How To Recruit The Best Students Or Graduates AND Make Sure You Retain Them

The success and growth of all firms is ultimately down to the quality of the employees working there and so, when you are on your next recruitment drive, you need to make sure you get the best people for the job. The young people, students and graduates are out there and many of them could well be the ideal person to fill your vacant positions. As an employer, you will know that recruitment can be expensive, time consuming and, at the end of it all, you still may not have found the person or people you really need. So how do you make sure you attract the best applicants for your job or career vacancies and retain them long term for the future success of your firm?

Be Innovative

Innovation in recruitment is essential in not only attracting the best applicants to fill your vacancies; it also aids sustainable recruitment. Making your company more visible and accessible to those you are hoping to recruit in the future means your applicants will know more about your company and its ethos beforehand. When you are recruiting further down the line, this means you are more likely to attract young people, students and graduates who will be proud to be a part of your company and so they are more likely to remain in the job longer.

Just as your firm will be hoping for innovation and dynamism from your new young recruits, they in turn will be looking to work for a company that is equally innovative and dynamic. And, when they stay in the job, this ultimately means you save time and money in the future.

Have you studied your recruitment policy recently? If it doesn’t match the image of your company, make some changes to it so that it reflects what you are about and ensures you are attracting the best applicants for your roles.

Consider Doing Your Own Recruitment

Outsourcing your recruitment to recruitment companies can be invaluable when you are pushed for time but there is also the risk that you could end up with a batch of candidates who don’t exactly match your requirements. This means you either don’t fill your vacancies or your new graduate recruit disappears as soon as they receive an offer that more suits them.

Many companies are now mixing different strategies and treating their recruitment as a long term, ongoing process rather than a one-off drive when the need arises. Rather than taking a shot in the dark and inviting people for interview purely from what that person has written on their CV and application form, they are getting to know young people, students and graduates over a period of time via a variety of sources. These days, thanks to the internet and the ever-evolving world of social media, that task has been made even easier, and it means you can also build your brand as a good employer.

So what are the strategies you can employ for more targeted and sustainable recruitment?

Leverage Your Online Presence

These days, an ‘online presence’ is not just about having a static website that just sits idly on the internet, buried somewhere deep down in the Google rankings. The use of different online strategies such as jobs boards like E4S, and social media channels and integrating those with your company website, should be an integral part of your online presence. After all, social media is where all those young people, students and graduates are hanging out online these days and those are the people you want to reach.

Your own company website is a valuable recruitment tool

First of all, have you got a ‘Job Vacancies’, ‘Careers’ or ‘Work For Us’ page on your website? This makes you immediately accessible to young recruits. What’s on that page? How are you making your company look appealing to potential applicants?

One very effective way to make your company look fun and dynamic is through staff testimonials. A few short videos from your young staff members where they describe their typical day, the challenges they face and what they most love about working for your company will go a long way in building trust and appealing to other young people you might want to recruit. Choose a person from each department who is willing to talk on camera, right from entry level jobs through to people on your graduate programmes, if you have them. Students and graduates are more likely to relate to people who could well be the their fellow team members and colleagues.

Videos such as this can be stored on YouTube and embedded into the recruitment page on your company website.

You could also have your own jobs board on your website. If your vacancies arise as and when, make sure they’re visible on your website. If you have set recruitment dates for big groups of temporary staff (for example, if you need extra hands over the Christmas period or you run a company that employs lots of seasonal summer staff) are these clearly visible on your website? And because you are doing your own recruitment, you can tailor these vacancies to attract exactly the type of people you want in your company.

Is your website up to date?

Also, when was the last time you spruced up your firm’s website? Young people want to know they’re going to work for a forward thinking, dynamic company that is going to excite and challenge them in their new role. Your website is an advert not just for what your company offers its buyers and customers but also an advert for future recruits. Does it look fresh and new? If it looks tired, dull and boring, potential young recruits could assume your company is tired, dull and boring.

Is your website mobile friendly?

