This post was updated in November 2017 with new information.
According to a recent report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers anticipate hiring of recent college graduates to increase by 11 percent in 2016. Although this is only a slight bump from their findings a year earlier, the report also found that 42% of employers consider the current market “good or excellent” for new graduates. With the competition to hire talented developers at a fever pitch, it’s understandable if you aren’t particularly thrilled to hear that the overall hiring landscape is starting to tilt in favor of the candidates. However, to help you stand out in an increasingly challenging market to hire recent college graduates, here are a few tips to help you stand out.
On paper, it might be scary to think about what might happen if you hire a handful of interns and give them real work. And sure, you’ll probably find a few college students who are so eager to learn, they’ll tell you they’re willing to pick up lunch for your developers for a summer or two. The problem is that there are plenty of other companies who offer interns opportunities to have an impact on actual products. Our CEO Joel Spolsky makes the argument that internships can be one of your most effective recruitment tools. Not only do you get the opportunity to evaluate a college student’s potential before he or she graduates, but the interns themselves get a more accurate idea of what it would be like to join your tech team.
Recent college graduates might not have as much experience in negotiating salaries (or in overall life experience), but that’s not a good enough reason to lowball an exceptional candidate. There are two issues key issues with assuming you’ll be able to pay a younger developer less. For starters, if you’re making an offer to a former intern, you should have plenty of evidence that he or she is perfectly capable of not only doing the job but also of getting a better offer elsewhere. On a broader scale, if you’re not confident enough that a particular candidate is worth market value, you’re probably better off waiting for someone you’re more excited to hire.
Think about all the hopes and dreams you had when you were in your early twenties. Even if you weren’t completely sure about where you wanted to be in five years, you probably knew that if there were no sign of advancement, it would be difficult for you to stay happy in any job for very long. Considering that developers say opportunities for advancement are one of the most important job evaluation criteria, don’t be shy about sharing potential trajectories with recent college graduates. If you don’t have a clear picture of how your junior developers have advanced in the past, take it as an opportunity to sit down with your engineering manager(s) to understand the programs your tech team has in place to ensure that your staff is always learning.