Employers Slow to Hire New Grads

Better economic conditions could improve job prospects for the Class of 2015.

By Jen Schramm Jun 1, 2015
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HR Magazine June 2015 Recent uncertainty in the job market may be slowing the demand for new college graduates. As of April 2015, 65 percent of employers had not yet hired any 2015 college graduates, according to the results of the most recent Society for Human Resource Management graduate hiring survey. That’s a lower hiring rate than reported in the previous graduate hiring survey conducted in April 2013, when 58 per-cent reported that they had not yet brought any new graduates on board.

Uncertainty about the job market and a series of disappointing monthly job-market gains in the first quarter of 2015 may have temporarily slowed demand for new college graduates, as many organizations take a “wait-and-see” approach to hiring while still planning to hire them down the road. At the same time, the survey results indicate that some employers believe that new graduates lack the skills they are seeking.

On the bright side, 69 percent of the jobs that have been filled by 2015 college graduates are full-time positions. And graduates can take heart that compensation for these jobs is not being pared down. In fact, 18 percent of organizations offered higher total compensation packages to new graduates in 2015 compared with the previous year. An additional 81 percent of organizations kept compensation offers to new graduates at about the same level, and only 1 percent lowered their offers.

Top Benefits to Recruit New Graduates

  • Compensation/pay.
  • Career advancement opportunities.
  • Opportunities for training and development.

Top Reasons for Not Hiring New Graduates

  • There are no current openings for recent graduates.
  • It is too early to hire for 2015.
  • Graduates are underqualified for open positions.

Top Skills College Graduates Lack

  • Professionalism/work ethic.
  • Basic English writing skills, including grammar and spelling.
  • Relationship-building/soft skills.

This all suggests that graduates with in-demand degrees or those who can demonstrate high levels of skill and professionalism are in as much demand as ever. The high-demand jobs that are the toughest to fill include scientists, skilled trade workers, engineers and technical workers.

Organizations trying to recruit such in-demand employees are focusing on what they view as the current crop of graduates’ top job priorities. Not surprisingly, compensation tops this list. More than half of HR professionals said they believe compensation is a top priority for 2015 college graduates.

According to the survey, the most effective recruiting method is to collaborate with colleges and universities. And nearly one-half of the surveyed organizations have talent development strategies or training programs for recent graduates and/or other employees with limited work experience—a great way to become an employer of choice for new graduates while also addressing skills shortages.

If job-market and economic conditions improve, new college grads could see their job prospects get better as well. But organizations with jobs that require specialized skills may continue to have problems finding qualified graduates. To better position their companies to succeed, HR professionals will have to continue to work with colleges and universities to find and develop talent and provide ongoing education and training to their existing staff. The Class of 2015 is sure to appreciate the effort.

Jen Schramm is manager of the Workforce Trends program at SHRM.

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