Employing graduates in senior roles

  February 25, 2017

For a lot of employers graduates are automatically recruited to fill junior roles, and indeed many businesses will have purpose designed graduate schemes in place to support their new recruits and prepare them for full immersion in the world of work. But is there any scenario where hiring a graduate in a more senior role is appropriate? Most would probably argue 'no', after all graduates typically have work experience to back them up, which is why they come in at the very bottom of an organisation. But is work experience all it takes to excel in a role? Arguably no new employee if ever going to have direct experience in their new role, even if they have tons of experience in similar roles. As a result all new recruits will need to be given time to get up to speed with the inner workings of the business, department and relevant processes, regardless of how 'experienced' they are.

The question then comes down to what is more important? Attitude and a willingness to learn or experience? Most companies will argue that it's experience, which is why they will always choose a candidate who can 'prove' they know what they are doing. But as many businesses find out the hard way, just because someone has adequate experience in their field, doesn't mean they are necessarily the right fit for a company or have the right attitude and behaviours to excel in a role. In reality if given the choice most employers would likely choose someone who is genuinely interested in the role and willing to learn, grow and develop to excellence, rather than someone who is only modesty interested and takes for granted that they know everything, so don't put as much effort into their development. And if the former option was available and easy to implement then graduates would have just as good a chance of securing more senior roles as they do for junior ones.

The trouble is, of course that assessing these qualities is far more difficult than figuring out how much experience an individual has, especially when you are relying predominantly on a CV and an awkward interview scenario to do so. As a result candidates are chosen based on what they've written and how many years' experience they have under their belt, rather than who they are and what they actually have to offer. This obviously puts graduates and other young employees at a significant disadvantage as they caught in the typical 'no experience, no job ergo no experience' loop. However with more advanced approaches to candidate assessment, this can change. Companies can start hiring people based on more than what they've got on their CV, and not only will graduates have a better chance of securing roles that actually suit them (regardless of the level), organisations will also start hiring people that fit their company, and who have the drive and potential to do well, which sounds like an all round ideal scenario. The trick is the get this to become the new norm, and at Happy Work we are working hard to make this a reality.