Tips for helping recent college graduates succeed in their first job
By Aaron Green, 04/21/08
It's that time of year again; the fresh faces of recent college graduates are entering the workforce. Chances are your business is among the 59 percent of employers that hire new college graduates, according to an annual nationwide survey by MonsterTRAK.
I believe the basic tenants for managing recent college graduates are slightly different than those for more seasoned employees. More so than their experienced colleagues, new college graduates cite growth potential and personal fulfillment as the key factors in job satisfaction. With that in mind, following are some tips for helping these newest members of our workforce get off to the right start in their careers.
According to MonsterTRAK, most recent college graduates say their number one priority is to find a job with growth potential. Therefore, it's important to show them that their new role with your company is more than just a first job and is, in fact, an important step along their career path. To that end:
- Highlight growth potential ... in the job and their career – Many graduates want to get their foot in the door and have the opportunity to prove themselves. Give them this opportunity and challenge new employees to meet high expectations. Outline the next step(s) on their career path. As they are developing, take notice and point out their accomplishments and newly acquired skills. Initiate discussions about how close they are to a promotion and what they need to do to get that promotion.
- Assign special projects – the generation that grew up multi-tasking appreciates having numerous opportunities to demonstrate their worth, especially if their regular job includes more mundane tasks. Participating in group projects or on special research work can make day-to-day responsibilities more interesting to new employees. It also gives managers a chance to evaluate the new employee for different skill sets as well as for their readiness to take on new responsibilities.
- Invest in training and development – If you invest in your employees, they are more likely to invest in your company. They'll also have a better understanding of your organization's business goals and practices, which can likely translate to improved performance.
- Give regular, constructive feedback – whatever your company policy is for giving performance reviews, step it up a notch for new hires and give them less formal but more frequent feedback. Make sure the feedback sessions include two-way communications and goal-setting. If you don't already have a mentoring program in place, consider setting one up to pair veteran employees, or those seeking management experience, with new hires to help them ease the transition process.
After growth potential, the MonsterTRAK survey says 79 percent of college graduates felt strongly about finding a job that offered personal fulfillment. While it's not possible to give every entry-level employee a starring role, there are ways to help them see that their entry-level job is important to the business. Obviously, employees who feel like important contributors to their organization will take pride in their work and will be more likely to enjoy future success.
- Fit the pieces of the puzzle together – Do your employees understand how their job impacts clients and customers? If not they should. Communicate your company's direction and decisions and how the new employee fits into the company's future. Employees feel more trusting when they know about the company's decisions.
- Highlight your company's social responsibility and culture – Getting new employees involved in your company's outreach efforts and community support fosters interested, vested employees. At my company, Professional Staffing Group, we have a diversity initiative that pairs new employees with non-profit organizations such as the Urban League where they help constituents in search of employment by conducting resume workshops, mock interviews and career counseling sessions. For these charitable efforts, volunteers get to work with co-workers they don't normally interact with which helps them get to know others throughout the organization and promotes teamwork.
- Reward accomplishments – Recent graduates are used to working toward goals or rewards - after all, college taught them to study hard to get a good grade. So it makes sense to apply that methodology to the workforce to help them ease their transition. Workplace "rewards" and incentives, which could range from prominent roles in company meetings to prizes to monetary bonuses or extra time off, reinforce positive actions and help illuminate the path toward success.
Helping new employees adjust and become successful at work is essential to meeting overall business goals. These tips are designed to support new hires' own measurements of success in the workplace. Try them to help foster a positive work environment that motivates and excites new employees to achieve success.
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