Grads don’t know what they want… yet

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My team and I spend all day, every day talking to grads looking to get into challenger food and drink brands. But the more we talk to employers and grads, the more we see a disconnect between the expectations on both sides.

Grads don’t know what they want… yet 1

There is a disconnect, and we see it every day.

Employer: ‘do you really know what you’re about to enter into by applying for a sales role?’

Grad: ‘Erm…well I’ve spoken to some people in the field and done some reading up on it and, to the best of my knowledge, yes.’

Employer to recruiter: ‘They aren’t passionate about sales’

Employer: ‘where do you want to be in 5 years?’

Grad: ‘I’m not sure yet’

Employer to recruiter: ‘They aren’t passionate about sales’

As an employer, you’re likely to dream of candidates who aspire to be National Accounts Managers, Operations Directors or Grocery Controllers. But as long as schools and universities do not follow a purely vocational curriculum, the chances are that grads won’t be saying that.

And if they do, it’s as meaningless as if they don’t!

Entry-level candidates may not know exactly what the role entails or what they’ll be doing, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be fantastic at it. And having now seen hundreds of graduates go into brands, I know it’s the brands that look beyond these kinds of questions that end up with the best talent.

My advice for change

Hiring for a senior role is 50% the person and 50% their capability. When hiring grads, that capability is a much more unproven proposition — and that’s why you need to look at personality traits, attitude and behavioural drivers when hiring at this level. So, my advice is to start by sitting down and working out the top five attributes needed for a person to smash the role in hand.

Where possible, focus on soft traits such as:

  1. Are they good with numbers?
  2. Are they able to think on their feet?
  3. Are they personable?
  4. Passionate?
  5. And finally, are they not afraid to work things out alone?

Once you have decided the top five attributes that you need in that given role, write them down and stick to them. If a candidate fits those traits and you like them, hire them and nurture them to succeed.

There is so much to be gained from considering the potential, and not just the experience, of younger candidates. Consider not just what a candidate already knows, but also what they are willing and able to learn. As we found out when we ran our Grad Programme last month, grads are so keen to learn about the industries and roles that are out there, but they don’t always know where to start.

Brands that look for candidates with a passion to learn, and who then nurture and support that passion, are those that tend to find the best candidates, and help them to become even better.

Christopher Eyitayo, Talent Manager, Young Foodies

If any of this resonates with you and you would like to explore working with us, have a read of our services page or get in touch.

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