It’s that time of year again. Graduates across the country are diving head first into the job market and looking for that first step into what they hope will be a long and successful career…
Of course graduate or not, that’s what everyone is hoping for when they start out in the working world, which for many employers begs the question: Why would you want to employ someone who played rugby and beer pong for the last three years over a candidate that’s the same age but with additional full-time employment experience? OK, so I’m drawing in broad strokes; but as someone who’s recently graduated I can confirm that those types of students exist. And I encountered more than a few who are even less suited to work than that…
This point of view is reflected in the figures. In 2013 the Office for National Statistics found that 47% of recent graduates (defined as having graduated between 2008 and 2013) were working in jobs that did not require a degree, up from 39% in the period before – meaning that almost one in every two graduates was unable to find a position suited to their qualification. In response to these figures an Incomes Data Services report earlier this month indicated that businesses were planning to massively increase the amount of graduates they hire this year, with an increase of as much as 18% on last years’ figures. The finance industry will put the most faith in the recently qualified, increasing graduate employment by an enormous 42%.
As the annual cycle of certificate wielding job-hunters starts up once again, I’m going to outline five reasons why a box-fresh graduate could be the right choice for your business…
1. Fresh Thinking
University teaches a range of theoretical and practical lessons, both in the classroom and in a live working environment thanks to placements and work experience. It’s this educated understanding blended with real world application that gives graduates a conceptual edge over non-graduates, which isn’t to say that practical experience is invaluable at all – rather that for a different approach to the role, that’s less constrained by preconceptions of what might or might not work, a graduate is the way to go.
2. No Baggage
Most graduates are looking for their first career role when they leave university and that affords you the opportunity to absorb the best available talent directly into your work culture. Graduates arrive with no preconceived ideas about how a business should be run or what can or can’t be done, and so should quickly adapt to your business’ way of working. Of course that itself is a responsibility, but then you have a duty to all of your staff anyway – and since you’re a moral and ethical employer, that won’t be a problem.
3. Proven ROI
Good ideas and a positive attitude are some factors to consider when it comes to employing graduates, but the bottom line is just as important – and that’s where graduates carry a huge advantage. A 2011 NHS report found that graduates on their trainee scheme generated savings of £74,000 over a five year period, and an earlier study by Lancaster University Management School found that within three years of launching a graduate recruitment scheme, employers would see a return of £5.30 for every £1 invested. The initial outlay for a graduate may be slightly more, but the return makes it all worthwhile.
4. Solid Skills
Years of structuring essays and learning critical thinking typically gives graduates well developed verbal and non-verbal communication skills, along with an ability to analyse data and tackle problems in a structured, logical way. And whilst a degree directly related to your industry is ideal, if there’s no direct correlation it’s still not necessarily a deal breaker – as long as the graduate can demonstrate transferable skills. For example your business may not require a functioning knowledge of 19th Century Gothic Literature, but the ability to analyse dense texts quickly combined with strong grammatical skills might be ideal for your proofreading requirements.
5. Highly Motivated
The ‘real world’ hasn’t had the chance to knock the stuffing out of most graduates yet… And if you fulfil your role as an employer, it may never do so. Good graduates have spent the last three years working solidly towards the career that they want to do, refining their talents and abilities towards the specific role that they’re after. If you can facilitate this career path and harness your graduate’s career interests into your business, you will have a motivated, driven and loyal employee.
Of course there are many graduates that don’t help themselves (see the rugby and beer pong example), either by continuing to study in a field that they no longer have any interest in, or by not showing the dedication to their industry that you would expect, or simply by not studying hard enough. It happens, and not everyone is lucky enough to know what they want to do the minute they get out of education. However if your business is approached by a graduate with a decent degree and some idea of what they want to achieve from their working life, and you can provide a solid opportunity and a clear career path, you will likely find your investment rewarded.