5 Ways to Hire Bright Graduates

Like clockwork, every year brings a flood of young, bright graduates tossing their caps in the air and getting ready to jump into the real world. They’ve crushed it in undergrad or grad school and want to put their academic skills to the test. Many employers still aren’t sure about these over-confident Millennial grads and the most recent Gen Z grads (the generation graduating from college in 2018). These young adults may have stellar academics on their side, but not much practical experience. Millennials and Gen Z don’t yet know how to apply their academic skills and talents to the workplace. And some employers may find them a tad entitled.

Currently, these younger workers are highly skilled in digital technology. They’re connected to the world around them. They’re creative thinkers and individualistic. They’re notably collaborative and innovative. All of these traits are highly beneficial to the workplace.

By not considering bright graduates in your hiring practices, you could be depriving yourself of some of the most dynamically intelligent entrants into the job sector. By competing for and hiring these bright graduates, you’re laying the groundwork for not only your current success but also for the prosperity of your succession plan.

Here are 5 of the best ways to hire bright graduates for your organization:

1. Be Proactive

Top talent is in short supply. This includes college graduates. In August 2018, the unemployment rate for people aged 25 years or older with a college degree or higher was 2.1 percent, compared with 3.9 percent for the national average.

Because the competition for top talent is fierce, these young candidates are in the driver’s seat. They have choices among employers or for career options. How will you attract these talented candidates? How will you throw your company’s name in the ring for consideration? How long will it take for you to communicate an offer?

There is some truth in the saying, “Hire slow. Fire fast.” However, in this day in age of social media, technological advances, and vigorous competition, don’t hire too slow. If you sleep on your employment offer, you’re going to lose your top prospective talent. If you don’t want this young, smart grad going to your competitor, and you think he or she will be a good fit for your team, make the offer.

2. Go Mobile

If you’re not entirely using mobile platforms, it’s time to jump on the bandwagon. Mobile platforms go beyond making sure your website is mobile-friendly, although that’s critically important for younger generations. Make sure you’re also fully versed in the relevant social media channels for your business, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube.

There’s a reason that millennials and Gen Z don’t pick up the phone or listen to voicemails. These generations grew up with email, text messages, and instant messages. These forms of communication are more immediate than the phone call. Additionally, the recipient can respond to them in their own time, where a phone call feels more like an interruption in the day.

Text messages are more popular than emails, with statistics showing that 68 percent of millennials frequently text during the day compared to 47 percent of Gen X’ers. Again, text messages are mobile and instant. They can be read and responded to at any time by the recipient. The messages can be thought out and can be sent to mass recipients.

During recruiting, employers should keep these forms of communication in mind—from an informative, mobile-friendly website to text messaging. You can keep applicants informed of the recruiting process through texting, for example. Workplace communication is changing, whether we like it or not. We might as well embrace it within our recruiting models for young hires.

3. Think Beyond Salary and Traditional Benefits

Think you’ll attract these young, bright stars with cash, health care, and your 401k plan? Think again. Unlike prior generations, millennials are mixing up demand in the employee benefits world. According to a recent study, millennials’ top five preferred employee benefits, in order, are: training and development, flexible working hours, cash bonuses, private free healthcare, and a pension scheme or other retirement plan funding. Notice health care and retirement plans come in at spots four and five, much different than preferences for baby boomers or Gen X.

Human resources departments and hiring managers need to understand what motivates millennials and Gen Z. If companies attempt to attract these younger generations with a solid health plan and a glide path 401k delivered on paper or desktop forms, they’re going to miss out on securing young talent. Although a health plan and a 401k may hit the top five motivators, those benefits won’t distinguish you as a company.

Organizations need to offer employee benefits that millennials and Gen Z will consume. Additionally, these benefits need to be delivered on mobile platforms. Think of shopping for your retirement plan like you buy home goods on Amazon. Time’s are changing rapidly. Benefits motivate these younger generations, just not the same way they did for employees five years ago.

4. Focus on the Candidate Experience

During the interview process, be sure to establish your expectations. Communicate the dates, times, meeting details, lunches, dinners, and any other happenings during your recruiting sessions. Younger candidates like details, not surprises. This communication gives candidates the opportunity to be prepared and to know what to expect.

5. Ask for Qualified Referrals

Already have bright, talented employees in your organization? Well, like attracts like. Turn your workforce into recruiters through a robust employee referral program. Through a successful referral program, your employees will be motivated to refer qualified prospective employees – including young, talented graduates – for open positions. Your employees know what type of employee you’re looking for and who would be an excellent cultural fit. They also know the person they’re referring.

Chances are, through employee referrals, you’re getting a pre-vetted qualified referral. And not only are you getting a qualified referral, but you’re also getting an above average candidate. In a recent study, 88 percent of employers stated that employee referrals are the #1 sourcing method for “above average candidates.”

Of course, to build a successful referral program, you’ll need to take the program’s structure, rewards, and monitoring into consideration. You can’t just throw a referral program together and expect out-of-this-world results. A poorly designed program could cause more harm than no program at all. So, take time to develop a well thought out program and engage your employees in attracting and retaining new, talented graduates.


Contrary to popular belief, 83 percent of millennials would prefer to work for a single company for an extended period. Only 26 percent want to job-hop to better their careers. However, millennials tend to move from job to job because they don’t have a compelling reason to stay with their current employer.

To recruit these talented, bright, young graduates, you need to not only think short-term and get them in the door, but you also need to think long-term on retaining them. Give them a compelling reason to stay at your company. To learn. To develop. To grow into loyal, valuable employees that will contribute to your succession plan.

Remember, retention follows attraction. And we were all young and just out of school once. Take a chance on these bright graduates. Show them the ropes. Your company will reap the benefits.

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