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Make your next hire a graduate

Each year, a fresh batch of students finish their studies and start looking for work. Harness the best of a graduate, by understanding:

  • their needs
  • what they’re looking for in an employer.

This will help you attract quality candidates and get your new hire settled in quickly.

Attract and keep graduates

It’s better to have too many quality applicants for a job than too few. So it’s a good idea to make your vacancy as appealing as possible. This doesn’t mean trying to offer the highest salary. It’s about understanding what possible candidates will want from their job and their employer.

Every potential employee looks for something slightly different from a job. The online job listings company SEEK has conducted research into what attracts New Zealand jobseekers, and what keeps them happy once in a role.

Many new graduates looking for work are millennials (ages 22-37) or Gen Zers (ages 16-24). SEEK’s data shows the factors most important to them are:

  • career development opportunities
  • work with meaning and impact
  • work/life balance
  • job security.

“Think about what you can offer new recruits,” says Mereana Hawthorn, SEEK’s Recruiter and SME Business Manager. “Career development is the number one driver for graduate candidates. They look for mentoring opportunities and sponsored study opportunities.”

Employers and tech sector graduates (external link) — Careers NZ

Talk about the support and care that’s offered in your business when a new employee begins, and let them know they will be set up for success.

“We were all in our first job at some point,” says Hawthorn. “We owe it to graduates and new hires to give them the best start they can have. It will help them establish their career while also supporting the success of your business.”

Talent acquisition tips (external link) — SEEK

Career development

More than any other career stage, graduates want to see how they will progress with your business. SEEK’s research shows 76% value good leaders and mentors.

To meet this need, think about how you can provide:

  • Mentoring — this is particularly important in the first months to help new employees settle in.
  • A training programme with regular coaching, assessment and feedback opportunities.

“Mentoring a graduate helps them adjust to your workplace faster,” says Amanda Pickett of careers.govt.nz. “It also helps build morale in your workplace as it gives your staff opportunities to lead.”

Meaning and impact

Graduates want to feel their job has meaning. 67% say being happy at work is more important than how much they earn, according to SEEK. "Create meaning and a sense of impact by giving them autonomy and responsibility for certain tasks or projects. Talk to them about how their work fits into wider strategies of the business," says Amanda Pickett of careers.govt.nz. "Let them know why they are asked to do something and how it relates to the big picture."

Work-life balance

This group will work hard, but also want to find a balance between their work and personal lives. Many graduates value flexible working arrangements.

Any employee can ask for flexible working arrangements at any time. This means new hires, and people who already work for you. As an employer, you have a duty to consider their request. Flexible working can include:

  • shorter hours
  • flexible hours
  • working remotely.

The location of their workplace is also important to this group. Most don’t want a huge commute.

It’s a good idea to document your policy on flexible work for all your employees.

It’s a good idea to document your policy on flexible work for all your employees.

Use our online tool to create a policy that suits your business and pick up tips along the way.

Flexible work policy (external link) — Workplace Policy Builder

Despite the benefits of bringing new graduates on board, there are risks with any new employee. Some employers might think it’s risky to hire a grad or not worth the investment of time and energy. These concerns can be unwarranted or easily solved with simple strategies.

Common myths about hiring grads

Myth
Training and mentoring takes too much time and energy.

Reality
Graduates know how to learn and can pick up things quickly. Mentoring might just be 10 minutes a day and can provide senior staff with leadership opportunities.

Myth
After investing time and energy, the grad could up and leave.

Reality
While it’s true many millennials and Gen Zers don’t expect to stay in a role more than five years, meeting their career progression needs and providing meaningful work can reduce turn over.

Another major worry for employers is mistakes caused by a lack of experience. To prevent this from happening:

  • Be clear on what you need from them. Before the grad starts, know exactly what tasks and responsibilities they will do. Make this clear to them. Don’t assume they know what you need from them straight away.
  • Be approachable. New employees may be intimidated at first. Tell your grad the process for asking questions or communicating when something goes wrong. When they do come to you, encourage this behaviour by responding appropriately.
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