How to find and land the right graduate for your business

Social media is awash with pictures of proud graduates, degree in hand and ready to embark on the next stage in their lives: searching for their first job and building the career of their dreams. Unfortunately, too many of them will soon be confronted with the realities of the job market. With the economy remaining sluggish, the political environment volatile, and the risk inherent in making a new appointment high, many employers elect to play it safe rather than recruit at this stage.

But there is a way for businesses – from consultancies, small enterprises and startups to big companies and even multi-nationals – to take the gamble out of appointing new graduates, an expert says.

“It is understandable that employers are hesitant to appoint graduates fresh out of university with little or no work experience, given the current constraints we face,” says Nola Payne, Head of Faculty: Information and Communications Technology at The Independent Institute of Education, SA’s largest private higher education institution.

“But the benefit to a business of appointing someone fresh out of higher education, who has a solid understanding of a specific industry and the most recent trends and developments in this industry, who also has the ability to implement what they have learned in the real world of work, should not be under-estimated,” she says.

Growth does not happen without appointing the best people to make it happen, and young recruits are uniquely positioned to bring fresh insights and opportunities to a business,” she says.

However Payne says this would require many employers to review their approach to recruitment, to ensure they are not stuck in past ways of doing things, which may be the reason for their inability to land the candidates their business really need.

“Just as we advise prospective students to thoroughly investigate their options before settling on a qualification and an institution, so we also advise companies to thoroughly do their homework to determine which institutions are likely to produce graduates who are work-ready, who bring more than theoretical knowledge to the table, and who are ready to make a contribution from the very first day on the job.”

She says the best way to do this, is for employers to first determine to what degree an institution, whether it be a public university or a private one, invests in the work-readiness of graduates beyond mere academics. Additionally, a good sign would be if an institution and a qualification is closely linked to its related industry.