Taking on entry-level tech hires can be quite a challenge. In a recent study from The National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers say they plan to hire 2 percent more recent grads from the Class of 2013. This figure is way down from the 13 percent they predicted in the fall of 2012.
For those of you interested in finding an entry-level tech employee, the hiring process has the potential to feel like a shot in the dark. Recent graduates generally lack experience-packed resumes and often have a hard time articulating their interests and strengths. As the Class of 2013 makes their debut on the entry-level job market, it’s crucial to switch up your hiring methods to land a highly qualified match for your company.
Getting the best entry-level talent is a surefire way to set you ahead of your competition. Here are six ways to make better entry-level hires:
1. Tap into your network. Today, strong connections are the gateway to better hires. So do you know anyone who can refer a good match for your entry-level position? It might be a current employee or even a client. Opening the door to referred candidates will give you more insight into their experience than a cover letter and resume. Consider establishing a referral program with incentives for your employees and even those you’re in contact with outside of your company.
2. Leave your mark on educational gatekeepers. Developing strong ties with colleges and universities will put you first in line when it comes to accessing top students for your entry-level tech positions. If there aren’t any schools in your area with strong computer science or technology programs, begin connecting with top universities across the nation. Reach out to career centers, department heads, professors, and even academic advisors. These individuals will be happy to connect you with talented and well-matched students for your position.
3. Ask the right questions. Simply rambling off a list of half-hearted and generic interview questions won’t help you probe top entry-level candidates. Structure your interview to accurately detect whether your entry-level candidates have what it takes to excel in the position and at your company. Nail down your must-have skills, traits, and experiences to generate beneficial questions.
For example, if you’re looking for someone with expert trouble-shooting abilities, ask them about a time when they felt they put this ability to the test. Take the question further by asking why they decided to handle it the way they did and to explain the most challenging part of the situation.
4. Try before you buy. Why not pull entry-level candidates from your current or previous internship classes? If your internship program is structured correctly, you should be familiar with what kind of success your interns have had during their time at your company. Plus, they’ll already have a strong grasp of your company culture and day-to-day processes, eliminating time spent onboarding.
The great news about hiring interns for entry-level positions is that they tend to stick around longer. In fact, after five years nearly 63 percent of intern hires were still with the company, as opposed to 48 percent of outside hires. Considering your interns for entry-level positions will save you money in the long run.
5. Put them to the test. Although your entry-level candidate’s resume may point to a perfect fit for your position, it doesn’t mean they have what it takes. Test your candidate’s skills by presenting them with an assignment of actual work they will encounter in the position. Consider allotting a timeframe after the interview to complete this competency assignment of your choosing. The finished product will give you insight into their actual abilities, rather than simply hoping they’re as good as they say they are.
6. Play to their needs. Your entry-level hires are part of the Millennial generation. Bringing in top candidates means offering up job perks on par with their interests. With 64 percent of Millennials interested in occasionally working from home, offering telecommuting options for increased flexibility might be a worthy addition to your job description. Your Millennial entry-level hires are also looking for a position involving some sort of professional mentorship. Make your willingness to mentor and train your entry-level hires a key part of the position.
Hiring exceptional entry-level tech employees starts with improving your hiring processes. Use these tips so your company doesn’t fall behind.
What are some of the best ways you’ve found to make better entry-level hires?
Guest author Ashley Mosley is Community Engagement Manager of InternMatch, an online platform connecting the best intern candidates and employers. Connect with Ashley and InternMatch on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.