There is often a level of "prevailing wisdom" that leads many companies to shun new university graduates in favour of highly experienced people coming from competitive firms. The argument in favour of this policy usually revolves around three common assumptions:

1. Save the cost of training a "rookie".

Someone, usually a productive member of the company team, must be used to train the new, less experienced employee. In smaller companies, this actually can prove to be, at least, a nuisance and, by definition, will lower the productivity of the trainer.

2. The value of the "insider information" a competitor's employee can bring.

While this is sometimes true, unless the new employee had access to information beyond that which any customer or prospect could obtain, this advantage is often overrated.

3. The belief that experienced employees "already know our industry".

Another sometimes overrated theory of wisdom is the expertise that a veteran employee from a competitor brings to your organisation. It's true that the "learning curve" should be much shorter and less stressful, but many employers forget one major possibility: This veteran employee may be hard wired to do things a certain way, may have been trained poorly and may have merely reinforced this inadequate training and expanded upon it.

Many forward thinking companies, however, are having high-level success with a different philosophy. They believe that hiring recent university graduates can bring even more value to their companies than some experienced veterans. Here's a list of 10 benefits new grads may bring to your company:

  • New university graduates are enthusiastic and motivated.
  • What they lack in experience, they often make up for in enthusiasm, which many experts believe can be more important than experience.
  • New university graduate hiring provides the organisation with the opportunity to mold its future leaders. With no bad work habits or poor prior training, young graduates can be taught the way your company believes is most advantageous to its operations.
  • New university graduates provide fresh ideas.
  • Though many companies are reluctant to admit this truth, so as not to throw their veterans "under the bus", it has been proven in all industries, not just high tech, that new ideas often spring from recent grads.
  • New university graduates have cutting-edge skills.
  • This benefit can be very valuable to companies, high or low-tech, staffed with many long-time employees, who may or may not be following a continuing education program.
  • Recent grads often learn quickly, shortening training time, and integrate their new skills effectively. The enthusiasm of new grads mixed with motivation and a wealth of new skills often results in a productive and valuable mix for companies hiring recent graduates.
  • Recent university graduates often provide excellent value versus cost.
  • Without the powerful resume of a veteran, a new grad, armed with state-of-the-art skills and boundless enthusiasm, can provide good value for a very reasonable compensation cost.
  • Lack of bad professional habits.
  • It is an unfortunate reality that, while many experienced employees make consistently valuable contributions to a company's bottom line, some bring job skills, routines, experience and habits that are counter-productive and, sometimes, damaging to operations. Recent graduates seldom come with this "professional baggage" since they haven't been exposed to negative corporate cultures.
  • Strong willingness to get the job done and to excel.
  • Since most recent grads are younger people, they are often not enmeshed in many other responsibilities (happy homeowner activities, youth sports coaching, local politics, etc), giving them the opportunity and desire to totally concentrate on their new professional opportunity above all else.
  • Ability to grasp new information and integrate cutting edge skills.
  • Students, by definition, are constantly processing new information and internalising data in a meaningful way. New university graduates have only recently left that environment. After 16 to 18 years successfully processing new data and concepts, recent university graduates have the techniques companies want that shorten the training curve.
  • Excellent ability to manage "change" as companies upgrade, modernise, refocus and expand. All company executives are aware that "change" can sometimes create chaotic situations in the workplace. Unfortunately, it seems that the more senior the employee, the more resistant they can be to all aspects of change. Recent university graduates are normally not subject to this syndrome. Actually, they often, not only manage change very well, they welcome it.

There is a lot of truth to the cliché, "There is no substitute for experience." But that assumes that people with experience have been trained properly, have performed in a corporate culture compatible with yours and that they remain motivated and dedicated to high level performance. Unfortunately, data indicates that, sometimes, one or more of these important factors are missing with experienced people. There is certainly no guarantee that the recent university grads you employ have all of the traits listed above, but the majority will come to your company as enthusiastic, motivated staff members.

While conventional wisdom changes slowly in business (it's easier to sell a wheel that everyone’s buying than invent a new, better one), companies should give serious consideration to hiring new university graduates. That which they lack in experience is often counterbalanced by their enthusiasm and state-of-the-art skill sets. There is inherent risk in hiring any candidate, experienced or not.

Employing recent university grads can give your staff an effective balance between enthusiasm and experience. Your veteran staffers can impart their knowledge to the younger employees, while the newbies can re-inject enthusiasm and motivation into your professional veterans.