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Hiring College Grads? Find Out What Makes the Class of 2016 Tick

According to CareerBuilder, hiring college grads for entry-level careers will hit its stride this spring with 67 percent of employers saying they plan to hire these bright, young minds. That’s big news, since it marks the highest level for hiring college grads in 10 years.

“In addition to an improving economy, we are beginning to see a rising number of retirements, which is creating more room for advancement and creating opportunities for entry-level candidates,” says Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer for CareerBuilder.

Business and technical jobs are among the most popular entry level careers. Specifically, the top five areas hiring college grads in 2016 are:

  • Business – 35 percent
  • Computer and Information Sciences – 23 percent
  • Engineering – 18 percent
  • Math and Statistics – 15 percent
  • Health Professions and Related Clinical Sciences – 14 percent

Nearly 90 percent of those hiring college grads plan to offer as much or more for a starting salary this year over last year, with nearly 30 percent offering $50,000 or more for entry level positions. Additionally, more than half of these employers plan to make job offers to students before graduation.

And if retention worries nag you, rest assured new professionals are no longer lost, wandering souls. Last year, Accenture found that 74 percent of new college grads expect to be with their first job for at least three years, up from a mere 43 percent of 2014 grads. That trend is likely to continue.

However, cautions Haefner, “Just because there are vacancies, doesn’t mean college students are always ready to fill them.” Employers are concerned that new college grads may not be ready for the real world. These same employers site the following skills as lacking in the newest work generation:

  • Interpersonal or people skills (52 percent)
  • Problem-solving skills (48 percent)
  • Leadership (42 percent)
  • Teamwork (39 percent)
  • Written communication (37 percent)
  • Oral communication (37 percent)
  • Creative thinking (35 percent)
  • Project management (27 percent)
  • Research and analysis (17 percent)
  • Math (15 percent)
  • Computer and technical (14 percent)

But don’t despair. Last year, an Accenture study found about three-quarters of new college graduates said they expect—and are willing and able—to receive formal training in their first job. Only half of 2013 and 2014 graduates reported the same. Another study by Futurestep shows career development opportunities matters more to new job searchers than compensation.

Anne Caldwell, senior human resources manager for HR services outsourcing firm National PEO, recently told that recruiters can motivate this age group in the following ways:

  • Transparent, two-way communication standards and practices that induce a collaborative culture and autonomy among employees.
  • Training, development and mentorship programs.
  • Career-crafting opportunities for employees to develop and shape their roles in a way that allows them to reach their fullest potential while still aiding the best interests of the company.

Sadly, only about half of recent grads report their employer provided any formal training opportunities at all. But many organizations are fixing that by transforming their traditional performance review processes into opportunities for continued learning and growth.

“The traditional performance review process is simply not designed to improve performance or develop employees,” says Kimberly Schaufenbuel, program director for UNC Executive Development. “It was designed to assess past performance to determine an employee’s annual raise and is rooted in a tradition that does not reflect how work gets done today. Today’s work requires goal cycles as short as a month or a week, yet the traditional performance review process remains based on a 12-month cycle.”

While these traditional methods can kill motivation and moral for the entire workforce, Schaufenbuel adds the trend to more real-time training and management is being demanded by Millennials who place a premium on communication, continued learning and career growth.

In her research, Schaufenbuel points out several companies that made the switch. Adobe introduced a new performance management system called “Check In” three years ago, which allows managers to give informal, on-going, real-time feedback to employees. GE recently announced they were going to eradicate all formal annual reviews in favor of a less regimented system. The new system encourages more frequent feedback and coaching by managers.

Are you hiring college grads this year? What are you looking for in those seeking entry level careers? And are you having trouble finding it? Let us know!


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