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Hiring Green Graduates

May is a time of year where we shed off the drab winter blues and look forward to the warmth of springtime.  May is also a time for college graduation and students hoping to start a career in their primary field of study.  It is estimated by The National Center for Education Statistics that roughly 2.8 million students will graduate with a bachelor’s degree or higher in 2019.  For employers this is an untapped market of bright, new talent; however, most of these individuals will not have enough on-the-job experience to qualify for jobs in their field of study. That begs the question, how do you as a small business, tap into this talent pool knowing that these graduates may not have internships or relevant job experience?

Here are a few tips to navigate the waters of the Green Graduate:

  • Create an internship or externship program.
    Provide opportunities where students and graduates can obtain on-the-job (OJT) training in their degree program. By creating these types of programs, individuals can get their foot in the door and showcase their talent, while you have the opportunity to evaluate the individual on their merits. When setting up an internship or externship, be sure that it is legally compliant with Department of Labor (DOL) guidelines.
  • Determine if certain job requirements can be reduced or if coursework and projects can be considered as experience.
    Some job postings are identified as entry-level positions only to require that the individual must have some experience.  Try to be loose in what you identify as years of experience. In some cases, especially in the IT arena, there are bright and rising stars in the field who have completed numerous courses and projects that could potentially be counted towards meeting the experience requirement.
  • Be thorough in your interviewing.
    Successfully interviewing candidates is the key to any good hiring practice. Be especially thorough with green graduates, as  you are taking a chance with someone who might not have enough experience or track record in doing the job.  Get to know the candidate and learn what their career ambitions might be, as well as their overall maturity level.  By gauging their ambition and maturity level, you’ll be able to assess if the candidate is ready to make the jump from college grad to being part of the professional workforce.
  • Once hired, provide training.
    Regardless of where you are in your career, it is necessary to consistently attend training and development programs simply because technology or best practices are changing at a rapid pace. This is especially important for the green graduate. Providing OJT will allow the employee to acclimate to the industry and provide opportunities to network with other professionals. Additionally, OJT will also help you as an employer, guide the green graduate to success in a demanding career.

BOOST knows GovCon HR and recruiting and how to incorporate new graduates into your staff We function as a boutique recruiting firm, with customized, targeted recruiting efforts for your billable positions, C-suite or corporate positions. We also help companies build a culture where employees want to work. If you need HR or recruiting guidance email [email protected]

Forced Promotion

Did you fall into management? Were you rewarded for your technical skills with the extra bonus of now having direct reports? This cycle happens time and time again where folks excel at their trade. Generally, very few people are asked if they want the additional responsibility of a leadership role or guiding a team. Even fewer are given any training on how to be a good manager. Instead, they are given timesheet approval responsibilities, a list of when performance reviews are due and told to make the team work. There’s no Cliff Notes or Management 101 class for how it’s done and most learn via on-the-job experience. A trial by fire, if you will.

As small organizations grow, the scenario above becomes more normal than unique. This is dangerous for several reasons. First and foremost, it takes a brilliant, high-achiever away from the thing they do best and forces them to spend time on tasks they may not enjoy. Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t always the case. There are some people that want the additional management responsibilities and enjoy managing a team. If that’s the case, good grief, encourage it! Yet in many cases, it’s a technical engineer or high-tech professional who enjoys their trade and wants to spend more time doing it, not less.

This is also a dangerous move as these types of managers may not have the instincts to follow employment laws, cultivate a team or build morale. Those traits can be gained through experience, but only if the participant wants to. Many times, the management piece filed under “other duties as assigned” and those who are not prone to leadership are less likely to spend time improving their skills in this area. This leads to issues within the team and potentially putting the company in legal risk (unintentionally). Thus creating more problems where a simple conversation, gauging the interest of your team and gleaning appropriate leaders from the ranks may have avoided many issues.

If you are a technical company, I recommend you seek out those who are keen to manage and have the skills or drive to learn. Encourage this and build from there. For those who don’t, allow them to continue to climb in their careers, but do so with the top cover support from managers who understand their talents. Micro-managing a highly technical person is a recipe for disaster. Instead, hire leaders who respect and understand the technical expertise. In return, they will win the respect of the techies.

Happy Techies, Happy Leaders, Happy Company… for the most part.

When it comes time for you to seek new leadership for your teams- invest in reviewing skill sets, employee goals and find the best fit on paper and in person for the needs of your company. Want to learn more? I’d be happy to throw some pointers your way! [email protected]

Gut

“Have faith in your intuition and listen to your gut feeling.” Ann Cotton

Ask any CEO, and 90%+ will tell you that their biggest hurdle is people. Hiring the right team, making sure they play well together in the sandbox, work together to meet the mission, and generally push the company forward. The dynamics of a strong, diverse team are invaluable in the progression of your company. So how do you hire the right person? Do you rely on proven experience, or do you go with your gut?

There is plenty of written work around the topic of hiring. Some companies have it down to a science (think alphabet or apple). Most small businesses are lucky to have a standard process, much less something that is consistent and does a good job of screening candidates. Many folks at this stage “go with your gut” and hire specifically based on personality and how the candidate did in the interview.

How effective is this and how detrimental can it be to your company should your gut be off? Depending on your policies, you may be required to excessively retrain, mentor and closely monitor a subpar new hire. The damage to your established team could be expensive regarding time, mindset and resources.

For me, some of my best hires have been based on a combination of experience and/or the right personality traits. The right balance between the two is paramount. For example, is your accounting candidate detailed oriented? Do they have typos on their resume? If so, not a good indicator. I’ve hired folks without any specific industry experience, but they had the right personality and were willing to learn. Personality is just as important as any experience, especially when joining a small team. How well candidates can play with others is one of the key factors, and in my opinion, should be weighed more heavily than experience.

With that said, another key factor when considering a new hire is diversity, specifically, diversity of thought and opinion. If you surround yourself with folks who have the exact same background and exact same experience as you, you’ll wind up with total agreement, and stagnation. Total agreement doesn’t challenge you as a CEO, nor does it advance your company.  You need people on your team who will appropriately question your path, question the standard and most importantly, take issue with the soul-wrenching, “but we’ve always done it this way.” Hire folks that push you to be a stronger business leader, and your company will be much improved as a result.

Your gut is an important part of your hiring process as we often notice red flags subconsciously. Yet it behooves us to remember to include careful consideration of experience, personality, and diversity. While you’re refining your hiring process, you may want to consider a hiring audition to uncover some candidate characteristics often unseen in an interview. If you’re interested in revamping your policy on hiring, seek out the advice experts in your field as what may work for Apple may not work for you.

For expertise in GovCon regarding hiring, recruiting and human resources, contact BOOST LLC. www.BOOSTLLC.net