The graduate: how to make the most of your graduate intake

It’s that time of the year again when thousands of graduates step into the world of full-time work. The experience of the first few days in a job can scar an impressionable graduate for life and make them start looking for an early exit.

As an employer you will have invested heavily in finding the brightest graduates with the right skills and a perfect disposition to fit in with the rest of your organisation. So it’s a tragedy that some of them will be left in a corner with some mind-numbing task to do, equipped with a Windows 95 PC and no access to e-mail for a month.

It’s your first day too

When a new graduate comes on board he or she is looking around the organisation and forming an impression. Although the graduate may be on probation for the first six months, you, as an employer, are also very much under review. This is a time when the graduate is prone to all sorts of doubts and anxieties so make sure the courtship process, which began with recruitment, extends well into their first year.

Get the basics right

Make sure that someone is assigned to putting in place all those things that make life possible in business. Get their business cards ready on the day they join and ensure their e-mail address is set up; you know they are coming so there’s no excuse! Take care where you locate the graduate in the office. Don’t stick them in a corner near the loos and make sure their PC is reasonably up to date with access to e-mail, the corporate intranet and the internet.

Induction: beyond the fire drill

The induction process is critical. Over and above the legal requirements, such as pointing out fire exits, this is your chance to reinforce the graduate’s reasons for joining your firm in the first place. Make sure you select someone who is dedicated to the task and make sure the person you select is an employee who has bought into your company culture and will reinforce it at every opportunity.

Development plan

Over the first few weeks and months graduates will want to know that there is a development plan for them. Regular appraisals will help remind them that their development is an important part of their agenda and key to the success of the business.

Keep it fun

Don’t forget, these are young people. Today’s graduates are not the drones of yesteryear, they expect and indeed demand a work-life balance.

Where does the employer fit into this? Well we can start by injecting a bit off life into their work. In a sales environment, which naturally involves a degree of rejection it’s important to keep the energy levels up. As well as team nights out we have a whole range of whacky ideas such as “strip cold calling”- every time you get a knock back on the phone you have to take off an item of clothing.

Look after the non-work employee

If you can help new graduates out with those mundane but stressful problems of settling in to a new area they will appreciate your sensitivity. We try and help graduates find accommodation and even try and hook them up with local sports clubs or societies to help them integrate faster.

The long-term view

Always remember, graduates aren’t going to be at the bottom of the ladder forever. The grads of today will be company directors of tomorrow. So if your company neglects your new graduate recruits, not only will there be a financial loss but those same graduates will go to work elsewhere, probably in the same line of business.

Instead of expanding your business network for the future, your lack of interest may well result in a negative force ruining your reputation and ultimately forfeiting your productivity.

Jonathan Fitchew is joint managing director of graduate recruitment firm Pareto Law and winner of the Sunday Times best small company to work for 2005

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