Employers Covet Fresh Perspectives from Entry Level Hires

Careers
Posted By Terri Williams on August 25, 2016 at 10:20 am
Employers Covet Fresh Perspectives from Entry Level Hires

Many recent college grads lament their lack of experience when they’re hunting for a job; however, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. As one humorous quote puts it, “Amateurs built the Ark and experts built the Titanic.” It might not be such a joke. According to a new survey by Accountemps, many employers specifically recruit and hire entry- level college grads, and they don’t seem to care about inexperience. Some, in fact, see this as a benefit.

In the Accountemps survey of chief financial officers, 23% of respondents are more actively recruiting entry level college grads compared with five years ago:

7% Significantly more active
16% Somewhat more active
65% About the same
7% Somewhat less active
5% Significantly less active

 

So what’s the appeal of entry level college grads? Among the 23% more actively recruiting this specific group, the primary reasons were as follows:

30% They bring fresh ideas and an innovative spirit
22% They bring energy and enthusiasm to their jobs
18% They adapt quickly to new technology
18% There are recruiting challenges at more experienced levels
12% They have lower salary expectations

 

What’s fueling this demand for entry level and other junior employees with fresh ideas, enthusiasm, and technical know-how? GoodCall asked several experts to discuss the top two responses and also offer their general opinions regarding the survey.

Innovation and entry level employees

According to Katie Essman, regional vice president for Accountemps, “Candidates who are innovative are a strong asset, no matter the job function, industry, or level of experience.” Essman advises those who want to be considered valued employees to view situations from different angles and also be open to gaining new knowledge. “If innovation does not come naturally, consider building up this skill with professional development activities,” says Essman.

Essman and Accountemps are not alone. Recent research reveals that applicants can boost their job prospects by volunteering to gain some of the traditional skills that companies want.

Since the desire for this trait isn’t limited to entry level college graduates, Accountemps provides the following five tips to help workers at any level develop or increase innovativeness:

  • Never stop learning. Keep up with trends by reading industry trades and set Google news alerts for topics that interest you. Take courses that appeal to you, even if they’re outside your field. Being exposed to a wide range of ideas is a natural creativity booster.
  • Try a different angle. Look at business challenges from a variety of perspectives – how would your customer see it, or someone from a different work group? This can help you identify new ways of doing things.
  • Take a break. If you’ve been trying unsuccessfully to come up with new solutions, step away from your desk and get some fresh air or focus your attention elsewhere. You will return to the task with renewed energy.
  • Mix it up. Purposely stray from your routine; even taking a new route to work or trying out a new lunch spot can provide inspiration.
  • Two heads are better than one. Bounce ideas and talk through challenges with other team members.

Enthusiasm from new workers

All the experience in the world doesn’t matter if a candidate or employee lacks enthusiasm. Who wants to work with a Debbie Downer who is always negative, critical, or expects the worst?  “Enthusiasm leads to a sense of pride in one’s work, and going to work enthusiastically helps you do better work and get results,” explains Essman. And she says enthusiastic employees encourage each other and foster a team environment – all of which can help to make the work and the workday more pleasant.

An infusion of new talent

While entry-level college grads may not have many of the traits of more seasoned employees, what they bring to the table may be just as important. According to Steven Rothberg, president and founder of College Recruiter, “Fresh ideas, innovative spirits, enthusiasm, and the ability to adapt quickly to new technology are all hallmarks of young adults in general, and recent graduates specifically.”

And Rothberg says that companies understand the importance of adding these newbies to their ranks. “Without that new energy and drive coming into an organization, that organization’s offerings and ways of doing business will quickly become stale and put a damper on future sales – as well as prevent the organization from taking full advantage of potential cost savings.”

It’s a view shared by Jessica Choi, associate vice president of talent acquisition and diversity at Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company. “Particularly in corporate America, at the end of the day, it’s all about effectiveness and efficiency – enthusiasm, fresh ideas, an innovative spirit, and the ability to adapt to new technology ultimately helps us be more effective and efficient.”

This doesn’t mean that hard skills are not important, but many companies are learning that it’s easier to train for hard skills than to try to teach employees how to be innovative and enthusiastic. For example, among some of the top employers of entry-level college grads, Enterprise and PricewaterhouseCoopers provide in-house management training. “Companies want to bring in fresh energy which can be molded around the function of the position,” according to Ryan Naylor, founder of Phoenix, AZ-based LocalWork.com. As a result, he says that more companies are hiring for culture fit.

Naylor also says it’s easier than ever for job seekers to demonstrate their creativity and zest. He recommends that they become social and make it as easy as possible to find their social media profile. “Never before has it been so easy to allow employers into your world of creativity, fun, and bright energy than with social media.” However, Naylor also warns against engaging or sharing inappropriate material – which presents a hiring detriment.

Terri Williams
Terri Williams graduated with a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her education, career, and business articles have been featured on Yahoo! Education, U.S. News & World Report, The Houston Chronicle, and in the print edition of USA Today Special Edition. Terri is also a contributing author to "A Practical Guide to Digital Journalism Ethics," a book published by the Center for Digital Ethics and Policy at Loyola University Chicago.

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