The Class of 2016: Set the Expectations to Prepare them for Greatness

It’s that time of year again – the heart rates of new grads are pumping as they look towards their future, and the heart rates of campus recruiters are jumping as they reach out to connect with a new wave of prospects. When they meet in the middle, a disconnect between reality and expectation ensues.

The divide between the expectations of the Class of 2016 versus the realities leaves recruiters with two options: an opportunity to explore and educate or to fail both the grad and company.

What do new grads want? The Accenture Strategy 2015 U.S. College Graduate Employment Study reveals telling data. 82% of the Class of 2016 research the job market before choosing their major, 74% expect to be with their first employer for at least 3 years, 85% desire to work for smaller companies in non-traditional sectors and 77% expect that their employer will provide on-the-job training that will help them progress in their career.

The reality? Only 64% of grads from the previous two years ended up working in their chosen fields, with 49% of grads claiming they are underemployed, 41% are earning $25,000 or less a year, and only 53% reported that they received on-the-job training. It’s a far cry from their expectations.

Knowing such facts, recruiters are put in a unique position where they can: 1) explore the expectations of the new grad and educate them on what they should actually be expecting, and 2) educate their employers and clients on these expectations and offer solutions to help them meet/compromise on some of these expectations.

For most grads, their first job dictates the rest of their career, and they feel the weight of that decision looming over them. Walking around a career fair where they are bombarded with campus recruiters isn’t the most ideal situation to make decisions. Many new grads are not yet able to articulate what they are good at, what skills they have to offer, and how they will fit within a company’s culture. Pulling this information out of them in a five minute conversation is next to impossible.

The elevator pitch and that brief conversation usually gets left behind at the career fair. With the exception of the few savvy networkers, your new database of bare-boned resumes gets stale pretty quick. Offer them something more; offer them an engaging relationship where they can stay connected with your organization and showcase all those skills they didn’t ever have a chance to tell you about. Involve them in your world, provide them information they want to know, pique their curiosity, and give them the opportunity to share their knowledge. Build a talent community for new grads where you can vet your prospects, provide pre-onboarding training, and set clear what life at your company will look like.

Welcoming new grads into such a community builds the relationship and develops affinity before they are even considered for a role. Help them make the right decision in making their first career move by educating them. When the time comes for you to move your ideal members forward into the candidate category, they are informed and educated about your business and their expectations are more aligned with reality.

Keep a pulse on what new grads expect and slow their racing heartbeats through transparency and engagement. Keep the lines of communication open to build long term and engaged relationships that can lead to prosperous careers.

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