17 Reasons New Graduates Make Great Employees

by Julie Rains

As a recent graduate, you know you have much to offer. From a potential employer’s point of view, though, what makes you attractive?

My work with new grads as a Certified Professional Resume Writer has helped me learn what makes new graduates special. Just as significantly, I have helped senior-level managers review resumes, and I know what they value in successful hires and employees. (See also: How to Make Money While Traveling the World)

What employers are looking for obviously varies from job to job, but many businesses like hiring recent graduates for one or more of the following reasons. Remember these advantages when putting together your resume and preparing for interviews.

1. You Understand a Valuable Demographic That Is Hard to Reach

Nearly all businesses and non-profit organizations want to capture the attention and wallets of the consumer demographic you belong to, 18- to 24-year-olds. But they often struggle to understand the demographic’s mindset, motivations, purchasing behaviors, and communication styles. (In this way, businesses can be kind of like an out-of-touch uncle who still buys you a Barbie when you're 17.)

Having someone like you who’s in the demographic can help the company to design products, craft messaging, and deliver delightful customer experiences to this important target audience.

2. Technology and Social Media Is Part of Your DNA

Businesses want to reach prospects, customers, employees, and vendors through technology. Senior execs realize that there is untapped potential in Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Yelp, mobile apps, etc. But they may not know the most effective ways to use these tools.

As someone who has most likely grown up with computers and other technology, you intuitively grasp how to use things like social media that can confuse older generations. (Have you ever seen one of those business Facebook accounts that's obviously run by someone who doesn't understand how to communicate with people online?) Your experience with smart phones, the Internet, and other technology might seem like a non-skill — after all, it's just the way you communicate with your friends or have fun — but it's also a serious workplace asset.

3. You Are Willing to Take Risks

As businesses innovate and experiment with new ways of doing business, they need team members who are eager to contribute and willing to take on projects with uncertain outcomes. The ability to learn from failure is particularly valuable.

As a new employee, you have no reputation to lose. So you may be more likely to take risks in order to garner rewards and recognition associated with major initiatives.

4. You Are a Blank Slate in Terms of Company Knowledge

Many managers prefer to hire people who they can shape to thrive in a unique environment. In the past, they may have become frustrated with seemingly qualified employees who were too bound to standard industry practices and business models.

A recent grad typically doesn’t have deep industry knowledge that must be unlearned, mindsets that must be altered, or habits that must be abandoned. Your lack of experience means that you can easily adopt your new employer’s way of doing business.

5. You Aren’t Afraid to Ask Questions

Long-time employees may think that asking questions reveals inadequacies, so they often keep quiet. But things like requesting feedback from friends via social media, meeting with professors to gain better understanding (and higher grades), and setting up sessions with adult mentors are all natural for you.

And when you ask questions, your boss generally really appreciates it. Asking questions demonstrates you are eager to learn, have wrestled with an issue (rather than ignoring it), desire to have a deep understanding, and are committed to a project. Your boldness in pursuing and eliciting responses helps everyone to get clarification on big ideas and specific directives alike.

6. Travel Is Exciting to You

Many entry-level positions involve extensive travel. Such jobs may require long hours in the field not only during the typical workweek but also on the weekend. Further, there may be an expectation that you show enthusiasm and effectively represent the company to consumers, vendors, and colleagues on these visits.

When you're young (and likely haven't started a family yet), traveling is a lot easier and more likely to be seen as a fun adventure rather than an inconvenience.

7. Relocation Is Not a Problem

Employers may have difficulty attracting employees to certain locations. Hiring managers may have tried to extend job offers that were rejected because candidates did not want to uproot themselves and their families.

As a new grad, you may be more likely to move for a decent opportunity. Plus, you can accept changing locales multiple times early in your career to gain valuable experiences. This flexibility can be appealing to employers — and you might end up living in an unexpected (and awesome) new place.

8. You Are Passionate About Work

Employers want employees who love their jobs. Self-motivated people who find meaning in their work are generally productive, supportive of coworkers, and promote workplace harmony.

According to a recent study, “Loving what I do” outranks salary among millenials (people born in the early 80s through the 90s) as an important factor for job satisfaction. This scenario is a double win for employers who are seeking devoted workers who thrive on meaningful professional experiences but may not require hefty compensation. And speaking of compensation...

9. You Are a Bargain

In times of recession and recovery alike, companies are cautious about spending. Though many organizations are willing to pay top dollar for the best talent with a history of successes, some are hesitant to overburden their budgets with payroll expenses.

