Comparing Candidates: Should You Hire Experienced Workers or Recent College Graduates?

Just a few decades ago one could very easily land a great job right out of college.

College degrees helped people stand out from their peers. Having that formal education really meant something.

A college degree was affirmation that a person had the necessary skills and mindset to be a productive and competent employee.

Because only a small percentage of the overall workforce held college degrees in years past, this made having a college degree a ticket to wealth and prosperity.

That was then. Today things are very different.

Too Many People with College Degrees?

Today a much higher percentage of the population is college educated. This is due in large part to teachers, guidance counselors and so many others pushing the idea of going to college on nearly everyone.

And with the advent of online degrees from reputable schools, access to higher education is currently at an all-time high, which only adds to the number of people with degrees.

Because so many people are now college educated, the value of having a degree isn’t what it once was. Many now refer to bachelor’s degree as the new high school diploma.

And in a society with so many people out of work due to an anemic economy, it is not uncommon to find college educated individuals waiting tables, driving buses and taxis, working in retail outlets and many other jobs that don’t even require a degree.

Chicken vs. Egg

Because of the glut of college educated applicants, employers tend to look for much more than a degree in business or accounting. They want experience.

Or some kind of professional certification such as the CPA, CMA, PMP or others. But this presents quite a problem for new graduates with little or no experience. It’s the classic chicken vs. egg scenario.

How do you get experience if no one will hire you?

The answer is to acquire professional certifications to get a foot in the door.

In order to land that first great job new graduates are having to learn additional skills that many colleges and universities just aren’t teaching.

By acquiring one or more professional certifications, it proves to employers that the graduate has actual work skills and isn’t just someone steeped in micro aggressions, safe spaces and other such political correctness that is found on most campuses these days.

And there are many different certifications that are relatively easy to obtain that make great resume fodder.

A recent graduate with a degree in accounting, for example, can quickly and inexpensively obtain certifications in accounting applications such as Quickbooks, Peachtree, Great Plains and others.

In addition to accounting certifications, recent grads can also become certified in office management applications such as the Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) and the Certified Administrative Professional (CAP).

The Benefits of Hiring Recent Graduates

Employers take a big risk when hiring any new employee, especially one with little or no work history. The risk is mostly the financial loss the company will incur if the new hire doesn’t work out.

New employees represent a major investment with training, benefits and other financial concerns. If a particular employee doesn’t work out, then the company may potentially lose thousands of dollars.

But that doesn’t mean there is no upside to hiring recent graduates.

If you hire a new graduate, you can offer a much lower wage than you can with an experienced applicant. Those with experience expect and deserve to be paid for the years of sweat equity they invested in developing their skills.

New graduates, however, expect lower starting salaries. This is a great way for companies to save a lot of money on their salary expense. Most college graduates will be very grateful to have the opportunity to gain experience at a lower salary.

Another advantage to hiring a recent graduate is that you can train that person in your company’s specific methods.

Some experienced employees who transition to your company may be set in their ways and have a difficult time adapting to new procedures and processes. “We’ve always done it this way,” is a common phrase uttered by those resistant to change.

The Trouble With Experienced Workers

Many employers assume that just because someone has great experience in a certain field that he or she will be best suited for the job. This isn’t always true.

Many considerations need to be taken when making a hiring decision for these seasoned workers.

Great emphasis should be placed on why such an experienced employee is changing jobs. Did she do just enough in her previous position to get by without being fired?

Does she get along well with other employees? Is she a team player? Is she about to be fired from her current position for failing to perform her duties adequately?

Weigh the Risks and the Rewards

There are many risks associated with hiring experienced workers as well as new college graduates. Likewise, there are many potential benefits of hiring new graduates and seasoned professionals.

Going with the candidate with experience is not always the best option for all companies. Before making any hiring decision, carefully consider the candidate as a whole and what that individual can contribute.

Is she enthusiastic? Can he be easily trained? You may find that recent college graduates have more to offer than what you have been led to believe.


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