Nurture graduate candidates by recognising their needs


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Start engaging with graduates early and ensure you're highlighting what appeals to them

It might all sound doom and gloom around graduate recruitment at the moment, but one thing remains consistent: competition is stiff and the number of offers compared to the numbers of applications are just tiny percentages. Out of almost 375,000 UK applications scrutinised by WCN and Universum, only 3% received an offer compared to two-thirds who were screened out early on.

Perhaps even more alarming is the high numbers of candidates who opt to drop out of the application process. The numbers of candidates withdrawing, declining and reneging combined equates to firms missing out on 18% of talent in the UK, signalling a stronger need for nurturing and engagement.

The battle seems to be on to win hearts and minds. WCN polled 200 of its clients to identify how widespread this issue is when it comes to graduate hiring and the results show the same causes for concern. Asked what their biggest challenges were, the results were as follows: stretched staff resources (59%), low brand awareness (54%), tech not up to scratch (47%), poor business engagement (24%), regulation and compliance (22%), proliferation of programmes (13%), low interest from target students (12%), reneging of offers (11%), remuneration and bonuses (6%), and drop outs (6%).

In contrast, Universum’s data reveals stark insights into what students expect from an ideal employer:

  • 48% of students would not choose an employer if they do not know enough about them, and 13% would be put off if they felt employers did not recruit from their school.
  • Top drivers for choosing a graduate/rotational programme include demonstrating business integration (52%), development opportunities (51%), mentorship (28%), leadership programmes (36%) and having a variety of rotations (30%).
  • In every country profiled having a work/life balance and offering security/stability in jobs were ranked as the top two career goals for business students. Being a leader or manager of people was third.
  • In every country profiled working for an international company/organisation or working for a privately-owned national company/organisation were the top choices for what students most wanted to do after graduation.
  • Universally across all regions students selected social media as the most used and most effective communication channel, and Facebook as the best of these websites. Employer websites and career fairs were second and third in every study.

Evidently graduate candidates now expect recruitment processes to be smooth, seamless, always personalised and built on authenticity. Use this checklist to make sure your brand is focusing on engagement as strongly as it should be:

  • Is there enough information available to make my brand appealing and/or prestigious to students?
  • Are we visible in enough schools to not miss out on diamonds in the rough?
  • Have we explained what qualifications we require succinctly?
  • Does the job description sound like a career opportunity that can help students climb ladders?
  • Is my employer brand relatable and appealing to all cultures?
  • Have we used our employees to be ambassadors as visibly as we can?
  • Are we showcasing programme lengths, and development and advancement possibilities as loudly as is feasible?
  • Do we talk enough about mentorship and leadership on our careers pages?
  • Are rotations explained clearly and do they emphasise important points such as international work where possible?
  • Can we offer any customisation in our programmes?
  • Are we promoting our employer brand on social media – particularly Facebook?
  • Are we maximising the benefits from career fairs and similar events?
  • Are we capturing specialist and diverse candidates using targeted communications/events?
  • Have we placed our brand on multimedia careers pages – websites, apps, directories etc?
  • Have we reached out to lecturers and university press?
  • Are my company website and advertising dedicated to recruitment marketing as much as I need them to be?
  • Are we being competitive in our offers or do we need to tweak anything?

Charles Hipps is CEO and founder of WCN

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