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Hiring Expectations for Recent Graduates

employer's expectation

It’s the first week of May which means that caps will soon be flying in the air and college graduates will be entering the workforce.  What these new workers may not know is that employers often have an unspoken expectation that graduates arrive job-ready on day one…

Sounds pretty reasonable, right?

But with advances in technology, many “entry-level” positions of the past have been automated.  The result – fewer opportunities for new graduates to get in on the ground floor of an operation and learn the ropes. Instead, today’s graduates are expected to hit the ground solving problems rather than spending time getting their feet wet.

Oftentimes, graduates make academic decisions in order to increase their chances of securing the perfect job. With $1.3 trillion (and growing) in student debt, graduates are faced with the decision of whether or not to incur more debt to comply with increased expectations of employers.

What should be the employer’s expectations of those newly graduated job candidates?

Hiring Expectations for Recent Graduates

Accenture, a consulting firm, provided research and insights on college graduate expectations of employment in 2015. The results show that employers’ expectations and young people’s assumptions are not line.

College Graduates & Young Adult’s Expectations

An average 69% of college graduates believe that they need more post-graduation education or training to land their dream job. This could include, but is not limited to, earning an MBA, getting further certifications, etc. In addition, 77% of college graduates expect their future employers to provide additional training.

(Are you hiring new college graduates? Download our exclusive 5 guiding principles for building a star-quality team here.)

If you or someone you know is a recent college graduate, it’s imperative that you prepare based upon the employer’s expectations. While roughly 57% of employers provide on-the-job training, graduates should prepare for transitioning into the workforce as well as acclimating to the high standards expected.

(Know someone graduating this May? Pass this tip sheet along to them!)

Employer’s Expectations

Almost half (43%) of employers do not provide on-the-job training. Instead, these employers expect for these graduates to know everything. I suppose it makes sense to expect a 22-year-old who has invested $100,000 (give or take) into their college education to have the knowledge, capabilities, and resources to succeed in a position without any training, right?

My involvement with the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship as a lecturer has taught me that graduates need training. Some of the students I work with have had numerous internships at prestigious organizations, but they still require on-the-job training (it could even look like a mentorship). But no organization is the same. Each potential employee that you hire has to learn the systems, the culture, and more importantly, how to be successful within your organization.

There are two things that employers can look at: skills and talents.

Skill [skil]: the ability to do something well; expertise

Talent [tal-uh nt]: natural aptitude or skill

I can teach skills, but I can’t teach talent.

Here are a few expectations I have of all employees (including new grads):

There are appropriate expectations for any job, but it’s important to analyze the expectations that you have and the consequences they may create. An employer should focus on how to discover the natural talents that a job candidate has than to teach skills and further develop their talents.

Employee Turnover

Employee turnover accounts for the cost of acquiring, maintaining, and firing/resigning an employee. There are also costs in every stage in sustaining an employee within your organization. This includes employees that quit, are let go or retire.

Considering employee’s compensation,  your investment in your human capital, training, hiring, benefits, and so much more, it’s no wonder that the #2 reason why businesses fail is because of employee turnover!

While there is no perfect equation to calculate an organization’s employee turnover,  it can roughly be calculated as the number of employees who have left divided by the total number of employees in that segment (# left in time period/# total employees in segment.) For example, if Company A lost one of its fifteen employees in one year, then its annual turnover would be 6.67% or 1/15.

No matter how you calculate employee turnover, it’s important to keep your expectations of your employees (including your new grad hires) reasonable. If you’re not careful about how to care for your team, then your employee turnover ratio will go through the roof.

Hiring a Star Quality Team

There are many factors that go into running a successful company. Hiring a star quality team is essential to grow your company. For most organizations, people are at the root of the company’s success. Whether you own a mom & pop restaurant, manage a local hardware store, or own an oil & gas equipment manufacturing company, your team is vital to your success.

employer's expectationEven though the price of oil is slowly climbing up after it’s long economic downturn, fewer professional jobs are available during this time; however, the demand for talented candidates remains high. This becomes a cyclical issue that you as the financial leader, CEO or decision maker will have to continually face.

Unfortunately, universities fail to efficiently train students to transition their school-based skills and talents to the workforce. Until universities transition students into employees, hire based on the potential for the employee to grow.

(Are you trying to build a star-quality team? Download our free, exclusive 5 guiding principles for building a star-quality team here.)

Hiring Expectations for Recent Graduates, employer's expectations

Hiring Expectations for Recent Graduates, employer's expectations

Accenture 2015 College Graduate Employment Research


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Mistakes in Troubled Times

There’s never a good time to make a mistake. However, errors during times of distress can be especially crippling. As we enter month 17 of the oil crisis, even minor missteps can have devastating consequences. To help you stay vigilant, we’ve detailed some common mistakes in troubled times that organizations make and how to avoid them.

