Recruiting in the midst of a candidate-driven market can be extremely challenging for businesses, particularly those in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) industry. Graduate recruitment is a proven strategy that can help innovative organisations gain a competitive edge by hiring the top fresh talent straight out of university.
Every year, universities finish for the summer and a new wave of graduates emerges, but it can be difficult to tie down the top graduates. Some organisations may be sceptical about the value of hiring graduates straight out of university, as it’s widely believed that it costs too much time and money to get them to the level required for the job.
At FDM, we believe that the benefits of employing graduates far outweigh the cons. Let’s explore all the reasons why hiring graduates could benefit your business in 2022.
1. New graduates are ready to mould
Lack of experience is often seen as a drawback for many companies, but when considering candidates, graduates often provide a major advantage. It’s likely going to be their first proper job, which means they can easily be taught and shaped to the business’s needs from the get-go.
New graduates with little experience can often be moulded to do things in a certain way. Changing the habits of more experienced candidates who are already set in their ways can be far more costly and time-consuming for companies than hiring fresh graduates. Graduates also tend to learn skills much faster than non-graduates - a win-win all round!
2. Graduates bring new ideas and fresh perspectives
Some businesses are hesitant to hire graduates because their degrees aren’t always relevant to the industry. However, graduates bring new ideas and fresh perspectives to the mix, which can be invaluable to a company, especially if it faces tough challenges - no matter what they studied at university.
University teaches students to scrutinise processes and ideas with a critical eye, encouraging them to develop new ways of thinking and challenge potentially outdated approaches. This is an essential skill that many businesses could benefit from, but are missing out on. Graduate training programmes are an effective way to introduce new ideas into the business and diversify the team. Organisations with diverse management teams can expect their EBIT margins to be almost 10% higher than those with below-average management diversity.
3. They are up-to-date with the latest technology
With the widening gap in digital skills, it has never been more important for organisations to attract tech-savvy talent. In the UK, SMEs are experiencing an £85 billion productivity gap as a result of a shortage of digital skills.
Millennials in general tend to have a stronger grasp on modern technology due to the ubiquity of technology during their youth. According to data from PEW Research, more than 9-in-10 Millennials own smartphones, compared to 68% of Baby Boomers and 90% of Gen Xers. Hiring graduates who are comfortable with modern technology and are computer-literate can massively boost your business’s efficiency and productivity.
4. Graduates are more adaptable
It’s likely to be their first job, which means that graduates will go above and beyond to impress their employer. This doesn’t mean that graduates will work 60-hour weeks on a 40-hour contract! Graduates are often open to new opportunities, a few extra hours and helping out in any way they can.
University students are well-versed at managing their time, whether that’s changing timetables, spending hours at the library or working towards completing their dissertation. It all contributes to making them more adaptable to change while teaching them how to make the most of their time.
Their lack of commitments at home compared to more experienced employees means that graduates are likely to be more flexible with their free time. So, if there’s a last-minute event, or they are required to travel, graduates are more likely to say yes.
5. They are open to lower salaries
No one wants to earn less than what they think they are worth. But when it comes to new graduates, they are more open to accepting lower salaries in exchange for experience and training on the job. Hiring apprentices also brings many benefits and is an effective alternative to employing graduates, which companies could consider.
With little to no experience, graduates don’t leave university expecting to walk into a job with a huge wage. As long as the salary is competitive for the industry, they will be more open to lower salaries.
If your business can’t find the right candidates, then it may be worth considering hiring graduates on a higher salary. It won’t cost your company’s payroll a huge amount of money, but it will allow you to secure the talent your business requires.
6. New graduates are keen learners
Graduates who are new to the working world will be keen to impress their managers from the offset. They have been studying for years to put themselves in the best possible position in the job market and are highly motivated to prove their worth. The level of commitment required to study for 3 to 4 years is something that businesses can undoubtedly benefit from.
Introducing graduate programmes in 2022 into your business could help bridge the gap between the lack of digital skills and industry-specific knowledge. For example, tech businesses should consider hiring developer graduates or programmer graduates to train on the job. It will benefit the graduates as they get the experience they need to progress in their careers, but it will also help existing employees learn and develop new skills that they may be lacking.
7. Hire graduates on a trial basis
Recruitment can be costly and a huge inconvenience, especially when the chosen candidate doesn’t work out. Graduates are often keen to gain work experience in any way they can and internships offer just that. Whether they are paid or unpaid, internships are the perfect way to see how committed a person is to the job.
Think of it as a sneak preview of how well the candidate will fit into the organisation. If they work well with the team and are committed to their work, then you can look at hiring them on a permanent basis. And if they don’t perform as hoped, then there is no big financial loss to the company once the internship expires.
8. Graduates have transferable skills
Many of the skills that graduates learn at university are transferable to the world of business. Throughout their degree, students are required to collaborate on group projects, create and deliver presentations, write compelling arguments and most importantly, prioritise their workload to meet deadlines on time.
As a result of the recent global pandemic, many students have been forced to become self-motivators and excellent independent learners. Their ability to respond to change positively is a great asset that start-ups, SMEs and global organisations alike can benefit from.
9. New graduates have higher levels of productivity
To succeed in business, candidates require the productivity necessary to thrive in a fast-paced world. Organisations need agile individuals who thrive in agile environments and are capable of learning quickly on their feet. Fresh graduates are not only more adaptable, but they can reach the level of productivity required to get the job done faster than more experienced colleagues.
According to the ISE Student Development Survey 2020, the average graduate employer increases their graduate’s salaries by £11,000 during the first three years of their employment. This is reflective of the value that graduates can bring to an organisation just through their productivity and transferable skills.
10. Future-proof the business with succession planning
For businesses that are facing an ageing workforce and the loss of industry-specific skills, succession planning can offer the perfect opportunity to solve these concerns. Start by outlining a career path for graduates that enables them to reach management level can help future-proof the company. Think of it as an internal recruitment plan for the future.
With the right training and support, graduates have the potential to progress their careers while staying loyal to the business. Remember, some of the world’s biggest CEOs started out as graduates once!
11. Graduate hires have valuable market knowledge
Some industries, like the technology sector, for example, market to younger audiences. Hiring fresh graduates will give businesses the first-hand market knowledge they require to gain a competitive edge. Graduates can help the company understand how it can appeal to its target market and what will make it stand out from its competitors.
12. They offer proven return on investment (ROI)
Graduates can make a significant difference to a company’s bottom line, especially if their ideas and skills are used effectively. Although it may take some time to train graduate recruits in the beginning, they can soon become a very valuable asset to the business. Organisations have the potential to keep graduates throughout the duration of their career, providing the development plan allows them to flourish.
Many employers worry that once the graduate recruit is fully trained, they will leave and so deliver no return on investment. However, this is not the case. According to a survey conducted by the ISE in 2020, graduate retention remains high, despite varying by sector. On average, employers retain 57% of their graduate recruits after five years, with the average length of stay being 4.5 years.
Graduate recruitment offers valuable benefits for businesses of all sizes, from small start-ups to global corporations. Think of graduates as a blank canvas - they can be embedded into your company and be moulded to suit your organisation. There are no bad habits for them to unlearn!
It’s an effective way for companies to diversify not only their teams but also their approaches to problems. University students are continually challenged to think outside the box and come up with innovative solutions, which graduates can translate into the business world. Graduates are a valuable asset to any organisation.