I’ve hired hundreds of college graduates in my life, most directly out of college with little or no work experience. Today, however, it’s rare that a college grad has no experience, as most students realize a degree alone isn’t enough to get a job in their preferred industry. What I liked most about new grads was their enthusiasm and willingness to learn. Plus, I loved being able to inspire young adults to have the same passion I do for my industry.
When I hired new grads, how did I know I was getting what I was hoping for? I could tell you it was all about my gut feeling and getting the right “vibe” and that my hunches about people are usually right, but that wouldn’t be very helpful. So here are a few tips to help you hire a recent college graduate who will be the right fit for your small business.
- Be honest in your job ads. If you’re seeking a college graduate, you’re not filling a job that requires only answering phones and filing paperwork. On the other hand, even a job that requires sophisticated skills may occasionally require some “grunt work.” Be honest about what the day-to-day duties entail and give as much detail as you can about the responsibilities so job applicants aren’t disappointed when they get hired. Include hours required, starting salary, the direct supervisor, where the job fits into your company structure, and whether there is room for advancement. There should be no surprises once the candidate comes to the interview.
- Clarify location issues. College grads today are used to working virtually and getting assignments online. That opens up a whole new world of possible candidates for your business. If you don’t need the person to be in your office every day or you can’t find the talent you want in your city, assess whether telecommuting could work for this job. As long as you have a system in place for project management and you can clearly convey what you expect from remote employees, the ability to telecommute is a highly desirable perk that almost any new college grad would love.
- Emphasize your company culture. Don’t try to hide that you’re a small business or come off like a big corporation. The best match for your business is a college grad who’s interested in working for a small business, so be real! Many grads welcome the challenges of being able to see all aspects of business operations and working closely with decision makers. Play up your small size, your informal culture, and anything else that makes your business special.
- Encourage ideas. Probably my favorite part of hiring a recent college grad is being able to mine their brains for fresh ideas, which most of them are always willing to share. Try going beyond the standard job interview by giving a pre-interview assignment. For example, you could ask candidates to come up with new ideas for your social media marketing, product line, or anything else that relates to the job they’re applying for. Once the candidate is hired, be sure to keep that same energy going by creating an open-door policy and encouraging everyone to share new ideas.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva's free TrendCast reports.