Ready or not, here they come: The rise of graduate recruitment

Organisations are keener than ever this year to hire graduates despite reservations about how prepared they are for the “real world”, a new survey suggests.

With gradation season now in full swing around the world, HR firm CareerBuilder surveyed more than 2,000 hiring managers in the US to gauge their graduate recruitment and selection intentions for 2014. The findings indicate that employers are more open than in previous years to take fresh graduates on into their workforce.

According to the survey, well over half (57 per cent) of employers said they are planning to hire new graduates. This is an increase from the 44 per cent recorded four years ago.

The survey also suggested there may be inconsistencies between organisations' perception of the readiness of graduates to enter the workforce, and how well universities prepare them. CareerBuilder found that almost a quarter (24 per cent) of employers believe tertiary institutions are “adequately preparing students” for the roles that need to be filled, although many felt that graduates are ready to enter the “real world”.

Brent Rasmussen, president of CareerBuilder North America, said that academic institutions play an important part in preparing tomorrow's employees.

“Education plays a critical role in bridging the skills gap and fostering a capable and productive workforce,” he explained.

“The vast majority of employers feel that the skills and knowledge base students gain at academic institutions are aligned with their company needs, but nearly one in four sense a disconnect. As roles within organisations grow more complex and demand for certain degrees outpaces graduation rates, there is an opportunity for employers to work more closely with schools to help guide learning experiences for the next generation of workers.”

The CareerBuilder survey also indicated some of the potential reasons employers feel graduates aren't sufficiently prepared. The most prevalent concern among recruiters was that universities don't put enough emphasis on practical applications – more than half (53 per cent) agreed that institutions focus too much on “book learning instead of real world learning”.

As ever, the importance of transferrable, non-technical skills to today's workplaces was also raised. More than a third (35 per cent) of respondents said that their organisation requires candidates who can demonstrate “a blend of technical skills and soft skills”, which is typically found in liberal arts graduates.

With organisations' graduate recruitment needs becoming ever more sophisticated, it's important that companies know exactly what they're looking for when they're hiring these individuals.

What are the most sought attributes on graduates?

When it comes to recruiting graduates, it appears there is a separate set of criteria that employers focus on. According to peterberry_author's Graduate Research Report, which included findings from the Global Survey of Graduate Recruiting Practices, there are some common traits that rank highly on most employers' graduate checklists.

The five top graduate attributes cited by respondents were a positive attitude, ability, willingness to learn quickly, achievement orientation and social competence. The research adds further weight to the argument that in addition to “cognitive and/or technical ability”, personality traits such as strong interpersonal skills and emotional intelligence are also highly regarded.

Personality assessments can therefore, play a huge role in the recruitment and selection of graduates – but graduate management does not end with the hiring decision. Ongoing programs such as graduate talent assessments can give you a good idea of how your new recruits are settling in at work and how they're performing.

With comprehensive and easy-to-understand profiling methods, it's easier than ever to gauge your graduates' performance and predict their future success at your organisation.