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Should you hire new college grads?

I recently read an article on the Duct Tape Marketing blog called Hiring the Next Generation.  If you haven’t heard of the site it’s a blog maintained by John Jantsch, author of the book “Duct Tape Marketing”, and I highly recommend both the book and the site.

graduateSo this post was about hiring new graduates right out of college, and it made me realize something.  In most of the examples I’ve seen where a small business hired a recent grad, it was a mistake.  It resulted in moderate to poor outcomes for the employer, and while the employee got paid and got that first job it really wasn’t a very good outcome for them either.  These hires usually resulted in about 2 years of sub-par performance, progressively difficult relationships, followed by the employee quitting.

But it’s not like all of the new grad hires I’ve seen were failures.  I can think of a few in particular that worked out extremely well.  Most of these resulted in long term relationships and tremendous loyalty from the employees who viewed the company as really giving them their start.

So why the difference?  Is it just luck of the draw? Is it random?

I don’t think so.  I think the difference is mentorship.  Every successful new grad hire that I can think of was a situation where the company was able to provide excellent mentorship. I boil it down to one simple principle. 

Only hire a new grad out of college if the job you’re hiring them for is your company’s core business and you have senior people available who can provide mentorship. 

For example, if you're a CPA you can hire an accountant right out of college.  That relationship will work because you have the expertise in-house that's required to mentor that new hire.  On the other hand, if that same CPA hires a programmer right out of college, who’s going to mentor them? That hire will most likely end in failure.  

It's all about mentorship. You have to keep in mind that a new college grad, regardless of how smart they are or what school they graduated from, is completely raw and doesn't know how to do the job. If your company has the expertise to mentor these new hires in their field, great.  If you can't provide them with the mentoring they need, it's most likely going to be a bad outcome for them and for you.

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