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Out of school and into the office

Hiring fresh graduates definitely has its advantages, but company owners must know how to harness their skills to make up for their lack of work experience.
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Keren Pascual, who runs his eponymous public relations outfit, is leery of hiring new graduates. “You have to teach them everything; they make [your company] a school where they learn the ropes, then they leave.” In a lean company such as his, new employees have to jump straight into the thick of things, and because the learning curve is steep, having to train fresh graduates extensively is more a hindrance than help.

But others regard the hiring of new graduates more advantageous than otherwise. Because they have no work experience, new grads lug a clean slate, making them easier to train. At Small Christian School, Angelita Rodriguez says, “We have a non-traditional teaching system, so with new grads, it’s less of a struggle to adapt to the school’s methods.” Suzanne Zambrano, human resource director of transcription provider DigitizeData.Com, adds, “New graduates also can’t compare you with other companies, so it’s easier for them to imbibe the company culture.”

New grads are also enthusiastic and idealistic. They can usually be counted on to put in more hours and effort. “They come up with fresh ideas and creative inputs that help keep our school updated,” says Rodriguez. Today’s neophyte work force is also more skilled and geared toward multi-tasking, says Zambrano.

How do you make sure you make the most of new hires – new grads or otherwise? Evaluate your own company’s requirements and culture and make sure they match the applicant’s qualifications and mindset. After all, it’s better to spend more time making sure your applicant will fit in than waste resources training a new hire who won’t jibe with the rest of the staff.

Some points to consider:

• Read beyond the résumé. Sometimes fresh grads don’t put in experiences they may have which can translate into skills your company needs. Selling at a bazaar could mean sales and marketing savvy; membership in the debate club can be parlayed into negotiation skills; or weekend tutorial lessons may reveal a true heart for teaching. So make sure you probe deeper during the interview.

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• Impressive credentials on paper may not be the best gauge. Both Pascual and Rodriguez agree that some applicants from premier universities are harder to deal with. “They have an air of arrogance, and are harder to train,” says Rodriguez. They may also take for granted that they will easily find another job should they not like it where they are, and have a lower level of commitment. High grades, which may indicate high intelligence, do not always translate into good performance in the work place.

• Communicate what the job entails, and make sure that this is what they like to do. “Otherwise, they’ll never stay long,” says Pascual. However, if they have the calling to get the work done – or at least more than passing interest for it, then you’d know that they will give more to the job.

• Attitude is crucial. Look for values that match what your company stands for. “We look for a teachable spirit,” says Rodriguez, “without this, they won’t last long.” A positive outlook and openness to new things are also important.

• Go with your gut feel. Both Zambrano and Rodriguez have hired applicants who do not seem to have the qualifications or skills needed, but have the passion and eagerness to learn.

After the new hires have come on board, you have to keep them. And to do that, you must remember these principles:

  1. Money isn’t everything. The environment is also very important. Zambrano’s company, for example, encourages staff members to forge relationships beyond work. Hence they encourage company outings, small group meetings, among other “bonding” activities. Other come-ons include opportunities for more training and education, health benefits, and seminars on getting along with the rest of the team.
  2. Provide proper training. Give adequate instructions and time for your new employees to get on track. Agree on measurable goals and conduct periodic checkups to monitor them.
  3. Connect. Have feedback systems in place, and keep channels of communication open. This could be done face-to-face, or via e-mail or message boards.
  4. Show appreciation. Rewards need not always be monetary. Companies have come up with different ways to show employees that their hard work is noticed and appreciated: a written note praising a job well done, a public commendation, paid time-off beyond the usual allotted leaves, and fun awards.

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