Spring is in full swing and that means new grads are crossing the stage and finally starting a career in a field for which they have real passion. This is an exciting time for employers, too. CareerBuilder found that 74% of employers are planning to hire a recent college graduate this year, an increase from 2016’s 67%. In fact, it’s the highest outlook since 2007. And some music to graduate ears? What's even better, these employers are ready to offer higher pay for specific skills.
Those numbers say there’s going to be competition in attracting the grads your team hopes to hire. However, when we think of how to stay top of mind in newly graduated talent, we immediately go to what Millennials want and how Generation Z will change the game. Strategizing for younger generations is great, but do you have your eyes on the nontraditional students who are also entering the workforce with new skills and bright futures?
Who are the Non-Traditionals?
A nontraditional student, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) is someone who does not enter postsecondary education in the same calendar year he or she graduated high school. They have spent time in the working world, even if just part time, for at least a year after high school and is considered financially independent in financial aid eligibility. Nontraditional students may not have initially finished high school, but instead received a GED or other high school completion certificate. They usually have a dependent or dependents other than a spouse and work at least 35 hours or more each week while enrolled in classes.
Need a little more help in understanding the desires of college grads? Check out this post to learn more!
Not so much. In the fall of 2016, Asia Duncan entered a southern California community college in pursuit of a career in medicine, possibly dermatology. As a 30-year-old, Duncan is among the nearly 50% of older students enrolling in higher education. In fact, a quarter of all students are over the age of 30.
Even more, a study conducted by the University of Strayer reported 70% of students questioned were "nontraditional." This shows that nontraditional students shouldn’t be considered those who are only in a specific age range and, in fact, they might very well be a Millennial. While age and generational status has long been a tactic to simplify strategic hiring, it’s time to step beyond the labels and understand what actually resonates with today’s college-educated job seeker.
Don’t be fooled. Compensation is still the most important to college graduates.
Why Hire a Non-Traditional Student?
First and foremost, 74% is a large population of college students. You have more of a chance hiring someone who comes from a nontraditional background than someone who doesn’t. Additionally, considering the various complications nontraditional students have or are encountering during their studies, there are quite a few obvious benefits to bringing one on board. Here’s just a few:
- A Sense of Purpose: These students have gone out into the world and found a role they truly value studying and working within.
- Goal-Oriented & Driven: Whether it be because of dependents or a sense of independence, these students cannot afford to lose sight of their goals.
- On-the-Job Experience: Even if their work history doesn’t directly match their new degree or your job opening, these professionals have experience. They understand compensation, responsibility, meeting expectation, structure, working with leadership, etc.
- Leadership: Some of these professionals are veterans, which means they can handle stress and efficiency while others are parents who have a knack for management of both of people and time.
- Balance: Nontraditional students depend on balance to complete assignments while maintaining a paycheck.
Students’ situations vary affecting the skills they learn, but all-in-all a nontraditional college student is someone ready to sacrifice in order to further their career. And like any professional, they are looking for a meaningful role within an organization who supports their continued development and success.
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Bruce N. Pfau, HR and Communications expert, mentions how many researchers examine generational differences with skepticism, instead concluding that, “meaningful differences among generations probably do not exist in the workplace. The small differences that do appear are likely attributable to factors such as stage of life more than generational membership.”
That stage in life is what sets nontraditional students apart. Their choice to return to school and receive a degree was highly self-motivated. According to one study, the top reason nontraditional students pursued their education in the first place was to get a better job (54%). They understand setting career goals and having the drive to complete the necessary training in order to find the right fit. They will use that same tact and resolve when selecting an employer. Connecting with and hiring a nontraditional student means an employee who has taken the time to consider the position, even before knowing the job was open at your organization.
Though nontraditional students are generationally diverse, they all will have one expectation: a great candidate experience. With ClearCompany, you can rest assured you provide an intuitive application and a highly-communicative recruiting process. Meanwhile, your internal team doesn’t have to lose time and resources on additional administrative burden. Check out the ClearCompany Applicant Tracking System to see how we can help. Additionally, stop by our Talent Management Resources page to download tons of free guides and printables!