The author George Plimpton once advised the members of a Harvard graduating class to suspend their job searches.

"Don't go," he urged. "Return to your rooms. Life will never be this good again."

Mr. Plimpton told the students that their parents would not be unhappy with such a decision. As he put it, parents would rather say "he is at Harvard" than "the last time I saw him, he was throwing a Frisbee in the backyard."

Yes, it's the time of year again when hundreds of thousands of college graduates leave their campuses looking for something to do.

Some will follow Mr. Plimpton's advice; others will go to graduate school. But the majority will enter the work force, and as bankers-and parents-it is best to be prepared.

Can community banks take advantage of this invasion of new graduates? You bet.

I have often asked bankers, "Why are you hiring new grads when you are overstaffed and are encouraging attrition at the present time?"

The best answer I have heard: "We have to have new blood. An organization either grows or atrophies. There is no way to just stand still."

New employees can be a boon-especially if people listen to them and accept the fact that, though they may be naive, their ideas and impressions can be valuable if properly distilled.

Your reputation for treatment of new employees may mean more to potential hires than salary level. New employees also want to feel that the bank will value their contributions.

Is your bank seen as a place where everybody feels part of a team?

Bank interviewers should give the impression that they want to help new people grow rather than simply to fill an empty slot.

A potential new employee can read some signs quickly. If the interviewer sees the CEO walking down the hall and says, "Look, there is Mr. Bigdome," it makes a poorer impression than if the interviewer says, "Hi, George," and the CEO answers, "Hi, Mary. Introduce me to our potential new colleague."

Another point likely to impress potential employees is a cross-training program and plans to have the recruit work in every area of the bank.

Compare this to the likelihood that a larger organization would send the new employee into one department to develop skills in a fairly narrow area.

If any readers have children in this year's crop of graduates, please take this advice: Don't let your ideas as to what your son or daughter should be doing influence your attitude toward what they want to do or diminish your enthusiasm for the choices they make.

I meet so many bankers who say: "My son became a forester," or "my daughter became a chef" when they wanted the child to become a banker.

But if the child is happy, my suggestion is to say, "Thank God."

When I was at college, we had a chapel speaker who said, "Half of you are Republicans because your father is a Republican, and half of you are Democrats because your father is a Republican." Maybe your children are doing what they do to show their independence or even to show their disapproval of what you do.

It doesn't matter. If they have challenges that help them grow, see what the real world involves and what they have to do to fit in, you can't ask for more.

If they do happen to ask advice, I suggest you concentrate on telling them three things:

Look for a job in which you will be trained in various skills and not just perform the same task over and over.

Forget titles. It's what you do rather than the title you get that is impressive.

If you are not happy after really trying to adapt to a job, move on. The toughest decision is to determine when you have put enough time and effort into a job and then give it up. Mr. Nadler, an American Banker contributing editor, is professor of finance at Rutgers University Graduate School of Management.

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