As spring approaches, a new wave of students will graduate their places of education and enter the quest to join the workplace. For new grads in a variety of programs, the situation can be a tense one: as rates of acquisition of student debt continue to rise, many students will look to find valuable work that can help stabilize their financial situation. The stories of grads like Anna Alaburda, who graduated from a California law school only to go without a job in the field for nearly a decade, ring out like warning beacons.
Many graduates overlook the value of small businesses when seeking the job out of school that might propel them on to a longer term career track. Conversely, small business owners tend to be discouraged by the expense and investment of bringing on and training newly graduated employees with relatively limited on-the-job experience, be it for temporary, part-time or full-time employment.
Results from a study by Accenture found more than half (56%) of Canadian entrepreneurs planned to create jobs in 2014, yet 61% saw the lack of specialized skills as the top barrier for bringing more young workers into their companies.
Yet, small businesses are frontiers of opportunity for new graduates. Small businesses need to rely less on arbitrary definitions of requisite experience, and focus more on the character of applicants: many HR professionals will argue that a shared attribute of great companies (no matter their size) is that they hire for character, and train for skills.
In a smaller organization, new hires have a great deal of scope to negotiate their own role and thereby create their own career opportunities down the road. Employees in smaller organizations are often likely to be given greater responsibility and autonomy early on – ideal for graduates who want to work in a management role in the future. Grads that crave responsibility, creativity and company culture will respond positively to the small business workplace – building competencies that go beyond the tangible, resume-friendly descriptors that would otherwise define their skill set.
When considering the investment in hiring a new grad, small businesses should focus on finding an employee who fits their existing company culture like a glove. Think about the value of working with someone who really loves what you do, and will add new life and energy into your workplace. A new grad will be less likely to transfer bad habits and preconceptions that need to be “unlearned,” wasting time and effort in training. New graduates with the eagerness to learn will absorb and integrate by the dint of their own enthusiasm for the environment in which they work, and will be motivated by the opportunities for growth and application of their unique skills that will be made more visible to them in a small business workplace.