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Commencement Advice

Jun 01, 2016
Financial Institutions

It is graduation season and time for commencement speeches. If you’re like me, you smile at the choices of celebrities various institutions invite to share advice and wisdom with new graduates. Having three children and many nieces and nephews, I’ve listened to my share of speeches. I’ll also admit that I’ve watched a few on YouTube. Graduates of recent years represent the new generation of workers entering the workforce looking to make their mark in the world and start new careers. If projections are correct, there will be fewer of them thinking about careers in community banking even though it is an industry ripe with opportunity! The industry is changing, and the opportunities to offer new ideas and innovation are endless.

Recent survey data suggests that banking is one of the least trusted industries today, second only to the media. That perception is disheartening, especially at a time when 10,000 people turn 65 every day and succession is a critical priority. If there was ever a time for an industry to figure out how to become a first career choice for a new graduate, it is now for community banks. Good hiring decisions are always important, and it is even more critical today with talent pools shrinking and the cost of making bad hires growing.

Those graduation speakers are sharing plenty of thoughts with graduates about how to make their way in the working world. But they offer little to the organizations those graduates will be joining.

With that in mind, I offer the following thoughts, not to new graduates but to institutions looking to hire:

  1. Be open-minded about the position you are trying to fill. Rather than replacing in kind, your best opportunity might be to consider internal changes such as leveraging your existing talent differently, changing your organizational structure, or redefining the work. When you organize a new position, think how you can make it something attractive to someone new to the industry looking to grow and make a mark.
  2. Define the competencies needed for success, not just the education and experience required. Competencies open doors for talent to apply different experiences and educational backgrounds to the job. You will see more “fill in the blank” studies, music, and philosophy majors than ever before. You will also see more not-quite graduates who are just a few classes short. Focusing on competencies can help you tap these sources. 
  3. Consider an assessment that provides insight into behavioral drives and motivational needs of candidates. There are numerous tools available; many are quick and inexpensive. A valid and reliable assessment will provide valuable insights that increase the effectiveness of onboarding and even retention. 
  4. Invest in onboarding. New employees who learn the culture sooner, experience success sooner, and believe that the organization is investing in them will have and sustain higher engagement. The new workforce is looking to make their new job their own. While it is commonly believed that Millennials will change jobs often, the generation is also known to be loyal, as long as the job remains interesting. Remember, your employees’ experience says a lot about your customers’ experience. 

Check out Wipfli’s Human Resources and Selection services to see how we can help with your institutions’ talent management needs.

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