What are today's graduates looking for?

'They want great work opportunities where they’re not told what to do and can lead a project from A to Z'

What are today's graduates looking for?

HR professionals are faced with a number of challenges these days, including the “great resignation,” ongoing COVID-19 concerns and the ever-present talent shortage.

When it comes to talent, it’s incumbent upon hiring managers to know what graduates are looking for in a career. But what exactly do they want? Canadian HR Reporter asked Maggie Da Prato, HR leader and business partner at Dialectica, an information services company in Montreal that specializes in providing market knowledge to companies.

“They want to see that fast-track career progression. For them, it’s all about the meaning of that experience. If you just have something transactional, and you say, ‘You will you be doing that, and that’s the schedule, and that will be your paycheck,’ most of them won’t want to join,” she says.

“This generation, they want first and foremost, the flexibility [and] they want to have a great and meaningful work experience, so that means a great career progression, where they will learn a lot and then they will grow professionally a lot.”

As well, these employees want to make a difference with companies by championing projects throughout the lifecycle, she says.

Maggie Da Prato

“They want to have autonomy and the projects that they can lead. They want to have access to great work opportunities where they’re not being told what to do but they can lead a project from A to Z.”

Offering plenty of training opportunities is one of the best ways to fight a mass exodus, found a recent survey.

Engaging in a successful hiring experience also means HR professionals need to begin the courting process early.

“We need to engage them from the very first contact we have with them. When we were talking 20 years ag, [it was] about ‘Let’s offer XYZ to employees’; now, it’s all about the employee experience so making sure that we engage them from the get-go with a great package from a total compensation standpoint, but as well, learning opportunities, the experience, wellbeing, the flexibility, and of course, a great and vibrant culture,” says Da Prato.

As many as two-thirds of employers will be ramping up hiring efforts this year, according to a Randstad survey.

Authenticity counts

Also important? Consistency.

“You can have great values on your website but if you don’t walk the talk, then it won’t fly high. If you’re not genuine about it, if you say: ‘We’ll focus on this or that or we’re transparent,’ and then they look at how we make decisions and that’s not what they perceive, well, you will disengage them,” says Da Prato.

“That’s a key component, and right now it’s even more tangible that people don’t want the politics anymore, people want the authentic experience.”

Those organizations who promise DEI and CSR initiatives but then fail to follow through will quickly be found out and they will not be successful in hiring, says Da Prato.

While employees may appreciate CSR initiatives, the more authentic efforts will have a greater impact than 'greenwashing,' says a study

Top-down management style or autocratic leadership is another one that will prevent employees from signing on, according to Da Prato.

“That’s long overdue… if they don’t have latitude in the decision-making, not necessarily the biggest decisions of the company but, for example, for a project: Can they take initiative, do they have their say in how we will go about this project? They want to have the chance to take this initiative and lead projects on their own, so that’s one thing that will be a dealbreaker for sure, if they don’t have that.”

For HR and hiring managers, honesty truly is the best policy, she says.

“Be authentic, be genuine to know what as a company you can really offer. All companies have an employee value proposition or candidate value proposition, meaning, what are the key competitive advantages that you have or the key elements you offer and all them together, this is your differentiator. You have to be honest with what you’re really offering and know that these concrete strengths, you need to focus on them and making sure that you connect with the relevant individual.”

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