Solving for the Gap Between Graduation & Qualified Hires

Leading trends in employability for recent graduates from the NACE Conference 2016

This post is brought to you by Rakuna, the Campus Recruiting Solution

Employers, universities and the leading recruitment technology vendors gathered in Chicago’s Hilton Hotel for NACE’s (National Association of Colleges and Employers) annual conference. In walking the floor, attending the breakout sessions and speaking with the speakers, it became clear that the industry of millennial recruitment is shifting toward comprehensive data informed employers, more college student to employer relationship building by the university, and less clerical work for everyone involved. Underlying those three trends is methodology of how communities development; for without a community interested in your employment opportunities, there is no innovation to be had in moving interest in what you do to joining what you do.

“The process of how employers bring communities together needs to continue to evolve,” said Dawn Carter, Intuit’s Director of Early Careers and NACE’s President of the Board. “One size does not fit all, but all community development starts with engaging the community.”

NACE conference has walked the talk when in comes to community development. At the conference, NACE announced the surpassing of 10,000 members (employers and universities). This Bethlehem PA based nonprofit is moving the conversation forward, getting the right people in the room to solve the gap between graduation and qualified hires.

This emphasis on employers thinking longer-term resonated throughout the conference. In our age of social networks, juniors, sophomores and even freshmen are more comfortable continuing a relationship with an employer much earlier than when it is time to make an employment decision.

“We are preparing students to be more proactive — and not wait for senior year or after senior year to start engaging with employers. Instead of looking at college as a last hurrah, we want them to see it as professional experience,” said one university career center professional, who preferred not to be named.

But are upcoming graduates prepared for the workforce? In 2012, only 51% of bachelor degree graduates had full time jobs within a year. Graduates got full-time jobs within 6 months of graduation at a rate of 55.4% in 2014 and 58.4 in 2015 respectively. So we’re headed in the right direction but the gap is still very large; when you remove the 17% that are continuing their education and the 2% that are not seeking work, we’re left with over 30% of the new workforce as underemployed or unemployed.

“A lot or majors don’t translate to a specific careers, and students need to get away from stigmas of this or that industry isn’t exciting so they don’t get near it,” said the anonymous university career center professional. “They need to look more toward cultural fit; a specific employer within an industry the student hadn’t considered can be just as likely to offer a strong cultural fit.”

The emphasis of cultural fit from the university side aligns with the growth of community on the employer side. What follows community development is in person meetings. Interviewing is even more important when candidate has minimal volume of work history.

“We think there is opportunity for candidates not selected to become advocates,” said Dawn Carter. “At Intuit we’re experimenting with our interview process to make it more engaging. The underlying goal is creating value for the candidate. Whether the candidate gets the job or not, a job interview can be a beneficial experience for both involved.”

A beneficial interaction for a candidate with a company should feel more like a career growth experience than a transactional experience. It starts with treating people like people. For example at career fairs, companies are shifting away from the gathering of resumes and even away from wait in line to check in at our ipad station solutions. Smart employers are just snapshot-ing a resume, having the OCR technologies parse the information, and then candidate nurturing is moving forward online.

Competition for talent is fierce in a competitive job market. As a corporation grows, there is an interesting challenge of hiring for a position they are not traditionally known to hire for. This challenge becomes increasingly difficult when that in-demand talent is younger and less familiar with the workforce. In the case of TD, we can see how corporations are overcoming it firsthand.

“We’re at a technology job fair in Waterloo, Blackberry on one side of us and Google on the other. Students were approaching our booth asking if we were hiring tellers,” explained Andrea Hough, VP Talent Acquisition at TD. “There’s a candidate education process that we have to lead. Candidates need to see banks as technology companies, because we build some of the most relied upon and cutting edge technology out there, and we are leading the way on this rebranding journey!”

NACE estimates the average salary for graduates with computer science degrees at $61,321 this year, second only to engineering graduates, at $64,89; and computer science grads also have the highest full-time employment rate within six months of graduation. It’s a competitive market out there folks.

How does an employer build a community of prospective candidates? How do universities help get their students on the radar of university recruiters? How do we measure the success of campus recruiting?

This post is brought to you by Rakuna, the Campus Recruiting Solution