hiring

5 things business should know about hiring recent college graduates

If there’s one constant in the field of workforce development, it’s change.

Markets change. Opportunities change. Workforces change.

In fact, according to Pew Research, some 10,000 Baby Boomers retire from the U.S. workforce every day. It’s been this way since 2011, and researchers expect the trend to continue until 2030.

This is a massive shift in the U.S. population — especially given the fact that Baby Boomers make up more than 26 percent of the population — and one that is upending the labor force every day, every month, and every year. By the time it runs its course, about 18 percent of the population will be 65 and older.

True, these older adults are working longer. The Population Research Bureau found that, as of 2014, “23 percent of men and about 15 percent of women ages 65 and older were in the labor force, and these levels are projected to rise further by 2022, to 27 percent for men and 20 percent for women.”

The Denver south region has a higher proportion of young people than in Metro Denver and Colorado itself. In fact, 35-54 year olds comprise one-third of the population with only 8.4 percent 65 years and old (as compared to Metro Denver at 10.5% and Colorado overall at 11.4%).

But the simple fact of the matter is that older workers won’t be working forever, and the time is now for the younger generations — Generation X, the Millennials, and yes even the so-called Generation Z (those born between 1995 and 2010) — to step up and take leadership roles in the workforce.

The good news is that hiring among these age groups is on the rise. According to a survey from Michigan State University, hiring overall is up 15 percent year-over-year and that trend is expected to continue into 2019. There’s plenty of work out there for qualified workers.

But there’s a problem.

The market is changing, and hiring today isn’t like it was even 10 years ago. Today’s job market calls for new skills,  new attitudes and a new approach to hiring. Sourcing younger talent can be challenging for many businesses, especially those in legacy industries that are used to a certain type of candidate.

Here are a few things that human resources professionals and business leaders in the Denver South region should keep in mind when hiring recent college graduates and other younger workers.

Leverage local resources: Remember, you aren’t in this alone. Hiring in 2018 isn’t easy, especially given the competition that exists for young talent, but there are resources available to help businesses. Here in the Denver South region, for example, the Arapahoe Douglas Works! Workforce Center offers a variety of programs to connect young professionals with local companies that might be interested in hiring them. Available at no cost to employers, the organization is dedicated to helping businesses meet their recruitment goals, and that includes sourcing talent, offering training programs for potential hires and offering a range of retention services to minimize turnover. And this is just one of the many hiring resources available across Colorado. A full list is available here.

Look beyond the school: When evaluating candidates with limited job histories, it’s natural for hiring managers to look primarily at their education history and academic performance. This is a good place to start for many young hires, but businesses would do well to look beyond the basics when sourcing talent. So much of what young professionals bring to the workplace can be difficult to quantify — familiarity with new technologies, and openness to new ideas, energy and enthusiasm, etc — so businesses would do well not to ignore many of the intangibles that come with hiring fresh college graduates.

Meet them where they live: Digital hiring is no longer a niche part of the market; it’s the whole thing. According to the Society of Human Resource Management, about 80 percent of job seekers are now using online resources and job posting to find work and learn about new opportunities. Online is where hiring happens. But that’s just the beginning. According to Careerbuilder, more than 52 percent of employers are now also using social networking sites to find and research candidates. Smart hiring managers who want to find recent college graduates and other young professionals need to meet them where they’re spending their time and be prepared to craft outreach campaigns that make sense for those channels.

Get comfortable with technology: That said, one of the great things that new graduates can bring it a business is a familiarity with new technology. Knowledge and experience with these tools can lead to new solutions, new processes, and new efficiencies that older workers simply might not know about. But technology is a two-way street. Businesses that advertise their adoption of tech solutions and the opportunities for growth in that area do better at attracting young candidates than those that appear, at least from the outside, to be stuck in an older mindset. Beyond simply using digital platforms to promote openings and conduct the hiring process, business should always be thinking tech first when considering the next generation of talent.

Support them: Almost universally, recent college graduates say they are looking for opportunity in the companies they choose to work for. That’s one reason that, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average Millennial has held more than seven jobs before their 30th birthday. Job hopping is a proven way to advance in their careers. For hiring managers and business leaders, this reality points to the importance of on-the-job training to keep younger employees engaged and growing, as well as formal processes that chart their development through your organization. Putting together a plan that sets milestones, achievement bonuses and progression on a month-by-month basis can help young hires understand how their career will unfold over the next several years with your organization.

Whatever happens, the younger generations are going to become the majority of the workforce in Denver South and beyond before we know it. The time is now to get out ahead of the retirement wave and embrace the future of our local economy.

The Denver South Economic Development Partnership exists to help facilitate this transition for both employers and employees alike. Reach out today to learn more about how we can help.

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