May 24th, 2019 | Carrie Andrews, Head of Corporate Marketing

10 Ways to Recruit and Retain Recent College Graduates

Graduates excited about their future

With summer just around the corner, students graduating from colleges across the nation are thinking about how best to begin their professional lives and pitch their education. This also means it’s a good time for organizations to start thinking about how to attract this bevy of young professionals to fill entry-level positions.

With the hiring of recent grads come fresh ideas, paving the way to infuse new life and vitality into a company. These potential employees bring fantastic value-add to the business with their enthusiasm, fresh perspectives, up-to-date knowledge of the latest technologies and an understanding of what consumers in their generation want. To reap these benefits, organizations must have a strategy in place that can attract, as well as retain, these workers.

The following ten tips can help companies successfully connect with recent grads during the recruiting process:

1. Partner with Colleges:

Working with the career centers at local colleges is a great way for companies to connect with future employees through campus job fairs and job posting services. In addition, organizations can get referrals from professors who teach courses relevant to their field to find strong candidates and even future leaders! By finding out from professors who their standout students are in a particular class, companies can get an honest assessment of their knowledge and skills before even speaking to them about a position.

2. Create an Internship Program:

An internship program not only allows students to gain valuable experience related to their major, it can also act as a pipeline for organizations to identify and foster good talent. One of the biggest challenges for hiring managers is finding candidates who fit well into the company culture. Good-performing interns with a great cultural fit would make for ideal candidates that companies would be happy to consider first when hiring. Additionally, when students have a good experience during their time as an intern, they will be further inclined to accept a job offer at that organization and not even look elsewhere. Candidates who are hired after an internship are already invested in the organization, so they are likely to stay longer.

Internship programs benefit all

3. Craft a Strong Job Description:

In order to find good talent, organizations need to create a quality job description. When it comes to attracting recent college graduates, descriptions should be crafted with the new job seeker in mind. Exclude any industry/role specific jargon as these job seekers may not be familiar with certain terms yet and will assume the position is not a right fit for them. On the other hand, the job description must specifically outline duties and expected skills so that the candidates reading it know exactly what an organization wants. If the description is too vague, it may cause qualified candidates to look elsewhere—as well as encourage those who are not appropriate for the position to apply.

4. Develop an Open Culture:

Recent college graduates have fresh new ideas that an organization can benefit from, this can happen only if workers feel comfortable sharing them. To attract and retain these employees, companies must create platforms designed to make them feel at ease when sharing their thoughts. An important integral of such platforms would be validation, as employees want to hear about how and when they contribute to the success of their team, and the company at large. A conducive environment ensures that it is safe for them to express their ideas and know they have been heard.

5. Offer a Fair Salary:

Fresh grads often start their professional journey with the burden of hefty student loans; companies can help combat this by offering fair salaries. With the economy going strong, companies should not try skimping on salaries for entry-level positions as a way of saving money. In this economy, candidates can easily find another position if they feel the salary being offered isn’t fair. Also, to ensure long-term retention of recent graduates, organizations must share with them the potential roadmap with an increase in compensation as their job responsibilities grow.

6. Offer Benefits Recent Grads Care About:

While earning a fair salary is important to younger workers, it’s not the only thing they will consider when they get a job offer. It’s also important to provide benefits that they care about—and it doesn’t end with the health care plan. Offering perks like flex-time or a new smartphone can make the lives of new hires easier and increase their loyalty to the company.

Create a welcoming environment

7. Create a Welcoming Environment:

Once recent graduates are hired, employers can make them feel like they’re an important part of the organization before they even step foot through the door on their first day. Keeping in touch with new hires before their start date can be done through social media, phone calls, emails and employee mixers. Sterling’s Candidate Hub provides a streamlined process with a native mobile experience, making it the best way to ensure a smooth and engaging hiring experience from the initial recruiting process all the way to onboarding new employees. The use of such technology appeals to fresh grads making them feel welcome, helps create positive feelings about the company and makes for easier cultural integration.

8. Invest in Professional Development:

When organizations help to develop their workers’ skills, this investment goes a long way toward employee satisfaction and retention. New graduates are more likely to stay with companies that offer job shadowing opportunities, tuition assistance programs and mentoring. Such benefits help nurture new workers and demonstrate that the organization cares about their growth and career.

9. Create a Pathway for Advancement:

Recent college grads want to know that they can grow into an organization and will have opportunities for advancement. By mapping out clear pathways for promotions, along with timelines, companies encourage ambitious entry-level workers to strive to meet these goals. If they feel like they will be stuck in a rut at a company, these workers will not stay long.

10. Vet Candidates Carefully:

One of the most important strategies for retention is to vet candidates with care. Although a recent graduate may have the right major and a high grade-point average, it doesn’t mean they’re the right fit for a position. Organizations should also determine if candidates have a strong work ethic to get the job done, as well as whether or not they’re a good match for the company culture.

Do you have more questions? Our employer/candidate-based FAQs will give you a great head start. Or contact us for more information and insights.


Sterling is not a law firm. This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.