I was talking recently to a head of HR of a manufacturing company in the Midwest about some recruiting challenges they were having. You see, I don't know if you know this or not, but I'm kind of a big deal when it comes to providing solutions for people's recruiting challenges. Anyway – my solution for her was she needed to hire more entry level college grads, because she was cheap and couldn't afford real talent (See! Solutions! And I've hundreds more!). Her response was something I've heard a thousand times –
“We can't hire entry level college grads because they don't know anything!”
You see, traditional HR/Talent Pros expect that a college grad knows something! Actually wait, I'm lying, traditional HR/Talent Pros expect that college grads will know how to perform the “entry level” job that we have a job description for listed on our career website. Like, let's say – entry level “System Engineer”. No experience necessary, expect you need a background in J2EE and know of application development. So, if your college IT degree program doesn't teach J2EE – yeah, we really can't use them. So, I have my bachelor's degree in IT from State U, but I'm not good enough for your entry level IT opening? Yes, correct. (By the way, you can replace IT with engineer, finance, marketing, etc. it doesn't matter – but the technical degrees are the worse!)
I'm not sure how we got to this point, but for some reason HR/Talent Pros in companies truly believe entry level college grads should come to them fully “trained” and ready to begin th
eir careers in specific positions we have open. Why is that? It harkens back to the beginning of the industrial area when many folks would come out of “programs”, not necessarily colleges, fully ready to begin their career as a machinist, electrician, pipefitter, carpenter, etc. – Apprenticeship type programs prepared our 'kids' to begin work. Colleges were supposed to do the same thing, right?
Wrong! And, well, right. We get stuck because we see degree programs for Nurses, Doctors, Lawyers, Teachers and feel like all those people graduate and can go into entry level jobs with their perspective organizations – why can't the rest? Well, they can, but your expectations of what an entry level person can or should be able to do, have lost perspective! Sure a teacher can graduate and teach a class, but do you think they are really as good as a teacher with 20 years under their belt. When you go to have your heart surgery, do you want to be a young surgeon's first case, or would you rather see the gal who has been doing it for 10 years?
Higher Ed's job isn't to prepare our kids for their first job with your company. Higher Ed's job is to create people who are capable of learning. It's your job to teach them your jobs – it's their job to learn those jobs as quickly as possible. We need to stop thinking Higher Ed is going to deliver us finished products. I don't want finished products, I want products I can still adapt, grow and become more than what I first got. I don't expect that Entry Level candidates will know anything – only that they are willing to know everything I'm about to show them!
If you Google “Tim Sackett” you’ll find our Tim, and a truck driver chaplain. Our Tim is NOT the truck driver chaplain, although how awesome would that be if he was!? He is a prolific writer in the HR and TA space who just happens to also run an Engineering and IT contract staffing agency (HRU Technical Resources) out of Michigan. He also writes every day at his own blog, the Tim Sackett Project. Weirdly, he’s known as an expert in workplace hugging, which was kind of cool years ago, but now seems painfully creepy, but we still love him and he’s fairly harmless. Tim is also on the board of the Association of Talent Acquisition Professionals (ATAP), lifetime Michigan State Spartan fan, husband to a Hall of Fame wife, 3 sons, and his best friend Scout. He also wrote a book with SHRM called The Talent Fix, you can find it on Amazon.