The 2019 graduates are about to take the workforce by storm. If you’ve been struggling to find the right employees in this tight talent market, this is good news. But how willing are you to consider candidates who are fresh out of college or high school?
According to an in-depth survey by the Chronicle of Higher Education, 44% of employers value experience over pure academics. Respondents indicated that the following attributes were most important to them:
- Internships – 23%
- Employment during school – 21%
- Degree – 13%
- Volunteer experience – 12%
- Extracurricular activities – 10%
- Relevance of coursework – 8%
- Academics – 8%
- College reputation – 5%
Surprisingly, the college, coursework and grades aren’t priorities for many leaders. Work experience (even if it isn’t relative to the job) is more important. Why? Most likely because it shows that people understand how to work on a team and have an understanding of what it means to show up daily, follow processes and meet expectations.
Without that kind of experience, even the smartest candidates from the top ivy leagues schools could struggle to acclimate. They most definitely will need a longer learning curve.
So what does it mean for you? If you can shift the way you think about the job and applicants, it offers you a broader pool of talent from which to find new employees. Follow this advice:
Rethink how you view candidates
For starters, broaden your idea of what is an ideal candidate. Many managers make the mistake of being dazzled by a fancy college and GPA. While those candidates may be outstanding, it’s not guaranteed.
Look beyond the college and focus on work, extracurricular and volunteer experience. For example, a candidate who played on a soccer team since age six, shows devotion. One who has volunteered for Habitat for Humanity for five years shows a commitment to a cause. The candidate who held an after-school job all through high school, but didn’t attend college, could have a level of independence and maturity that college grads who never worked don’t yet possess.
As you start vetting resumes, keep your mind open, focus on the whole picture, rather than focusing on one criteria.
Rewrite your job ads
Your job ads could be preventing some stellar candidates from applying, so consider doing away with some of the arbitrary requirements you set for job positions. For example, is a college degree critical? Does the job actually require specific expertise developed through coursework?
In addition to technical requirements, think about the personality traits and the experiences you want employees to have had. For example, in your job description, you could say “We want to hire a self-starter, who is a creative thinker and problem solver. Must have experience working on a team.” Then during interviews you could ask candidates to provide insight on those skills.
Look for the right attributes during interviews
Increasingly, leaders are worried that new graduates lack the soft skills critical for the workplace. Skills, such as communication, leadership, critical thinking and problem solving, are often more important to employees’ long-term success than technical skills. Focus on determining if employees possess those skills during interviews. You can always train employees to take on specific tasks, but teaching them soft skills is much more difficult.
Ultimately, the more open you are, the better your chances of finding the perfect person for your team. As you parse resumes, make sure you are focusing on the big picture.