5 Reasons to Hire a Graduate (and 5 Reasons Not To)

Chris Leitch
Chris Leitch

Editor-in-Chief & Résumé Expert

Students at graduation ceremony

Whether or not a business should hire recent graduates (as opposed to experienced workers) has been the subject of much debate for quite some time now.

Both sides have risen equally valid points – and reactions have been aplenty. Veterans are crying foul because they’re being discriminated against over their age. Graduates, on the other hand, are annoyed how job ads require candidates to ‘have experience’ – and how are they supposed to get experience if companies won’t hire them‽

It’s impossible to conclude whether one is better than the other (some companies do well with hiring newbies, others are better off with seasoned professionals), so it all depends on each organisation. To help you weigh the pros against the cons, though, we’ve put together a list of the five main reasons why you should hire a graduate – and five reasons why you shouldn’t.

Why You Should Hire a Graduate

1. They’re Affordable

One of the most appealing aspects of hiring recent graduates is that they are less expensive than their more seasoned counterparts and, therefore, a great way to reduce costs.

Now I’m not talking about cheap labour here, but with little to no professional experience, they won’t expect to start earning a six-figure salary in their first job. As such, they’ll happily (and I use the word ‘happily’ very loosely) settle for a lower salary – in exchange for experience and training, of course.

Offering an extremely low salary won’t be a good idea: it will inevitably lead to lowered employee morale, performance and productivity. In effect, this will increase – not reduce – costs.

2. Their Knowledge Is Current

Fresh out of university, graduates know all the latest industry principles, business models and success stories. In other words, their knowledge is current, which can’t really be said for more experienced workforce veterans. Although, yes, many professionals continually seek to improve and develop their skills and knowledge to remain current in their fields, this can take time that employers simply can’t afford to lose. It’s simply more practical to hire people who have the right kind of knowledge now.

Graduates also tend to be more tech-savvy. They have a natural aptitude for new technologies and the ever-evolving digital landscape, making them highly valuable team members for employers.

3. They’re Enthusiastic

One of the biggest advantages of hiring recent graduates is the level of enthusiasm and unbounded energy they bring to the mix – something you might not get from someone at a later stage in their career who’s already been there and done that.

Anyone who is making their first steps into the world of work will be excited about starting their first job, which means they’ll work the hardest to make a great impression and to prove their worth. As such, they’re more willing to put in longer hours and they’re more flexible to adapt, learn and grow. (And it is exactly this commitment and flexibility that they rely on to progress in their careers.)

4. They’re a Blank Canvas

A major challenge that many companies face when hiring new employees (who have been in the workforce for some time) is that they often come with an ingrained sense of how things should be done. Recruiting uni graduates and students, on the other hand, eliminates the need to train them to adjust or completely unlearn old ways and bad habits.

In other words, they’re essentially a blank canvas. Fresh off the hot press, they’re ready to dive straight into a company’s culture and follow its rules, and you can mould and shape them into what you need and your business’s way of doing things.

5. They Add a Fresh Perspective

As explained earlier, graduates who’ve recently finished university tend to be more up-to-date with their industry’s principles and business models. As such, they’re able to inject new ideas and apply current thinking from academia.

That and the fact that they have different experiences of the world to their more experienced colleagues, as well as an awareness of current trends, makes them an excellent source of fresh ideas. And considering that the professional world is constantly changing, this will help your company evolve and remain relevant.

Why You Shouldn’t Hire a Graduate

1. They Lack Experience

One of the biggest disadvantages of hiring graduates is that they lack experience. And although this can be rectified with a little guidance and training, it’s often easier and far less time-consuming to hire someone who has the industry experience and skills required to do the job.

While the transferable skills they’ve developed at school or in life in general can be beneficial to them in the workplace, studying and working are two very different things. They’ve never worked with a team or under a manager in a professional capacity. They’re not totally familiar with the ins and outs of the industry. They lack an executive presence. And they certainly don’t have the know-how to dive into sales pitches. This means that they’ll need a little extra hand-holding (especially in the beginning) and won’t reach their fullest potential for quite a while yet.

2. They’re Narcissistic

This, of course, does not apply to everyone who ever graduated from uni – and it isn’t necessarily a bad trait to have – but being confident in their abilities and being overconfident in their abilities are two very different things.

Although they can add a fresh perspective to things, as discussed earlier, they often succumb to arrogance. They rarely admit to mistakes, refuse to learn from those who are more experienced than themselves and they may have trouble taking direction from someone else because they feel they ‘know better’.

3. They Need a Lot of Training

Another reason why graduates make bad hires is that they generally need a longer training period than established employees due to their lack of institutional knowledge. Although spending the time needed to educate a new employee will pay off in the long run, you need to ask yourself whether your company can afford training new hires on things like basic business etiquette (eg: refreshing the coffee if you take the last cup, not interrupting phone calls and business meetings, etc).

4. They Have Unrealistic Expectations

You’ll find that many younger workers have a sense of entitlement and expect everything to be handed to them on a silver platter. Though this certainly isn’t the case for every new graduate, many inexperienced jobseekers simply don’t understand the realities and difficulties of finding a good job and succeeding in it.

5. They’re Less Engaged

As any good recruiter knows, employee engagement is vital to the survival of any business. A disengaged employee leads to lower productivity, decreased morale, higher absenteeism, poor customer service, increased safety incidents and, as a result, takes a swipe at company profits. And it’s often Millennials who are disengaged at work.

In fact, recent research by Gallup concluded that 71% of Millennials were either not engaged or actively disengaged. The study also found that 6 in 10 Millennials were open to different job opportunities, while only 50% plan to remain with their company more than one year.

If you’re still not sure whether recruiting recent grads is the way to go, why don’t you consider taking them for a test drive through an internship? After all, temporary intern work can be a great way to determine whether new hires fit into your company!

Do you think that the pros of recruiting recent grads far outweigh the cons or vice versa? What other reasons should (and shouldn’t) a company hire a graduate for? Join the conversation down below and let us know!

Don’t forget to check out our comprehensive guide on how to hire the best candidate!