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The ultimate guide to hiring new grads

The ultimate guide to hiring new grads

A new crop of motivated grads is now finally finished school and ready to take on the career world.

They’re looking to graduate to a great new job, and your job is to captivate the best and the brightest—that’s if you want to succeed and grow your business.

But if you’re not differentiating yourself from other industry players, you could lose that dream employee to a competitor.

It’s about showing young top-shelf talent that your company is the right fit for them. Your number one priority is to convince them that joining your company will help them reach their career goals.

Get those great Gen Z grads on your team with these smart hiring tactics.


Set up an employee referral system

Establish an employee referral program that provides an incentive for referring candidates. “One of the leading management consultancies determined that their best hires came from internal referrals,” says Peter Caven, managing director at launched.careers. “They know what works and are taking a risk in making a referral and will only refer good candidates.” The incentive does not have to be monetary— it could be something like a couple of extra days off, dinner or a learning experience.


Use social media to your advantage

Be visible. This talent pool is on every platform, and you need to be present with a consistent message, primed with your values, culture and brand across the board. Candidates are searching you out before accepting interviews. Everyone is a candidate all the time, so your employer brand should extend beyond recruitment marketing and into your entire brand experience, even consumer-facing.

Consider creating an employee social media strategy by using a platform like Bambu. Having employees raving socially about your company is good for business and great for teams.

For more attention, Caven recommends getting on lists like Best Companies for Millennials, Companies with the Best Career Development Paths, Leading Socially Responsible Companies, and others. Be a winner on Canada’s Top 100 Workplaces.


Go where the grads are 

Search out top graduates in specific university programs—use the convocation programs which are easily found, Caven says. “Look for the top PhDs, MScs, MEngs, or undergrads in specific programs. See who won academic prizes, community service prizes, and other awards.” 

In addition, he recommends sponsoring events for specific programs at specific universities, for example, math students at MIT. “Career centres will help coordinate these activities. Have a speaker, a noted expert, who the students will be interested in listening to. Then take names, provide company information, and stay in touch with attendees even if they won’t graduate for a couple of years.”


Lighten the application process

Ensure that the application process is a reflection of your culture. Don’t make the process impersonal, difficult, or degrading, says Beverly Beuermann-King, workplace wellness coach and founder of worksmartlivesmart.com. 

“Allow them to bring their personality into the process and to talk to a real person about the job as they consider applying.” Many grads can be put off by a negative and cumbersome application experience before you even have a chance to highlight the exceptional programs and perks that you have.


Provide exceptional candidate experiences

The candidate experience is more critical now than ever, and companies are engaging candidates from the jump, says Jason Kipps, managing director of Universum Canada, which collects talent market insights and manages Canada’s largest and longest-running campus career interest survey

“Brands like Adidas, Heineken and EY all provide exceptional candidate experience programs. Adidas focuses on their ‘talent tribe’ and leverages their consumer brand. They recognize that their customers are also their candidates and leverage a cool factor in their recruitment marketing.”

Heineken has gamified the candidate experience and augmented it with virtual reality, says Kipps. Toyota provides candidates with an opportunity to make decisions about production and assembly and is then greets candidates by way of a virtual sensei that helps them to learn from their decisions and improve while still at the candidate stage. 

“We have seen some employers even appoint candidate concierges to help guide high-potential student applicants through the application process and ensure they are well prepared for interviews.”

The best candidate experiences are innovative and compelling but also provide the applicant with a true understanding of what the job, the environment and the culture will be like if selected, Kipps adds. “This helps the wrong candidates self deselect and makes for hires that are a better cultural fit and are more likely to stay and perform.”


Put your people first

Be kind, human and accommodating. Universum’s Career Test student survey reveals that “a warm, friendly work environment and supportive leaders were consistently identified among the most important employer characteristics for student candidates looking to make their first big career decision,” says Kipps.

Especially in these trying times, those employers that present as human with a demonstrated commitment to the health and comfort of their employees are emerging as leaders, adds Kipps.

“We are seeing some leading employers like Scotiabank transition to completely remote onboarding programs for new hires. Other employers are doing virtual meet-your-future- boss hang-out sessions. Labatt has been getting a great reception from their future talent by hosting virtual ‘beer chats’ which provide students with an opportunity to connect to their future employer in a very real and human way.” 


Invest in their career development  

Differentiating yourself through formal talent development programs is integral to getting attention and enhancing workplace engagement, says Beuermann-King. “Talk about their first-day welcome, the onboarding and job shadowing process, and career path development programs offered. New grads want to know that there is an investment in their growth.”


Be mindful of company culture

To attract top talent, highlight your workplace culture and health support programs. “Focus on your unique programs that support their need to belong, have balance, and stay healthy,” says Beuermann-King. Show that you have the technology and resources to support them in doing their job. Offer a generous vacation package and flexible work arrangements. “Two weeks vacation is not going to cut it. Many new grads say that they are willing to take a slightly lower salary for more time off.”


Consider a temporary start

Offering full-time employment right off the bat isn’t the only route to go. How about opting for a temporary arrangement? “As a career coach, I’m seeing that students are more willing to take on freelance or project work—especially if they feel like it’s meaningful work,” says Sarah Johnston, a job search strategist and founder of briefcasecoach.com. 

This can be a great way to test-drive candidates before making a hire. In addition, it offers seekers the opportunity to get work experience and see if there’s a good fit with the company.


Know your audience and what motivates them

The bottom line: Recruiting is selling. Identify your target audience. Kipps says to ask yourself: What do they want? What motivates them? Who else are they considering working for, and what are you up against? “Do your research or partner with a firm like Universum to access the feedback being collected on campus from your candidates. Otherwise, you’re just guessing.” The key to success is understanding what is important to your candidates and how to reach them with the right “thumb-stopping” message and content.

Finding top talent for your team doesn’t have to be a struggle. From posting a job and searching resumes to branding your company, Monster can help you hire great new grads to grow your business.