It's May — the month when reality hits college seniors. Graduates that haven’t found a job yet need to double down on their job search efforts, meaning an influx of resumes will likely start appearing in recruiters’ inboxes.
I'm always grateful for this wave of applications. Even with little to no work experience, recent graduates have a lot to offer. They bring fresh perspectives to the table, and they're easy to train since they haven't been exposed to many work styles yet.
I've recruited hundreds (maybe thousands) of fresh college grads at this point. Here are a few strategies I've learned for assessing their skills, identifying great hires from the bunch, and encouraging them to join your company.
Fill in the resume gaps
Assessing expertise from resumes is always somewhat murky, but it's especially challenging when you're hiring recent grads. They have, at best, minimal work experience, so you're only able to evaluate their resumes based on two factors:
Technical skills, such as coding, fluency in other languages, or building spreadsheets.
Transferable skills, or attributes that can be used in a variety of jobs. Examples include communication, leadership, and organization.
Technical skills are easy to recognize and measure through aptitude tests. Transferable skills, on the other hand, are difficult to detect in resumes. They can be shown in any number of ways — whether it be captaining a sports team, participating in student government, or engaging in arts programs. Recruiters have to holistically look at graduates' non-professional experiences to pick out the transferable skills and determine whether they would be a good fit for the role.
I was lucky enough to benefit from this approach in my own career path. After studying politics throughout college, I quickly realized after graduation that it wasn't what I wanted to pursue. Luckily, a CEO at a small local tech company pointed me in the direction of recruiting. He recognized that my experience in politics helped me build core recruiting qualities — namely, being outgoing and not easily intimidated by titles — and recommended that I apply for a recruiting role at his company. If he hadn't recognized my transferable skills, I'm not sure where I would be today.
To evaluate recent grads' skills, consider their entire set of experiences. Avoid overlooking any attributes that could be useful at your company by evaluating each of these areas:
Extracurriculars: Did they hold leadership roles in their groups? If so, what did they achieve in these roles? You can also assess their level of dedication by noting how long they were a member.
Internships: Did they intern in your industry and build relevant skills and knowledge? Even if the internship is unrelated to your work, consider whether the graduate is passionate about this subject. If you can harness this energy in a full time job, they could be a valuable hire.
Degree: Do their studies contribute to their knowledge of your industry? How did their studies help them build skills for the role and your workplace?
Notice that I didn't put GPA on this list. I haven’t found grades to be a reliable predictor of job performance — and yet, many companies treat GPA as the most important factor of new grads' resumes. It’s not hard to see why. Grades are one of the few data points that companies have about recent grads, so they assume grades reflect these applicants as a whole.
Weighing one factor too heavily will lead to poor hires, period. Consider every experience that recent graduates bring to the table, so you can judge all of their attributes and decide whether they would be a good match for your company.