Tips for Successfully Hiring and Retaining College Graduates

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By Hannah Sullivan

Account Executive

As families celebrate college graduations across the U.S. this month, there’s good news on the job front. Employers plan to hire 26.6 percent more 2022 new graduates than they did from the class of 2021. Members of the 2022 graduating class have spent at least half of their college experience navigating the uncertainty that the pandemic created. Known for their tech-savviness and passion for social and environmental issues, they are now ready to enter the workforce and are searching for employers that can provide them with opportunities for connection, training and professional development, and flexible work options. How can you attract these optimistic and career-ready college grads and retain them as they grow and advance within their careers?

Share your corporate culture and values: Graduates are seeking a strong company culture focused on connection and a positive work environment. 72 percent of graduating seniors feel a business’ culture and values are a make-or-break factor in their job search. Therefore, it’s important to communicate your corporate culture by showcasing what makes your company unique. To help entry-level candidates determine if they will be a good fit within your organization, share your corporate values with them. An employee value proposition (or EVP) can be highlighted—on your website, on job postings, and anywhere potential candidates may be searching—to show graduate prospects all the benefits that your company provides to your employees.

Related: The Importance of a Strong Employee Value Proposition with Examples

Highlight your community involvement initiatives: Of Gen-Zers—aged 10 to 25 in 2022—68 percent feel it’s important for their employer to support a cause they care about including climate change, diversity, and mental health. Highlight your organization’s sustainability, corporate responsibility, community service, and volunteer initiatives in job postings and during interviews.

Communicate growth and development opportunities within your organization: New grads are searching for companies that foster, recognize, and reward hard work. Within the first year on the job,  40 percent of graduating seniors expect a promotion. Early-level talent is looking to their employer to assist them in starting and advancing in their career and it’s important to communicate available training programs and opportunities for growth throughout all stages of the hiring process. If there’s a team member within your organization who has a strong career progression and has benefited from your company’s training program, consider including him or her in the interview to showcase growth opportunities with a real-life example.

Related: Developing a Successful Workforce Upskilling Program

Promote your diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging policies: When asked about job deal breakers, a Monster survey found that 33 percent of recent grads would not accept a job offer at a company without a diverse workforce and 26 percent would turn down an offer from a company that didn’t have women and marginalized groups in top leadership roles. 40 percent of LaSalle Network “What the Class of 2022 Wants” survey respondents reported that one of their top concerns was not feeling a sense of belonging within their team and organization. Be sure to talk about your office environment and department dynamics during the interview process.

Related: 8 Ways to Build an Inclusive Workplace

Related: 4 Benefits of Workplace Diversity-And How to Achieve It

Be transparent regarding compensation: Their expectations may be unrealistic but 40 percent of grads are targeting salaries over $60,000. Therefore, it’s important to be transparent and upfront in your job postings and include salary ranges to prevent unrealistic expectations at the start of the hiring process. Be sure to focus on your total compensation package—beyond salary—to include medical, dental, paid time off, 401K benefits, and any other company perks. Let candidates know that HR is available to explain plan details and answer their questions. Many graduates have been on their parent’s insurance plan and may be unclear about the different options available and how to sign up for them.

Offer flexible hours and remote work opportunities: A TimelyMD survey found that 68 percent of graduating seniors feel that flexible work hours are an important factor when considering a job. The majority (58 percent) prefer a fully in-person work environment, 24 percent would like a hybrid position, and 18 percent want to be fully remote. Communicate any flexible work arrangements and/or 10-hour/4-day work week options your company offers.

Related: Developing a Recruitment Strategy for a Hybrid Workforce

Provide mental health support and benefits: A recent Monster survey found that 91 percent of college grads say it’s important to them to feel comfortable discussing mental health at work and 84 percent of graduates agree that companies as a whole need to invest more in mental health resources to meet their expectations.

Summary

The class of 2022 is entering a candidate-driven labor market with the ability to be more selective than in the past because they know employers are struggling to fill positions. Grads are searching for an organization that aligns with their values, provides them with a sense of belonging, and offers work-life balance. It’s up to employers to communicate and demonstrate—throughout the entire hiring process—how their organization checks all the boxes for these entry-level candidates.

This blog was written by Acara Account Executive Hannah Sullivan.