resources to show this new class of candidates that you are interested in their growth and care about their career goals, the work environment and the community.

What strategies do you have for delivering on the class of 2015’s employer expectations? Does your organization have a strategy in place for hiring recent graduates? Share your thoughts in the comments below! 

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