These days, mobile phones are more likely to be smart phones and the number of young people viewing websites and social media outlets via their mobile is increasing. According to this research by NewMedia TrendWatch, by 2014, two thirds of the UK population will be smartphone users and the highest percentage of those people will be 18-24 year olds; your target student and graduate recruits. Your site must be mobile friendly.

Incorporate a blog into your website

Blogging is a highly effective way to drive traffic to your website and also build your online presence. You can use it to not only write about industry developments but also show daily life in your company. Ask young members of staff to write guest posts about their job, post about your social events or team building exercises and encourage comments and discussion. These are all good ways to attract and retain young people within your firm.

Job Boards

Did you know there is currently a rise in the number of young people using online job boards to look for work? Social media is going to be a big part of your online strategy but this should be interlinked with the use of job boards. A well written advert can still attract suitable candidates and therefore lead to good retention, especially if, like E4S, that job board is a trusted brand in itself and attracts students and graduates who are serious about looking for work.

A jobs board is a one stop shop for students who might be busy with last minute studies, essays and exams. You can link to your newly freshened up website from there and introduce your company to perfect candidates. And, if you have a good social media presence (we go further into this below), chances are, the young people looking for work might know your brand, anyway.

How Are You Leveraging Social Media?

These days, social media is more than just a tool for taking peeks at the profile of your potential employees to see what they get up to outside of work. As this article in HR Magazine says, although a recent survey of recruiters has revealed this still goes on, 77% of recruiters said they hired someone after finding them on social media.

Social media is free to use and also, more importantly, is packed full of young users. These are all the young people – school leavers, students and graduates – you can tap into and these are also the places for you to advertise yourself as a good employer to these young people. Also, if you are recruiting for particular roles and you have built up good relationships, your young social media followers are good referrers. They may well know just the person or people to fill your vacant positions.


Have you got a company Facebook page? If not, they are easy to set up and this is a place where you can encourage interaction between your company and the people who like your page. It’s a good way to get to know the types of people you would like to recruit. Where necessary, you can also use your Facebook page to do targeted posts so that they reach people in certain geographic areas or people of a particular age group.


Despite the fact you only have 140 characters to play with in any one tweet, as well as networking, you can also keep up with developments in your industry and follow recent recruitment trends. Twitter chats can also be organised between groups of people; a good tool you could leverage for remote recruitment purposes.


Young people in the United Kingdom are watching YouTube videos more and more. All those staff recruitment videos for your website can be stored on YouTube and embedded into your website. YouTube is now also the number 2 search engine on the net so you shouldn’t be ignoring this as a tool for attracting students and graduates to your company.


Google+ has had a mixed response from many social media users but that does not mean you should disregard it. Google+ Communities can be invaluable for creating discussion and getting to know what young people are looking for from their jobs and careers. Either join different ones or set one up yourself. Google+ hangouts are free and can also be good for interviews if your candidate lives a long way away because you can speak face to face. You can have multiple people in Google+ hangout so they are a useful recruitment tool for more informal group chats if you need to recruit a number of people for seasonal work.

Other Online Tools to Consider


Of course, LinkedIn is a valuable recruitment tool – it’s a social media outlet designed purely for that reason. It’s worth bearing in mind however that many users of LinkedIn in the United Kingdom tend to be professionals who keep their profiles up to date on there as a way of ‘passive job seeking.’ Depending on the type of vacancies you are recruiting for LinkedIn may or may not be useful to you.


We have written about essential interview questions to find the best student employees, previously. So, once you think you have a school leaver, student or graduate in mind for your vacancy or vacancies because of all the online work you’ve done, utilise these interview techniques and at the end of all this, you could well have taken the perfect person onboard and you should be able to retain them for the long term.

In summary

Recruitment can be a nightmare for companies because it can result in lots of time, expense, the wrong recruit – and then the cycle begins again. Employ a long term strategy for your recruitment using a variety of strategies, such as job boards and social media, that work cohesively and you should be able to find students and graduates who want to work for you and, in turn, who you want to carry your company forward.

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