Mistakes in Troubled Times

Changing Too Slowlymistakes in troubled times

Regardless of what kind of trouble they’re experiencing, companies tend to linger in their old ways for longer than they should. Failure to react quickly and an “everything’s fine” mentality will cause more damage the longer it’s sustained.

In month 17, have you already started to adjust to the economy? Instead of sticking your head in the sand, process information and take actionable steps to maintain a) a positive cash flow and b) the longevity of your organization.

Unrealistic Expectations

I’ve said it countless times to my coaching participants over the past year “the marketplace thought this oil crisis would last for 3-6 months, but economists project it to last 18-36 months.”

In this extended period of financial stress, it’s imperative to maintain a positive cash flow. Find holes in your business where you are bleeding. Here are some examples of what actionable steps some companies have taken to maintain positive cash flow:

  • ask employees to work 4 days instead of 5 days
  • give employees a pay cut with the promise that their position will be maintained
  • streamline your company by removing any job positions that do not return a profit for the company

This length of economic downturn is an opportunity for your company to regroup and create an action plan that could be a catapult for success after recovery.

(NOTE: Do you know the direct costs to a single unit? By downloading the free Know Your Economics tool, you will be able to shape your economics to return a profit. Click here to learn more.)


If you projected in June of 2014 that the economic downturn would last 6 months and are now sitting in month 17 with little to no cash, you’re not alone.

Because they waited too long, panic sets in causing many companies to overreact. Massive lay-offs, budget cuts, and cheaper quality materials are typically the cuts made at a moment’s notice. Before you know it, you’ve cut all your upper management leaving one junior account manager with the responsibility of 15 senior managers.

Reacting quickly and carelessly can have major repercussions. Instead, first gather adequate information. Before considering making a decision, think about how that decision is going to affect your organization in the long term.

Does your organization value experience or does what you do not require an experienced work force?  Those few thousand dollars saved by hiring cheaper, less-experienced people could make a major difference in your company’s survival.  But if your organization’s success is based upon relationships, it might be best to consider keeping the more expensive person.  People (both employees and customers) tend to follow people that they like.

Does your organization stand on producing quality product? If the materials for your product are expensive, then there may be a less expensive vendor with the same quality. But if your organization stands on its quality, do not react quickly by cutting the quality of your product. Stand on what your organization was built on and continue that legacy by looking at it from multiple angles. If you take a Rubik’s Cube and try to solve it by only looking at one side, you aren’t going to be able to solve the cube (I’m assuming you’re not a Rubik’s genius here).

Lack of Transparency

Often, senior management becomes tight-lipped when things get tough out of embarrassment or a desire to protect the team from bad news.  In times of distress, transparency with your team is more important than ever.  People are much more likely to work with you when they have the whole picture and understand how they fit into the solution.

If your organization has already downsized employees and cut costs, it’s time to bring the team together to brainstorm.  Some of your front-line employees might see things differently than the executives. Take some time and listen to them. Here are some tips to consider when bringing the team together.

  • Spread out the facts for every employee to see
  • Do not undercut your paying customers
  • Translate every action into a dollar value

Transparency will go a long way. If management proves to the front-line employees that they are fighting for the company (and thus the front-line employees), loyalty will be dramatically higher.

There are many options to ride out an economic downturn with your employees: limiting unnecessary resources, reducing pay and work hours, and scrutinizing every process before a decision is made. Do what’s best for your company, but know that you work with real humans.

It’s tempting to nickel-and-dime customers when times are tough for your company (I’m looking at you, airline industry).  But, your paying customer should not suffer due to your company’s distress. If cash is tight, focus on providing excellent customer service to your loyal customers. This is your most valuable resource! Improve your service, go out of your way to serve your customer without nickel-and-diming them. Just like you’re trying to create loyalty with your employees, create loyalty with your customers.

Failure to Understand Your Company’s Economics

One of the most common mistakes I see companies make is taking action without investigating the impact on the firm’s economics.  How will reducing your sales price in an effort to increase volume impact your bottom line?  Have you decreased overhead costs correspondingly?  If you reduce the cost of your materials and product quality suffers, how much do you need to sell to still cover fixed costs?

Knowing your economics is crucial to preventing mistakes from happening in troubled times. Translate every actionable item into a dollar item. This will help streamline what items can be tweaked, thus increasing your chances for success.

(NOTE: Want to double-check that you know your company’s economics? Download the Know Your Economics tool here.)

mistakes in troubled times

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mistakes in troubled times

Whatever decisions you make, be honest with your management, employees, and customers. It’ll benefit you in the long run.

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