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What Franchises Should Know About Hiring the Class of 2024

The Class of 2024 is heading out of school and into the workforce. Just like every year, this summer means new opportunities for companies to snap up the most promising talent from this year’s graduating class. For franchises, it’s a particularly promising moment, and a chance to land enthusiastic talent that’s interested in growing their careers from the ground up.


What should franchise leaders know as they dive into the recruiting process? Let’s take a look.


Lost Leverage, Regained Equilibrium?

As the Class of 2024 embarks on their first foray into full-time work, the job market is still a bit tighter than it was five years ago, but it’s not as intense as it was in the last year or two. Job candidates may have lost a bit of their leverage, but so have employees. The resulting shifts ultimately mean that both sides may have to start coming to compromises again, while the overall market remains strong.


Recent research backs up this outlook. A study reported in the Atlanta Business Journal notes that the quit rate (of workers voluntarily leaving their jobs) has fallen to approximately pre-pandemic levels, but job openings are higher than they were pre-pandemic. In particular, certain in-demand industries, like tech and healthcare, are still struggling to find enough qualified talent.


The result, then, is that both employers and employees have to be more thoughtful and measured in their approach. It’s about being willing to take the time to find a good fit: employers shouldn’t simply hire the first qualified candidates, and candidates shouldn’t simply accept the first adequate offer. Instead, the Class of 2024 is entering a workforce where both sides of the talent equation are re-learning patience and a willingness to truly evaluate what they’re looking for, in order to avoid bad-fit hires and rapid turnover.


This aligns with the outlook for the Class of 2024 in particular. The National Association of Colleges and Employers projects that overall hiring for the Class of 2024 will dip by 1.9%. While this may sound discouraging for new grads, it’s important to keep in mind that this downturn is in contrast to record-high hiring levels of the last couple of graduating classes. The same survey, in fact, reports that over three-quarters of employers rate the job market for the Class of 2024 as “good” or “excellent,” indicating confidence in a strong talent market for these new grads.


The “Wage Premium” and Franchise Growth

While franchise companies may be appealing choices for many new grads – and vice versa – it’s important for organizations to keep the so-called “college wage premium” in mind. The Economic Strategy Group at the nonprofit Aspen Institute currently shows a significant difference in annual earnings for employees with a college degree versus non-degreed individuals. Workers with a bachelor’s degree enjoy a 90% earnings premium, while even an associate’s degree can turn into a 19% premium. On top of that, wages themselves are continuing to tick up, regardless of degree status.


This will, of course, depend somewhat on the demands of each individual field. The highest-paying majors are largely in engineering, computer science, and similar fields. In turn, the wage premium and the competition (or the premium for advanced degrees or specialized certifications) are likely to be higher, too.


Franchises are not as likely as some other fields to be significantly dipping into the highest-in-demand STEM fields (aside from specialized roles in IT, cybersecurity, and similar niches). Still, they’re enjoying plenty of growth on their own! The franchise sector is projected to grow significantly in 2024, with the International Franchise Association projecting a 1.9% growth in number of units, a 3% growth in franchise employment, and a 4.3% growth in franchise GDP.


To support that growth, franchises will need to tap into fresh, eager talent, including the latest group of new graduates. That means getting a stronger understanding of what they really want out of their careers.


Hiring New Grads in Franchise Roles

Today’s new graduates care about work-life balance, along with benefits and salary. They’re interested in growing their careers and pursuing their passions, but they also don’t want to spend their lives glued to their desks. At the same time, they’ve come of age in a time of historic uncertainty, so they’re in search of jobs that offer some stability, both career-wise and economically speaking. This particular blend of “wants” leads today’s young graduates to be particularly thoughtful about the roles they want and what trade-offs they’ll accept.


Franchise brands may be good at attracting these new grads because of the variety of possibilities within the larger umbrella. Depending on their backgrounds and interests, new hires might be good fits for roles working directly for the “parent” company, working for a franchise location, or even moving towards owning a location. To attract the Class of 2024, franchise organizations should be able to answer questions like:


  • What paths are available for career growth, upskilling, and internal promotions?
  • Are pay and benefits competitive?
  • What is the organizational culture like/what is the location’s culture like?
  • What does it take to eventually own a franchise location?


As the Class of 2024 takes their first steps into the full-time workforce, franchises can find a great deal of potential in these early-career employees. Earning their loyalty at the start can lead to long and mutually beneficial working relationships, but companies must be able to attract those employees with a solid employee value proposition and a willingness to help them grow and thrive in their careers. With dedication on both sides, these relationships just might be the starting point for the next generation of stellar entrepreneurs.


About the Author


Nancy Estep-Critchett is a founding Partner of Blue Rock Search, with oversight of the Franchise Practice. She has 30 years of successful working experience as a business advisor and executive recruiter in the franchising space. Nancy has built solid relationships which have spanned decades with industry professionals and internationally recognized brands.

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