Hiring In The Digital Age: What To Consider

Stephen Park

The future is here—so who are you hiring?

As technological advances increasingly impact our world, it’s clear that your business needs clued up, on-the-ball people more than ever. It makes sense, then, that recent graduates may well fit the mold—but just how prepared are they?

As always, it’s important to do your research on a number of levels. Going beyond just the ranking of a candidate’s alma matter is to your benefit. For instance, a recent study by Voucherbox outlines the average number of contact hours that students have while earning their degrees, and it’s not always as balanced between disciplines as you might expect. This can be an important factor to consider when interviewing candidates.

When you have a candidate whose degree has not included as many hours of contact in lectures and seminars as others, find out what that student did with his or her free time. Such gaps in time would have been most usefully filled with work experience placements; particularly in making traditional subjects more suitable for a modern work environment. For example, the English student in University for 8 hours per week may well have been suited to an SEO writing internship; and one would hope that in comparison, a computer science student with 15 hours of lessons per week would have spent at least some of this time applying the theoretical knowledge gained from coursebooks to practice.

Many hiring managers would agree that experience is the absolute key when it comes to the right people for the job. In fact, if you subscribe to that school of thought, you are not alone. A City & Guilds survey confirms that 80% of employers currently consider it “essential” for their candidates to have work experience. It’s also useful to consider how recent a person’s work experience is—in the ever-changing digital world, a year or two can make all the difference in some professions!

These days, candidates are well aware of the variety of different paths they can follow, especially when it comes to digital roles. Despite the struggles of the last decade when it comes to graduate employment, chances are the talented, young, tech-savvy people you want as employees have already realised the value of their skills, particularly in the digital field.

Of course, some will still aim for the traditional city routes of financial security and prestige. They might start small in a company like that, but they certainly have the scope to move up and build a good old-fashioned career.

However, many more grads will opt to join modern startups, with their casual dress, flexible work options, foosball tables, team BBQs, and opportunities to be heard from day one. It’s important when hiring candidates to think not only of what they can offer you, but also what you can offer them. There needs to be a culture fit on both sides.

Overall, it’s clear that you cannot make a hiring decision solely on the degree a candidate has acquired. You need to consider the candidate’s academic virtue, experience, and finally—but by no means less importantly—their personality and personal goals.

For more hiring strategies for the digital economy, see Attracting And Retaining The Elusive Millennial.