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What to Expect when Recruiting this Year’s College Grads

Posted by Aaron Green  April 19, 2009 11:40 AM

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This year’s class of college graduates will face their share of challenges in this new employment market. What can employers expect when hiring from the class of 2009 and what is the best way to approach recruiting this year’s college graduates?

Greater Availability of Candidates
One of the clear advantages of the current job market for employers is that the availability of candidates is greater. In particular, statistics have shown that employers in this recession have been less apt to let go of older, more seasoned employees and cut loose the less experienced crowd. In a survey conducted by the National Association for Colleges and Employers (NACE), the companies surveyed are planning to hire 22% fewer graduates from the upcoming class of 2009 than they hired from last year’s batch of new grads. While this news is disheartening for the class of 2009, for employers it means a greater availability of eager fresh graduates and the power to be more discerning with your selection.

Screening for Career Fit is Important
Given the weakness in the job market, the class of 2009 will be more open to positions that veer off of their intended career path. Accordingly it will be more important to assess your prospective hire’s desired career path so you don’t end up hiring someone who is talented yet not interested in a career at your company. For people that fall into this category, chances are good that when the employment market improves, they will be dusting off their resumes again to try and break into the field they originally sought before they settled for something outside their desired field. Think of the big picture when considering recent graduates for a job at your organization. Is your goal to have a long term employee who will stay with the company for years to come? Or is your opening an immediate need that doesn’t necessarily require longevity?

Greater Opportunity to Try Before You Buy
If you are concerned about whether the recent graduate will be a good fit for the role and your organization, consider taking a temp to perm candidate. This option gives you the flexibility to try out the candidate without the commitment, and to determine whether you can see this person being successful in your organization long term. It’s a win-win situation; recent graduates will benefit from the experience, and both parties can gauge whether the job will be a long-term fit. Even if you have to go through several temps to find the right fit, it’s worthwhile considering the alternative of realizing too late that your permanent hire wasn’t a good match.

Christine Bolzan, an entry-level job search expert and founder of Graduate Career Coaching,, agrees and says, “More and more college seniors are applying for internship and temp positions this year in response to the decrease in full-time opportunities. The hope is that they can parlay such a role into a permanent job when the economy picks up and they have demonstrated their strengths and skills to the employer. Some companies have responded in kind and have created graduate internships complete with training and networking opportunities for participants.”

Find Better Candidates and Have the Chance to Build their Loyalty
Another benefit of hiring 2009 graduates is that you will be able to hire some highly qualified candidates for less than in the past. While scaling back salaries to account for market changes is appropriate, resist the urge to take advantage of candidates’ flexibility. For one, we all know that this year’s graduating class will have more to pay back in student loans than any class before them. But also consider the detriment it could do to your relationship with your employee. Many fresh grads making low starting wages could be forced to take a second job in order to make ends meet, thereby diluting the energy and drive they having for helping your organization succeed. Not to mention that once the job market improves, they will be quick to jump ship for a better opportunity. The loyalty you build with them by paying them fairly now will serve your organization best in the long run.

Fair pay is not the only thing that will inspire loyalty in your newest hires. Considering all the negative information they are hearing about job prospects for this coming May, they will feel fortunate that you selected them despite the tough times. By investing in them, you will be paid back with the hard work that comes from gratitude for the company that was willing to give them a break.

Aaron Green is founder and president of Boston-based Professional Staffing Group,, and PSG Global Solutions, He is also a member of the board of directors of the American Staffing Association. He can be reached at or (617) 250-1000.

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Featuring human resources advice and columns from The Boston Globe's On Staffing and Hire Authority writers.