You may be attractive to companies who want capable employees but don’t have a lot of extra cash. As a new grad, you may be more likely to accept a lower-than-average salary (or a salary lower than someone who has been working for a few years) in order to gain experience and exposure to clients in your field.

10. Your Knowledge Is Fresh and Up-to-Date

Though wisdom is timeless, bodies of knowledge grow and best practices evolve. Hiring managers may welcome a recent grad as a cost-effective way to bring up-to-date knowledge to their businesses. Fresh out of school, you've likely been studying the newest practices in your field, possibly with prominent research professors.

Thanks to that experience, you may have information and insights that are valuable to employers, particularly if you work in a less mature industry or one that has experienced significant change due to ongoing research or global expansion.

11. You Are Primed to Learn All Aspects of the Business

You just came out of college — a concentrated period of time when you were exploring all aspects of your course of study. That means that when you enter the workplace, you’re primed to learn all aspects of the business, whether or not they’re directly relevant to the task at hand.

This has a couple of benefits. First of all, employers love having versatile employees. But it's also hard to know where your career is going to go — you may get unexpected opportunities or discover that you don't want to pursue the career you thought. Whatever you plan on doing, soaking up as much information as possible about the business and the industry will only help you in the long run.

12. You're Good at Multitasking

About that aforementioned versatility... employers often need someone who can handle multiple tasks at once and move among assignments as needed. Most employees must maintain a strong focus on their areas of accountability in order to meet both company performance requirements and career goals. You just spent years of college learning how to multitask and prioritize — balancing different classes and subjects, extracurricular activities, and probably living on your own for the first time.

13. You Are a Fountain of New Ideas

Businesses need people who offer a steady influx of new ideas and question existing methods. You probably have a much different base of reference from your boss — you know about different movies and music, have different hobbies, and know different people — all of which can help you think in different ways. Plus, you aren't influenced by what the tried-and-true techniques are around the workplace, which means you're even more prepped to bring fresh ideas. As a result, you can brainstorm and share innovative ideas nearly effortlessly.

14. You Are Results-Oriented

Smart companies are moving towards a results only work environment — a system in which employees are evaluated by their productivity instead of the hours they turn in. Employees in this system are flexible go-getters. If a project requires extra hours to finish, you all order a pizza and stay late to do it. But if you finish early, the whole team can take off early and catch a movie.

This flexible work system can be confusing for clock watchers who want to work a set number of hours and go home, but it's likely second-nature to you since that’s how most people work in college.

15. You Thrive on Change

Adaptability in a fast-changing world is a desirable attribute. Companies must keep up with trends, technology, and more. So many companies especially appreciate employees who not only adapt to, but also embrace change.

People who have worked with a company in a certain way for a long time are usually the ones who dislike change the most. Unlike the older generation that had more of a “you work at one company until you retire” attitude, you understand that corporations may not exist forever, and even if they do, organizational structures, job descriptions, and benefit packages do not remain constant throughout an employee’s career.

As a result, you are likely productive in varied types of environments, and you don’t become as disoriented or feel betrayed when frameworks, assignments, and perks are altered to meet business needs.

16. You Are Collaborative

Studies have shown that thanks to things like new communication technology and a focus on in-class teamwork, new college graduates are more interested in working together and prepared to collaborate than previous generations. It’s a one-two punch — you have both the skills to use new collaboration technology and years of experience working together (even if it was on less-than-exciting school projects). Skype meeting? No problem. Giving your opinion — and listening to those of others — while working as part of a team? You’re ready for that too.

17. You Represent the Future

Millenials are expected to compose “40 percent of the U.S. workforce by 2020,” according to Leslie Kwoh of The Wall Street Journal.

Though many baby boomers have delayed or anticipate delaying retirement, they will eventually exit the workforce. Companies will not be able to survive a talent drain if all of their employees leave at about the same time. So they need to hire people in subsequent generations to assure plenty of in-house talent to continue the business.

Even when the job market seems tight, don't give up. It's tight for everyone right now. Yeah, you may not have years of experience or tons of contacts. But there are so many great reasons for employers to hire you. You have more experience than you might think, and there's so much that you can do better and faster than other employees. You just spent a significant amount of time training in your field. Couple that with some enthusiasm and eagerness to do a good job, and you're a great candidate.

What do you think are your best qualities that you can share with an employer, or if you're a recent graduate who's been hired, what helped you make it happen? Tell us in the comments!


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