Collaborative, Curious, and Connected: 7 Reasons to Hire New Graduates in 2021 

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A tough job market is making the class of 2021 — from undergrads to MBAs — nervous. Between an uncertain economic recovery and competing with more experienced professionals who lost their jobs during the pandemic, the newest members of the professional workforce have a lot to worry about.

But, as always, youth has its advantages. Here are seven reasons why hiring a newly minted grad may be a good move for your organization. In our experience, the class of 2021 is:

1. Collaborative

They are used to working in teams, and they thrive in that environment. While millennials are credited with being the first generation to highly value collaboration in the workplace, our direct conversations with many Gen. Z-ers lead us to believe this up-and-coming cohort is no different. If your organization favors a collaborative approach, or if it would like to become more collaborative, new graduates are your best hiring bet.

2. Teachable

New grads are unlikely to have developed deeply ingrained bad working habits due to their limited work experience. They’ve yet to become jaded in light of unmet expectations, inappropriate or excessive demands, and bad bosses. They can be molded. You can help these workers grow in your ranks, and you can teach them skills and habits that align with what your company needs for the long term. Ultimately, these new grads could become your next crop of company leaders.

According to Forbes, Gen. Z craves stability and opportunities to advance based on their performance. They want to stay with your company, provided you offer them a chance to grow. So, as they develop new skills and confidence under your guidance, they’ll also become more productive and more engaged.

3. Connected

New grads bring new perspectives. In the near future, many of your clients, vendors, and employees will be Gen. Z-ers. Can you relate to them? Can you speak their language? Do you know what they value and what they don’t? Your organization must be able to connect with younger generations, and hiring some of them is a strategic way to do so.

Gen. Z workers may be young and relatively inexperienced now, but they will be dominating the workforce before long. Best not to get left behind.

4. Tech Savvy

This year’s graduates grew up in a world dominated by smartphones and social media, and they’re used to keeping up with tech as it evolves. They have never not had the internet at their fingertips, so it is no surprise many of them are adept at mastering and troubleshooting hardware, software, and other technology intuitively and without manuals.

As we all know, technology tends to evolve at rapid speeds. If you want to keep abreast of its changes and maximize its benefits, consider hiring today’s grads.

5. Skilled at Working and Learning Remotely

For the last year, remote school has been all these grads know. This experience, coupled with their preexisting tech savvy, means they won’t have any trouble getting up to speed in a virtual or hybrid work environment. Moreover, many new graduates actually prefer the flexible schedule that remote work encourages.

6. Educated and Motivated

With more Gen. Z-ers attending college than any generation before them, they may just be the most educated American demographic of all time. A year ago, these students assumed they would graduate into a strong economy, with job opportunities expanding and salaries rising. The pandemic and resulting economic downturn quelled this optimism, but Gen. Z-ers aren’t ready to throw in the towel.

In fact, today’s new graduates are self-motivated and ready to get to work. This is not to say they will be grateful merely to have a job. Rather, Gen. Z-ers free strongly about making an impact. If yours is a company they believe in, they’ll put in the effort to make a difference.

7. Affordable

According to a Deloitte study, Gen. Z values salary less than any generation before it. Of course, they care about salary — but unlike their predecessors, they don’t value salary over all else. Instead, Gen. Z-ers value rewarding work and making a difference as much as, if not more than, paycheck size.

For the employer, this can be an attractive prospect. Hiring more seasoned candidates comes with a price tag, but Gen. Z-ers are eager for other benefits — such as training, opportunities for growth, and leadership programs — that may cost less to offer.

What a Candidate’s Writing Style Says About Them

Of course, you need to do your homework when hiring new graduates. Don’t just assume any Gen. Z-er will do. Vet them as carefully as you would vet any other applicant.

We suggest paying particular attention to Gen. Z candidates’ writing abilities. Consider requiring a writing sample or conducting an on-the-spot writing exercise as part of your interview process.

Given that today’s graduates grew up with texting as a primary mode of communication, knowing how to write a crisp, to-the-point business document may be challenging for them. Of course, business writing is a teachable skill. But if you identify a candidate whose writing is already developed, you have likely found someone who is further along in their professional development and able to contribute more and sooner.

Is hiring a new grad right for your organization? That’s for you to say — but certainly, there’s a lot to like about these young workers.

Bob Slater helped build two real estate companies of national scale and is currently a professor of the practice at the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and an adjunct professor at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business in Durham, North Carolina. Nick Slater is an attorney, entrepreneur, and writer based out of London. Bob and Nick are the coauthors of  Look Out Above! The Young Professional’s Guide to Success. 

By Bob Slater and Nick Slater