May 10th 2008

What do top performing graduates want out of companies these days? Well, its not more money.

StudentsWhat do recent graduates want out of companies these days?

Data touch points from a cross Canada survey of University students in Mining Engineering. I heard a very useful presentation from a graduating Mining Engineering student at UBC yesterday. Michael Fuller (Remember that name 6 years from now) , in response to a past question from an Industry Advisory Committee I sit in on, surveyed students across nine universities coast to coast about what companies could do to attract and retain new grads. (Now this in an industry where there are three to five jobs calling with signing bonuses for every graduate. Ave starting salary is $80k/annum. There may be 150 of these students graduate each year in Canada)

And the biggest issues were not for higher salaries. I was impressed that the issues exposed were in line with what we see in the technology industry. What did they want companies to support in order to be interesting to work for?;

  • Opportunities to pursue more education once they were out of school ( with some financial help)
  • A structured growth program for employees, where the grads help shape their program
  • Mentorship
  • International and multi department experience
  • Compensation for overtime hours (in time , not money), these folks are not overtime hounds.
  • Flexible work hours, such as nine day fortnights, 4 – 10 hour days and then 3 off. Fourteen days straight and then fourteen off when the location is not great. They want to maintain a work-life balance.
  • Evidence of concern for employees and others. e.g. A company with the highest safety rating was seen as one that would also have high environmental and social responsibility values.
  • An HR dept that can be very punctual, with quick turnarounds, yes or no. Job interviews that are casual and personal – learn about the person while they learn about who they would work for.
    • If you really want to alienate young grads use a top grader/behavioral interview method. Seen as gimmicks and not of any value. (This was a surprise to me) These are smart people who want to be treated as such. It is a candidates market where you can not afford to put people off.
  • Very last on the list was stock options and profit sharing.

This is very current stuff for a demographic of high performing 20 – 26 year olds. Did you know that the CEO of Computer Associates is an alumnus of UBC Mining Engineering? Past UBC Mining graduates are now CEOs of major international firms.

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One Response to: “What do top performing graduates want out of companies these days? Well, its not more money.”

  1. Great post Reg.

    I can confirm that these findings are pretty normal for people in my demographic (mid-20s to mid-30s). I have consulted for several Federal Government agencies in the past decade on this topic and the numbers aren’t shifting. Some employers thought that the dot com era was a game changer but nothing’s changed in the post-dot com era.

    Young employees want flexibility and growth opportunities. I don’t know why employers can’t figure this out. When I was last employed, I worked for a branch of the BC Government. I negotiated flex time as part of my accepting the job because I was finishing the tail-end of my Masters degree and needed one afternoon a week off to go to class.

    My boss, who wasn’t significantly older than me, was fine with that. However, part way through my first year, the union got wind of this arrangement and since I was technically a union employee, they tried to take away my flex time because it wasn’t been offered universally to every union employee.

    That, combined with a number of other pain in the ass incidents, caused me to leave their organization. I just got a call from this organization today and they want me to do some consulting work for them. Irony!

    Aaron Cruikshank said on 16 May 2008 at 12:00 pm #

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