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Updated Apr 04, 2024

Comparing Candidates: Should You Hire Experienced Workers or Recent College Graduates?

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Skye Schooley, Senior Lead Analyst & Expert on Business Operations

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There was a time when one could land a great job right out of college. The United States Census Bureau found that in 1940, less than 5 percent of adults aged 25 years and older held a bachelor’s degree or higher. Having a college degree helped people stand out from their peers. It was an affirmation that a person had the necessary skills and mindset to be a productive and competent employee. However, a recent Census Bureau found that nearly 50 percent of Americans in this age group now have some form of a college degree.

Since a college education has become so common, it is often seen as a basic requirement for job entry. In today’s job market, many employers are prioritizing experience over education. The question many now ask is, which is the better way to go? While a seasoned employee can bring a lot to the table, there are also many benefits to hiring a recent grad. Learn about the pros and cons of each to determine which one is the right fit for your company.

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Should you hire recent college graduates or experienced workers?

There are risks and benefits associated with hiring experienced workers and recent college graduates. New grads are often affordable, flexible and motivated but it may cost your business more time and money to train them properly. Meanwhile, experienced workers have the knowledge and expertise that new grads lack but can cost more and resist change.

To some degree, hiring the right employee for your business is going to vary on a case-by-case basis, but we found a few scenarios in which one type of applicant may be better than the other.

The best time to hire a recent college graduate is when you:

  • Are filling an entry-level position.
  • Have a limited budget for employee wages.
  • Have the time and resources to train, mentor and develop the employee to do things in a particular manner.
  • Want an employee who brings a fresh perspective to your company or industry.
  • Want an employee who knows the latest industry trends and techniques.
  • Want a flexible and adaptable employee who is eager to learn.

The best time to hire an experienced worker is when you:

  • Are filling a mid- to senior-level position.
  • Are filling a role that requires a deep level of knowledge, skills and expertise.
  • Want an employee who comes with an established professional network.
  • Are hiring for a complex role that requires immediate results.
  • Don’t have the time or resources to provide the new employee with extensive training.
  • Want an employee with leadership qualities and can act as a mentor to other workers.

Before making any hiring decision, carefully consider the candidate as a whole and what that individual can contribute. In addition to identifying how well the employee will fit the job description, be sure to evaluate soft skills and culture fit.

TipBottom line

If you’re looking for assistance with hiring the best employees for your company, consider partnering with a highly rated PEO service or a top human resources outsourcing service to find the right person. Some companies like ADP and Insperity offer both options. Read our review of ADP and review of Insperity to learn more.

Benefits and disadvantages of hiring recent college graduates

While hiring new grads can benefit your business, learning about the pros and cons before adding them to your payroll is crucial. [Read related: Hiring for Attitude: What the Numbers Show]


Here are some advantages of hiring a recent college graduate to work for your organization:

  • Motivation for growth: Job seekers who are fresh out of college are often eager to jump into their careers and learn the tricks of the trade. This type of energy and motivation is not only great for building company morale but can also lead them to be more proactive in learning and taking on new projects. 
  • Up-to-date skills: New college grads are up to date on the current trends in their field. Since they just spent the past four to six years learning the newest guidelines and techniques, they can bring this knowledge to your company. This is especially important if rules and regulations fluctuate often in your industry.
  • Lower wages: If you hire a new graduate, you can offer a much lower wage than you would with an experienced applicant. Most college graduates will be grateful to have the opportunity to gain experience in exchange for a lower starting salary. This is an excellent way for companies to save money on their employee compensation expenses.
  • Trainable employees: Another advantage is that employees with little to no experience won’t have predeveloped habits that you need to reform. Instead, you can teach them to do things according to your company’s specific methods.
  • Availability and flexibility: Although this isn’t true for all new grads ― especially with many individuals going back to college later in life ― many recent college graduates have flexible schedules and availability. Young job seekers are less likely to have as many responsibilities as older, more seasoned job seekers, which is ideal if you need them to work longer hours or potentially relocate.
Did You Know?Did you know

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), employers are expected to hire 3.9 percent more graduates from the Class of 2023 than they did from the previous year.


Here are some disadvantages of hiring a recent college graduate to work for your organization:

  • Lack of experience: A recent survey found that 63 percent of employers who’ve worked with recent college graduates say they frequently can’t handle their workload. Although new grads may come with college-learned knowledge, they lack the experience that their seasoned counterparts have acquired. This means you may need to spend more time training them and managing their performance when they first start. It’s important to note that this is often not too much of a burden if you have competent new hires as they can learn and adapt quickly.
  • Investment in training: Newly minted employees require a significant investment in training, especially if you operate in a field that requires extensive knowledge. The study also shows that many recent grads lack basic professionalism (57 percent) and communication skills (52 percent) ― so these may be additional areas you need to train them on. If the new grad doesn’t work out, then your company may potentially lose thousands of dollars.
  • Higher turnover: Job hopping has become a common behavior in young employees, especially for those just starting their careers. When you hire a recent grad, there is always the possibility that they are using you to gain experience to get further in their career. This can result in a higher turnover rate for your company.
FYIDid you know

To calculate your employee turnover rate, you divide the number of employees who left your organization in a given time period by the average number of employees you have. You then multiply that number by 100.

Benefits and disadvantages of hiring experienced workers

Before you hire seasoned workers, it is just as essential to know the pros and cons of doing so. 


These are some advantages of hiring an experienced professional to work for your organization:

  • Know-how: Since seasoned workers come with years of experience, it is likely that you won’t need to spend as much time or money training them. This can result in immediate productivity for your business.
  • Independent workers: Experienced professionals know how to operate in the workplace, which means they will likely require less hand-holding from management.
  • Industry knowledge: Through their years of working in the industry, these employees have developed an arsenal of knowledge and expertise. In addition to utilizing these skills in the workplace, they can also help educate less experienced employees.
  • Promotable employees: Experienced workers can adapt to the position they are hired for quickly, especially if it is a role that they have performed before. This often allows them the ability to quickly level up and possibly be promoted to a more senior position.
  • Long-term retention: Compared to graduates who might be exploring career options, experienced professionals are more likely to stay with a company for longer periods, reducing hiring and training costs associated with frequent turnover.
Did You Know?Did you know reported that nearly 4 in 10 employers avoid hiring recent college grads in favor of older employees.


These are some of the potential downsides of introducing an experienced professional into your team:

  • High cost: Bankrate found that the average college graduate’s starting salary is around $58,862 but many seasoned professionals will expect to be paid much more. Those with experience expect and deserve to be paid for the years of sweat equity they invested in developing their skills. This means that you need to budget for a higher starting salary when hiring an experienced professional.
  • Resistance to change: Some experienced employees who transition to your company may have difficulty adapting to new procedures and processes. “We’ve always done it this way” is a common phrase uttered by those resistant to change.
  • Obsolete methods: Many employers assume that just because someone has great experience in a certain field that he or she will be best suited for the job. This isn’t always true. Some experienced workers may have outdated skills that need to be refreshed.

Alex Vanover contributed to this article.

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Skye Schooley, Senior Lead Analyst & Expert on Business Operations
Skye Schooley is a human resources writer at and Business News Daily, where she has researched and written more than 300 articles on HR-focused topics including human resources operations, management leadership, and HR technology. In addition to researching and analyzing products and services that help business owners run a smoother human resources department, such as HR software, PEOs, HROs, employee monitoring software and time and attendance systems, Skye investigates and writes on topics aimed at building better professional culture, like protecting employee privacy, managing human capital, improving communication, and fostering workplace diversity and culture.
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