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Hiring Recent College Graduates: Are They Worthy Candidates?

  • Human Resources
  • Article
  • 6 min. Read
  • Last Updated: 03/15/2017

Hiring recent college graduates.
Job candidates fresh out of college present opportunities and challenges to small business owners. Take a look at some of the pros and cons of hiring recent graduates.

Table of Contents

Business owners may often ponder the benefits and drawbacks of hiring recent college graduates—certainly there are plenty of them, many of whom are bright, talented, ambitious, and so on. In a landscape where it seems continuously difficult to attract and recruit qualified job seekers for open positions, perhaps you may opt to draw on these candidates who are hungry for employment.

As any business that actively recruits recent college grads will tell you, there are many potential benefits.

Benefits of Hiring a Recent College Graduate

They Are Often Ambitious

Many individuals are driven to make a mark in their first position after college in their chosen field. Recent college graduates can be passionate and committed to doing work that has meaning for them. Often they’re amenable to being molded to fit your company culture and can quickly learn the values and mission your company lives by.

They Are Often Tech-Savvy

It’s safe to say that the vast majority of this talent pool better understands digital technology, making them an appealing resource in terms of being able to hit the ground running where web-based applications and social media are concerned.

Disadvantages of hiring a recent College Graduate

They May Have Unrealistic Expectations

With the understanding these are generalized statements only, some recent college graduates may have unrealistic expectations about getting a high-paying job right out of the gate. This can lead to an impulse to hop from one open position to another, thinking that sooner or later they’ll land on the “ideal” job.

Since many college graduates have “little or no experience building a resume, they may not realize that they should stay with a company for more than two years to look stable to their next boss,” note business authors Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey. There’s also the “greener pastures complex,” in which new employees “may not realize how good they have it at their first job, which may lead them to quit early” for a job with higher pay, better benefits, better work/life balance, for or similar reasons.

They Often Lack Experience, But Can Be Overconfident

Recent college graduates of any age may have little to no experience working in the real world; nonetheless, they may appear overconfident about their qualifications.  Their secondhand knowledge of the business world may lead them to think they already know what’s needed to succeed at a company. 

A Short Track Record of Effective Decision-Making and Working as Part of a Team

An employer should consider the potential risk of hiring individuals who have yet to demonstrate they can make good decisions under pressure or work in a collaborative spirit alongside other employees. Is there room in your company for making mistakes while learning on the job?

Is there room in your company for making mistakes while learning on the job

If, after weighing these factors, you decide on hiring recent college grads, you may have a better chance of success by being proactive in your hiring methods.

Proactive Hiring Methods

Vet the Best Candidates 

Structure the interview so that the focus is on the job seeker's qualifications and knowledge. It's possible some of their academic experience dovetails with aspects of your business; find out how they did in those areas. You can also gauge their level of interest by determining how much advance research they did on your business prior to speaking with you.

Give Them a Challenge 

Depending on the position, pose a hypothetical challenge to the candidate and see how well they answer. Even if it's not the precise response you're looking for, you'll get a good sense of how well they think on their feet.

Get a Sense of Their Potential Fit 

Asking open-ended questions and digging a little deeper than usual can offer a clearer idea of how well a particular candidate might fit into your company culture. With college graduates who are short on experience, this may be a key indicator of whether or not you should bring them on board.

Employers shouldn’t rule out any demographic of job seekers based on negative preconceptions. A recent college graduate might be the perfect choice for your next job opening. It's certainly worth exploring the opportunity to assess all potential candidates.


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* This content is for educational purposes only, is not intended to provide specific legal advice, and should not be used as a substitute for the legal advice of a qualified attorney or other professional. The information may not reflect the most current legal developments, may be changed without notice and is not guaranteed to be complete, correct, or up-to-date.

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