Nine to five. Fifty weeks a year. Forty five years plus.

That’s a lot of time.

We spend so much time at work, it’s certainly worth spending it well. The Employee Experience means everything.

If it’s bad, people don’t perform at their best, or they want to leave.

If it’s good, employees understand what’s expected of them, go over and above for their employer  and crucially, they do it year after year.

The transition from college to the workplace can be a difficult one. In fact, approximately 71% of of recent graduates leave their first post-graduation job after less than a year.

What is Employee Experience? How Does it Differ for New Grads?

Employee experience is the sum of every interaction an employee has with their employer. New grads are still in the early discovery phase of finding their purpose, passion and the culture they want to be a part of. Compare that to people with years and years of experience, and they tend to ask “What will I be doing in this role?” and “Whom do I report to?”. They know how companies work and know what they want to be doing.

It’s why entry level recruiting is more centered on what makes the company unique, on culture and growth potential.

The Job Hunting Process for New Grads

The search for a job post-graduation takes many forms. Some segue from a summer internship, others spring from LinkedIn or traditional university-sponsored career fairs. The common thread in many success stories, however, is starting early.

Qualtrics, like many companies, does a lot of hiring at the end of the fall semester and the beginning of the spring semester. A prospective graduate should start their job search at the beginning of the semester before they graduate. That’s when there’s the most availability to them. However, most students don’t start as early as they should, creating a job rush as graduation approaches.

Leah Lehmuller, a recruiter at Qualtrics reveals, “[The recruitment timetable] depends on what college you’re recruiting from. Business school students are usually ready to go early. Humanities, communications, psychology students usually wait longer, but it’s a good idea to get ahead of the game.”

She went on to note that spring is potentially the hardest time to recruit, because all the best candidates have been hired early.

What mistakes does an employee make when searching?

Kendra Jackson, Global Operations Manager at Qualtrics, says, “A big mistake I see is focusing too much on the number in the salaries, rather than the opportunity. Making X base salary now seems important, but the big question is what salaries are people making two, three years from now?”

Zack Parsons, a corporate recruiter at Qualtrics adds, “An offer is more than just a salary. Look at company culture, actual hours, benefits, cost of living, state taxes, your commute.” A higher number isn’t always a better offer.

Often potential candidates pay too much attention to the job and not as much to the company. People, unfortunately, get hung up on job descriptions. They feel if they don’t have tech or sales experience that they shouldn’t apply for jobs that favor those skills. Remember, there’s always a story behind every resume.

Applicants should ask themselves: “Am I excited about working for this company and in this culture?”. If you’re at a company you love and are doing well there, you’ll have an opportunity beyond that first job.

What *should* employees be looking for in their New Grad employee experience?

In short, what excites them. What makes the little butterflies go off in their stomach? Not just what they enjoy, but what are they good at? Candidates should also learn what it takes to get promoted and if there’s a good training program. Too many companies plug new hires into their roles and hope for the best without a solid strategy for long-term retention.

“The first thing that comes to my mind is the opportunity to be set up with a mentor that’s going to invest in you and help you understand your potential and how you can get there. It makes a huge difference,” Ms. Lehmuller recommends.

How should a new grad look for these things? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • “ What are my core values and do they match the core values of a company?”
  • “ What are some characteristics of a top performer?”
  • “What are people who did my job doing now?”
  • “What’s the career path for people like me in the company?”
  • “How is the company growing?”

Remember, this is all part of the discovery process. The door can’t open or slam on you if you haven’t started walking through. Take that first step. If you follow the doors that open and if you follow your gut, you’ll be more confident and know you’ve made the best decision with the information available to you.

Shaunda Zilich, Global Talent Manager at Qualtrics, encourages new graduates to ask themselves every day: “What’s my purpose?”.

That can evolve and change and even diverge from your current company, leading you to pursue something else. The more experience you have and the more diverse experience you have, the faster you’re going to zero in on your purpose. A new grad should ask, “How am I continuing to learn and push myself?

A word of caution, however. Ms. Lehmuller reminds that, “No matter what your first job is, there’s going to be a huge learning curve. For the sake of your future career, give it a solid shot. Job hopping is a problem and a red flag to future employers.” After all, how much can you learn if you leave so soon? Exactly how long new grads should stay at their first jobs is a subject of debate, but Ms. Zilich has some advice:

“Stay until you develop to the next stage of your passion. This is just your experience now. Companies have to understand that. If companies develop the process to be about the employee instead of the job description, they’d do better.”