We needed to hire an experienced software developer or take a chance on a university student, which we were hesitant to do. At the time we were looking to build a software platform that measured employee sentiment in real time.
The challenge we faced was that software development wasn’t our core business. The risk was real, we needed it to be developed quickly and with minimal fuss.
We weighed up a number of factors:
Senior Software Developer
Pros: experience, expertise, insights
Cons: salary expectations, mindsets, flexibility
Student / Graduate Software Developer
Pros: energy, technology insights, creativity, entry level salaries
Cons: experience, expertise, corporate know how
We went back and forth on which direction to take, knowing that the wrong decision would destroy any hope of this business idea taking off.
To play it safe, we searched for experienced developers and interviewed a lot. While the vast majority had impressive resumes, many couldn’t demonstrate dynamic problem solving.
Couple this with the fact that most senior developers had acquired specific skills in one type of code base and we felt like it was painting our business into a corner.
The final clincher was the salary exceptations, while in line with market, limited the number of hires we could make and therefore the amount of work that could get done.
On the flipside, we’d been reaching out to universities looking for bright students. That is, students who demonstrated a range of soft skills such as communication and creativity, not necessarily pure academic results.
Finding and identifying talent is one thing, which we’ll share with you a faster more effective way later, but once we found a graduate, the interview process was a black hole. For starters, most students have no relevant experience working within a corporate environment, let alone in work that aligns to our requirements.
So, with limited options to assess whether they’d fit in, work to deadlines or produce quality work, we took a different approach. More on how that can save thousands a little later.
mall pool of students, there were a couple who stood out for their enthusiasm, willingness to learn, technical understanding and creativity. What they lacked in experience was made up for in effort – they went out of their way to explore solutions and customer experiences. And as an added bonus, on graduate or student pay scales I could afford more than one!
Truth be told, we were torn. Both options presented risk and reward. We had deadlines to meet and our budget meant we could employ one senior developer or two or three graduates.
On reflection we realised that as a student, we all really could have used a mentor who’d grab us by the shoulders and teach us all the tricks. We didn’t have a developer, so the decision was tough. However, we were good managers. We knew a lot about a job comes down to the attitude and knowing the business etiquette. Establishing routines, managing workloads, handling emails while also delivering to KPI’s are things that we could teach them.
The decision became a lot easier when we assessed two graduates working full time on our project would far outweigh what a single senior developer could do on his own. And yes, we tucked a few of the dollars we were going to save for an external developer to review the project at critical milestones.
Now that we’d decided to hire a student or graduate, we needed to deepen the pool of candidates. We started calling university lecturers seeking access to bright students. In 3 out of 4 cases I was told “I’m too busy”. This was a bit disheartening considering we had paid employment opportunities.
Finally, we said to a lecturer that they didn’t actually have to do anything, just point us to where they hang out on campus and he suggested we speak to the career centre. The career centre at the time merely suggested we post an ad, which wasn’t going to work any better than the national job board we had already used.
Frustrated, we met with the Head of Information Systems at one of the universities. When he asked how he could help, we said we were looking for bright students to which he asked, “what do you mean by bright?”.
This was a lightbulb moment. We were more interested in those students with the soft skills that aligned to our business. If a student could communicate, show creativity in problem solving and take feedback, we knew they’d work for us.
He smiled and said, “graduate attributes”.
These were a series of skills or attributes that students are measured on across course work (teamwork being a great example). When we asked how to access these, he informed us that once the student received the final course grades, the attribute information was discarded. In their place – the academic transcript.
We knew very few employers ever looked at a student’s transcript and if so, it’s almost always to verify their degree and when they completed it.
It was at this point we knew there was a huge opportunity. Imagine if you could search on skills and attributes along with demonstrated examples, such as their course assignments or projects.
In a matter of a few days we had our new employees, but we knew there was more to this.
We knew this information would fix many of the challenges in recruiting students and graduates because you could actually see and measure how aligned they were to your business. On top of this, you’d also get proof that they could do these things.
Out of that meeting, came the idea of a platform that allowed students to show their skills and demonstrate experiences.
Students undertake employability tests and measures that provide insights about their skills and attributes as well as upload demonstrated examples for each.
This gives employers the ability to search specific degrees, locations, skills and attributes to directly access the brightest talent. At the same time, receive valuable market insights to become informed about those “softer skills” that are critical in determining workplace success.
Almost every business can employ students or graduates. Whether they be large companies with graduate programs or a café that uses casual staff, there are cost effective ways to get more done in your business.
Employers now have the ability to immediately access talent that aligns to their requirements with Studium.
Simply search and find groups of students and graduates that fit your criteria, shortlist and view their assessments, testing and examples then simply connect with your chosen few to interview.
Instead of recruitment taking days or weeks you can have a new in employee in a matter of hours.
Additionally, since student profiles are dynamic, employers can begin to identify talent early. Bringing on vacation workers who are studying in your industry means you can identify key talent ahead of the big players..
Studium also provides graduate and student onboarding guides to make getting the most out of your new hire easy.
So what are you waiting for. Get started today with Studium.work