4 Ways of Getting the Best from Graduates

best from graduatesWhat makes a graduate more valuable to you than a non graduate?

Sure, they have gained extra skills at University. But these are only of use if they add value to your business.

How do you employ graduates in the right role to bring out these skills? Should they simply fill a vacancy?

a return of £5.30 for every £1 of investment

Perhaps it is an opportunity to change roles around to accommodate them. Maybe they’re better in a project role to deliver improvements to your business.

Graduate recruitment programmes generate a return of £5.30 for every £1 of investment and the average graduate pays for themselves within 20 months of starting, according to a report by Lancaster University.

Granted, this relates to the larger companies. However I’d be surprised if this statistic doesn’t also apply to smaller companies where a less formal programme exists.

Here are 4 ways you could get the best from graduates:

1. Project work

There is a widely held belief that a graduate will be high maintenance in a small business, needing a lot of the owners time to get any results. Which will be true if the role they have can only be supervised by the owner and not by staff.

Graduates have learnt at University to manage their own time and work to a deadline. Why not set them projects with milestones as a means of learning about the business? Review their progress periodically.

2. Filling skills gaps

Graduates have a strong skillset when they leave University and need support in applying this to the workplace. For growing small businesses, there will be many skills gaps which existing employees cannot grow into. This either stalls progress or it falls back on you as the owner to progress things.

developed good teamwork skills

Most graduates will have undertaken group projects during their studies, and from it they will have developed good teamwork skills at University. Using a graduate would be worth considering to work with existing staff. Get them to relieve you of the work you’re doing but should be done by your staff, if they had the capability.

At an engineering client, they launched a new website but had no knowledge of how to attract visitors. I took it on as a project and brought in a graduate. I taught her the principles of using articles to attract in visitors and email broadcasts to stay in touch with customers. She took it a step further and began to educate the existing staff on the benefits the website could bring to them.

3. Smart use of technology

Maybe you have introduced a few of the latest tools and apps, but don’t get the best from them? And don’t have the time to get your head round how it all works? Realistically, the benefits only come when the tools and apps are properly integrated with the other parts of your business.

Projects on social media, websites, online publishing, data management, spreadsheets & business systems would all be easily within the grasp of a business or marketing student. With some guidance, they could also design and manage an overall plan which links everything together.

4. Analysis for decision making

Do you analyse sales by customer, industry or product?

Students who have studied business will be strong problem solvers. They have the ability to sort and analyse data for decision making. How important is it to you nowadays to have the details at your fingertips if you want to beat the competition?

Do you know which products and customers generate the best margins? Do you analyse sales by customer, industry or product? Can this be used as a basis for forecasting future sales?

Graduates have a strong range of skills to offer small businesses when used effectively. Mentoring is a key component of what graduates are looking for from employers – the missing link of their development.

For those businesses interested in getting the best from graduates but unable to devote enough time to mentoring, maybe you could consider our Mentored Graduate Programme

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