The hiring process for new graduates can often be lengthy. Many employers are looking for young professionals with new ideas to add to their team. They may take a longer time to vet them, however, unlike with a veteran professional who might be fast-tracked due to his significant job experience. This doesn’t mean an employer is reluctant to offer you the job. On the contrary, this is your chance to shine and make sure you present a convincing case of why you should be hired.
Vetting: What is the employer searching for?
Hiring managers and recruiters often struggle to assess whether a new graduate really has the potential to excel on the job, especially given their minimal real world job history. The shift from college to a full-time job is a major one and many young professionals have a difficult time adjusting to working 40 or more hours a week with committed focus and little time off. At most companies, new hires have the highest turnover rate. Either they quit because they can’t adjust or they think they can find a better situation at another job.
What can you do? Understand these concerns and counter them by including things in your interviews that demonstrate you’ve had long-term commitments and are accustomed to hard work. Present examples of where you’ve faced tough situations but didn’t quit. If life circumstances have caused you to take on unusual burdens or set of responsibilities at some point in your life, make a point of sharing how you triumphed despite that.
It’s not the technical skills of new graduates that cause employers worry. A Workforce Solutions Group survey found that many employers – 60 percent – felt young applicants lacked significant “soft skills,” such as interpersonal skills and the ability to communicate well. In addition, employers questioned how well recent graduates were taught to think critically enough to solve workplace problems or creatively enough to be innovative.
What can you do? During your interviews, express yourself confidently and clearly. Be open and try to strike rapport with the interviewer. Emphasize your people skills and how well you can work both by yourself and with a team. If you were known for helping classmates, being an activist on campus, managing social activities or serving as a resident assistant or a student leader, explain how this allowed you to develop your interpersonal talents.
The Process: What is the most time-consuming phase of the hiring process?
Resumes, interviews, reference checks, backgrounding, follow-up interviews and comparative evaluation of candidates can all slow down the selection process for hiring a young professional.
The interview process is by far the longest phase, and may include an email exchange, phone interview, initial in-person interview, a post-interview review, a second round interview for the top one or two finalists and possibly a third bargaining interview. The steps in this interview series may be separated by weeks or even months, whether you are working directly with a hiring manager or a recruiting firm.
The first interview focuses on your resume, personality, skill level and occupational knowledge. The second interview is an intensified look at your experience and will be used to assess what you have to offer compared to other final candidates. It typically includes interviews with additional people at the company, whether they are managers or top employees at your pay grade. At this time, there may be a discussion of job benefits as well as a tour of the actual facility where you would be working. If you are not offered a contract at this time, you might be called in for a third interview where final negotiations and a formal job offer will take place. After each interview, the management team will take time internally for discussions and review.
What you should do? Keep sending out resumes and searching for jobs. Accept other invitations to interview. That way, you will have choices in case you are rejected. If a manager or staffing firm rejects you for a particular position, often they will keep your resume on file in case a position better suited for you become available.
Your Responsibility: How can you help speed up the process?
- Follow up after your interviews with a thank-you email or a note sent by snail mail. Make this contact within 24 hours.
- If you have not heard from a hiring manager or recruiter at any phase in the hiring process, give them a call to see if they got your resume or have any post-interview questions. Ask them how soon they plan to make a decision.
Keep a positive attitude as you wait, believing that someone will see your potential and give you the opportunity you deserve.
Judi Wunderlich has been a leading recruiter for over 20 years. In 2009 she co-founded the WunderLand Group, a staffing and recruiting firm which focuses on contract and full time job opportunities in Marketing, Advertising, and Digital Design & Development. WunderLand has offices in Chicago, San Francisco, New York and Connecticut. Judi’s position allows her a unique view of hiring trends, and she has written about and spoken at numerous conferences on hiring, career trends, and the use of social media for job seekers and hiring managers alike. Connect with Judi on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+.
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