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Should You Hire a Graduate or an Experienced Professional?

Connie Evans

Deciding whether to hire a fresh graduate or an experienced professional can be tricky for any employer. Despite being huge advocates for recent graduates and all they can offer, we also understand that sometimes it’s more appropriate to hunt down a seasoned professional, depending on the requirements of the role you’re looking to fill.

We’re going to look at the pros and cons for both recent grads and experienced professionals in the hope that it will make the decision a little easier when it comes to taking on your next team member! Let’s start with the graduates…

Pros:

  • Cost – A graduate salary is often far lower than that of an experienced professional in the same field. Therefore, if you are a smaller company with greater financial limitations, a graduate can be a great addition to your team, as an ideal starting salary is somewhere between 20k-30k.
  • Enthusiasm – Graduates tend to be eager to learn and incredibly enthusiastic about their first job as it’s a completely new experience for them. This can be great for maintaining fresh and positive energy within the company.
  • Culture – Millennials are often far more in tune with the concept of a good company culture and shouldn’t have any difficulty in appreciating the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, unlike older, more experienced professionals who aren’t necessarily used to such an emphasis on the importance of a company’s cultural stance.
  • Tech – The words graduate and technophobe aren’t often used in the same sentence and there’s a reason for this! Graduates are likely to engage with digital systems well and pick up skills quickly when being taught how to use various programmes which they may be required to use in the workplace.

(To read about some of the other benefits of hiring graduates, check out this article in our Employer Handbook).

 

Despite their many advantages, there are a couple of cons to consider when deciding whether or not to hire a recent graduate.

Cons:

  • Training – Having only just finished university, many graduates will have had little or no previous training. As a result, if you choose to hire a grad you will have to make sure that you have the time and resources to dedicate to training them for their first few months in the position.
  • Stability – Although it is recommended that graduates stay in their first role for at least two to three years, it is possible that grads will consider moving on pretty quickly if it seems to them like there is little chance of gaining a promotion within the first year or so. Millennials are becoming increasingly keen on moving up the career ladder quickly and are unlikely to be content with staying in an entry-level role for too long. Therefore, before you decide to hire a graduate you should consider whether you will be able to offer them the chance to progress if they perform well.

 

At the other end of the scale are the experienced professionals. Similarly to the graduates, there are both pros and cons to hiring more experienced individuals.

Pros:

  • Experience – As the name would suggest, experienced professionals come with experience! They shouldn’t require as long a training period (if any) in comparison to a recent graduate, as they are likely to arrive with the necessary training and a clear understanding of what the role entails. This will also mean that existing employees will not have to set aside time to guide and train your new starter as they are likely to have to do with a graduate.
  • Leadership – Experienced professionals are more likely to make suitable leaders further down the line. It can often be assumed that they will have plenty of experience in working as part of a team in comparison to recent grads. This may not seem like something seriously worth taking into consideration, however, it is worth bearing in mind when you consider the so-called ‘leadership drought’ that has been discussed over recent years. It can take a long time to develop and nurture talent to the point where they are ready to take on leadership roles.
  • Discipline – Experienced professionals are considerably more likely to be more disciplined in comparison to recent graduates. This isn’t to say that graduates lack discipline by any means, it largely depends on the individual and their personality. However, it is worth bearing in mind that professionals have been in the world of work for a number of years, in comparison to graduates who will have only recently left university, which in most cases, tends to be a relatively undisciplined environment where students are largely able to work independently and how and when they please, as opposed to following the more structured style of working that you might find in a job.

There are also a number of cons to choosing to hire experienced professionals over recent graduates, these include the following:

Cons:

  • Cost – Experienced professionals will undoubtedly expect a far higher salary than a graduate and in most cases, their experience will indeed justify a higher wage. As a result, you should weigh up whether the money you save by avoiding a lengthy training process is worth more than the extra money you will have to pay an experienced professional in comparison to a graduate.
  • Stability – It’s not just graduates who pose a threat in the form of ‘job hopping’. If you’re leaning towards hiring a more experienced individual you should be asking why they have decided to move on from their previous position and find a new role, and will they stick around if you are to hire them.

Ultimately, there are pros and cons to hiring both recent graduates and experienced professionals. In order to decide which will work best for you, you should consider your company and what kind of individual it would suit, as well as the resources that you’re able to provide your new hire. You should also think about the role itself and consider the requirements an individual would need to meet in order to thrive in it and therefore commit to sticking around.