The Best Ways to Onboard and Train New College Graduates
May 22, 2023
With over two million college degrees granted every year, many companies hire around May and December to attract fresh college graduates that are entering the workforce. While it is great to have bright new minds on a team, some companies struggle or are unsure of how to properly onboard and train these groups of hires.
It is also not easy for the recent college graduates themselves. Many are transitioning into a whole new era of their life and facing changes such as having to move, figuring out new work relationships and dynamics, feeling unsure about their future, amongst other changes.
Fortunately, there are things that teams at any organization can do to help guide this transition to make it successful for both employees and employers. Read this article to learn more about the essential tips to onboard and train new college graduates.
Teach Skills and Offer Training
Education does not stop after graduation when entering the workforce. All workers, at any level, can benefit from learning new things daily. However, new graduates may need more initial support to be successful in their long-term careers.
An important part of being successful in work is having strong hard skills, but also impeccable soft skills. Hard skills are the job-related knowledge that directly affects the way an employee can carry out their tasks while soft skills are the personal characteristics of a professional that allows them to work with others and be effective in their position.
Soft skills are essential to professional success. Yet, soft skills may not have been taught to college graduates during their time at school. SHRM found that three in four employers struggle to find recent college graduate candidates that have the soft skills that their company needs. Some of the soft skills that recent college graduates can struggle with include:
- Interpersonal Abilities
- Listening Skills
- Time Management
The reason that so many graduates struggle with these soft skills is that their education may have lacked soft skills and instead focused on just hard skills. Many college classes primarily focus on understanding concepts and testing knowledge. While some soft skills can come naturally to different personality types, many professionals must be provided extra education to truly master and understand them.
To combat this problem, employers can offer training to entry-level employees. There are many different programs and classes that are available for employers to enroll in so their employees can be the most successful. If this kind of organized programming is not an option, organizations can look at the soft skills that are needed and give helpful tips and guidance to the new hires. Just by exposing them to these skills can help make a major improvement in their work.
Mastering these skills may not come quickly, so it is important to be patient and understanding during this training process. Think of it as learning to ride a bike. It may be something completely new to them and won’t work the first time, but after trial and error, they will eventually master it and it will become second nature.
Understand Their Situation
If someone is far into their career, it may be hard to relate to new college graduates due to the age difference, lack of experiences and being brought up in different generations. While this is common for every age group, there are situations that every generation has faced that may have impacted education.
For example, many college graduates had their education directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020 alone, nearly 14 million college students and their education were impacted immediately, according to CNBC. This event also impacted thousands of companies, which may have caused students to miss out on valuable internships and work experiences. It is important to have an open mind about this when training or even looking at resumes when hiring.
For many recent graduates, their first role out of college is likely also their first full-time job, which can be overwhelming. Timely Care found that nearly 70% of college graduates report feeling stressed or anxious about starting a full-time job. This anxiety also may not end once they officially start their job. These feelings could make them feel less inclined to speak up in meetings, communicate problems, reach out for help and more.
There are things that employers and managers can do to help mitigate this apprehensiveness that these workers may be feeling. Here are some examples:
- Have an open-door policy
- Regularly check in and communicate
- Offer flexibility on deadlines
- Encourage positivity across the team
Implementing some of these policies may lessen recent graduates’ anxiety, allow them to feel more comfortable in their workplace and improve their work performance.
Offer a Mentorship Program
A great way to successfully onboard and make recent college grads feel more welcomed is having a mentorship program for all new hires.
A great example of an effective mentorship program is pairing the new employee with an employee that has been at the organization for two to four years. Pairing them with a tenured coworker allows them to relate to one another about recently starting with the organization, while the tenured employee still has a good amount of experience behind them.
This will not only let the new hire have someone to rely on and go to for questions, it can also greatly improve their long-term retention at the organization. The University of Pennsylvania found that the retention rate for mentees is 72% whereas employees that do not have a mentor only have a retention rate of 49%.
It is also important to note that mentorship programs not only benefit recent hires, but they can also improve the well-being and happiness of tenured employees. Forbes found that employees who become mentors were five times more likely to be promoted compared to other employees who did not have a mentorship position.
Mentorship is a great program to consider implementing to help entry-level employees get integrated into the business.
Hiring college graduates can be risky for an organization due to lack of experience, but with the right training and onboarding, these new professionals will thrive for many years to come.
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