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This summer, more than 2 million fresh-faced college grads will be fighting to enter the workforce. According to the U.S. National Center for Educations Statistics, the class of 2016 will include 1.8 million bachelor’s degrees and 952,000 associate’s degrees.

With so many recent graduates seeking jobs, you might think recruiting them would be like shooting fish in a barrel. But recruiting college graduates is not as simple as it seems.

Most company’s current recruiting processes rely almost entirely on the resume and interview as the way to identify top talent. This approach is flawed and too often yields unsuitable and unqualified employees, especially when it comes to college graduates.

Let’s take a look at why this is the wrong approach for recruiting college grads:

Resumes are poor indicators of future performance

Ah, the resume! The be-all and end-all of the recruitment process. There’s always advice circling around about what should and shouldn’t be included in a resume, what length it should be and even what font type.

While there are no hard-and-fast rules about what a resume should say, the standard resume hasn’t changed much in decades (except perhaps for the inclusion of social media handles and hashtags by some millennial candidates).

The issue with the resume as it pertains to college graduates is that it’s supposed to encompass all of a new grad’s experiences and qualifications, which is at once a great deal and none at all.

Most college grads have little to no work experience, which means their entry-level resumes hardly fill a full page. This may lead some to embellish and try to make the experience they do have sound like more than it really is. Or even worse, make it up as they go.

According to CareerBuilder, 56 percent of hiring managers surveyed in 2015 said they had caught candidates lying on their resumes. You can probably extrapolate what that number really is among college students trying to make something of their experience for their resumes.

Top that with the fact most recruiters only spend about 6 seconds scanning a resume, and it’s easy to see why traditional resumes are not a reliable way of finding qualified college graduates.

Millennials, which include college graduates, are now the largest generation in the workforce, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. With proper motivation companies can get a lot from their millennial employees, but that begins with smarter recruiting.

Since the resume is an unreliable assessment of a college graduate’s skills, consider other ways to find out if millennial candidates have the skills you need. Pre-employment skills testing can help you determine whether a recent grad actually has the skills you’re looking for, regardless of a minimal or lack of work experience.

Interviews aren’t much better at predicting a good fit

When recruiters pick a few candidates to interview, the moment of truth comes within just 90 seconds. That’s the amount of time it takes most recruiters to make a decision about a candidate.

Once the recruiter’s mind is made, the game is over. Anything the candidate says will be pinned next to the first impression and biasedly assessed by the recruiter. If a college graduate makes a bad impression, the recruiter will spend the rest of the interview looking for reasons why he’s not the right candidate.

And, frankly, most college graduates will make iffy first impressions—for some, their encounter with you will be their very first job interview. They might be nervous because they’ve never been interviewed before or because they’re not confident in their experience and skills.

A better way to predict a good fit within the company is through custom job simulations and work sample tests, which allow candidates to demonstrate they are able to perform the job well.

According to a meta-analysis of 85 years of research by Frank Schmidt and John Hunter on how well assessments predict performance, the best predictor of how someone will perform in a job is a work sample test. While interviews only accounted for 14 percent of an employee’s performance—and the number of years of work experience, which for most college graduates is zero, accounted for a measly 3 percent—sample tests accounted for 29 percent. The second-best predictors of performance were general cognitive ability tests (26 percent).

The pre-employment skills assessments, work simulations and cognitive tests are a better choice when it comes to recruiting college graduates. They can offer a less biased look at the actual skills and abilities that candidates with very little work experience have, and can help you better recruit capable college grads.

How do you recruit college graduates? Have you tweaked your recruitment process to better find suitable candidates?


  • Anthony says:

    We’ve all had the chance to review resumes from fresh starters and we’ve all felt reticent of taking a risk in hiring one. But they could prove to be a win for the company, and one way to give them the chance to prove their talent is through skills assessment. 

  • London S says:

    College fairs are the right places to gather resumes from college students who will soon graduate, but you need to have a method of choosing the right person from so many inexperienced people. 

  • Katherine D. says:

    A work simulation sounds like an awesome chance for graduates who lack work experience or who don’t have the name of a big college on their resume. 

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