Graduate Recruitment – Key Challenges Faced By Employers

Do you have a graduate recruitment policy in your workplace? Or, are you looking to recruit graduates in the future in order to drive your company forward? University graduates make up some of Britain’s best young talent and will play a major role in the future success of the British economy.

You want this young talent to be a part of your workforce but first, there are challenges to overcome. How do you get these graduates to apply for your vacancies? This is one of the key challenges facing employers who are looking to recruit graduates. There are many reasons why employers face these challenges and we will address some of these reasons in this article and looks at some strategies that can be employed so that you become a company where graduates want to be seen to be kick starting their career.

The AGR (Association of Graduate Recruiters) often carry out surveys associated with graduate recruitment and one such survey identified the challenges faced by recruiters when it comes to not only attracting graduates to posts but also finding graduates.

University graduates come from many different cultural, social, economic and academic backgrounds so it is important for recruiters to remember that a one-size-fits-all strategy could mean missing out on some of the top talent out there. Here are some of the challenges listed by members of the AGR. Have you experienced the same issues and, if so, have you successfully designed solutions to your problem or are you still looking for some answers?

Key Challenges When Recruiting Graduates

Some of the key challenges as listed by the Graduate Recruitment Bureau are:

  • Achieving diversity targets – Does your company attract applications from a diverse range of graduates in relation to gender, ethnic background and socio-economic background?
  • Improving students’ perceptions of your company or organisation – As an employer, do you know what young people and graduates think about your company? Have they got a positive impression about what you stand for and what you do?
  • Increasing the quality of graduates recruited – For some graduate jobs, you might be an employer at a company that needs graduates with specialised skills in particular areas such as STEM subjects. For other employers, you might be struggling to attract candidates with the relevant experience or academic background.
  • Attracting more applicants for work placements and internships – If your company is struggling to attract a good number of quality applicants, what are the strategies you could use to address this?
  • Boosting the company’s profile on campus – If you are looking to attract top quality graduates, have you got a presence in the universities around the UK? Do graduates know you exist?
  • Increased competition from other employers – How do you fare in the competition stakes when it comes to attracting top graduates? Are you finding that you lose out to other companies? If so, what are the reasons for this?
  • Reducing the number of applications for graduate vacancies – For some of you, as employers, you might find that your graduate vacancies attract a whole raft of applications and these are taking up valuable time when narrowing down the pool.

So, these are just some of the challenges that employers have said they face when it comes to graduate recruitment and you might be facing the same challenges, yourself, with your company. If this is the case, let’s take a look at some potential solutions and strategies that you could employ so that you are recruiting the best graduates and recruiting them efficiently.

Strategies And Solutions To Challenges In Graduate Recruitment

Achieving Diversity Targets

Achieving diversity targets can prove difficult for some companies. Diversity in the workplace can be really beneficial for the future success of a company so setting diversity targets and striving to achieve them is a win win for both you and the graduates who might be overlooked or completely missed. There are quality graduates out there who might not be applying for your roles because, for whatever reason, they feel your company won’t want to employ them.

Whatever type of company you are recruiting for, there are various strategies you can put into place so that you can become a more inclusive company. And, once you have built a reputation as an employer that takes action to ensure inclusivity and diversity in the workplace, you should attract more applications from graduates from all walks of life.

Take a look at this article about inclusivity in the workplace for some tips and strategies that might be useful in helping you to achieve your diversity targets.

Improving Students’ Perceptions Of Your Company Or Organisation

There are different ways you can brand your company so that students (your eventual graduates) have a good impression of it and, ultimately, have you in their sights as a place where they would like to begin their graduate career.

Whilst an attractive starting salary is a definite bonus, millennials are said to be looking for much more than financial benefits from their graduate jobs. They want to work for a company that has values matching their own and that shows it cares about the environment it is operating in.

Having a presence in the local community can really help to boost students’ perceptions of your organisation. Quality staff development schemes, investment in wellness, charity work, environmentally-friendly work space, employing students on a part time basis or having work experience programmes. All of these can boost the good reputation of your company and a strong online presence can ensure that students are aware of all the work that you do.

Increasing The Quality Of Graduates Recruited

Graduate recruitment can be both a time consuming and a costly process so when you do eventually employ what you will hope will be your new bright stars of the future, you want them to be top quality.

There are some recruiters who might be recruiting for a role that attracts a raft of applications from top quality graduates each time the recruitment process begins. And then there are some of you who are part of an organisation that inevitably has those hard to fill roles. The skills gap in the UK is certainly a challenge that needs to be faced by both universities and companies and organisations and there are steps you can take to attract graduates to roles and also make sure they are the best recruits.

If you are a company that employs graduates in fields where the skills gap is more pronounced than others, then there are some strategies you can use to ensure you contribute towards bridging the gap. And if you are recruiting for a company that seems to have many hard to fill roles, take a look at these tips for getting those positions filled.

Attracting More Applicants For Work Placements And Internships

In a previous article, we highlighted some of the benefits of offering internship programmes to students and graduates. They are a very effective way of recruiting young people to your graduate programmes because you get to ‘try before you buy.’ Your graduate also already knows the company so if they accept a place on your graduate programme, you know it is because they want to be there. Work placements and internships are good for your recruitment budget and your staff retention.

However, if you have taken the step of building and offering work placements and internships, you might be in a similar camp to other recruiters; facing the challenge of actually attracting the applicants for these positions.

Getting your name out there as a good place for young people to work is important. This can be done by having a killer website with a recruitment section that appeals to young people. Can you use a referral system? Any students or graduates that are currently working for you or doing internships with you can recommend other students you might want to target. If you are targeting any particular universities, have you got a presence on campus so that you are at least on the radar of students and graduates who are looking for placements?

Boosting The Company’s Profile On Campus

And that leads us to the next challenge cited by employers looking to recruit graduates. How to actually boost your company’s profile on the campuses of the universities you are looking to target.

Do your research to see if the universities have any type of system where you can make yourself visible as a company to students. For example, some universities will run job markets where you can book a stall free of charge. This could be useful if you are an SME with limited funds.

You could also contact universities to see if it would be possible to arrange a presentation or a workshop where you could get to meet with students. Sponsoring events might be another way to make yourself visible.

And, always remember, students talk. Word of mouth can be a useful way to recruit graduates. Make sure they are talking about your company in a positive way. Run effective work placements and internships where students and graduates get real benefits and they will soon be passion on the details of your company to their fellow internship hunters around the university campus.

Increased Competition From Other Employers

If you are looking to recruit graduates to your team, then you will also be aware that many other companies in your sector will also be looking to do the same thing. Millennials have grown up in a world of choices and many students and graduates are not afraid to pick and choose between companies. So, the challenge for you is to make sure graduates want to choose what you have to offer them.

If you are recruiting for an SME, you might be facing the challenge of graduates opting to accept positions with larger, more well known organisations. However, there are lots of strategies SMEs can use to attract and retain graduates. Some graduates would even prefer to work for smaller companies so the fact that you are not a multinational corporation could sometimes go in your favour.

Whatever size of company you are, the key is to market yourself to young people so that they are attracted to your graduate programmes. There are lots of tips for enticing students to apply for your graduate vacancies in this article. It’s not just about putting a job ad out there and hoping for the best. Students feel they have many options open to them these days and they are not afraid to explore those options so you need to be in a position where you are marketing yourself to them in a meaningful way.

Reducing The Number Of Applicants For Graduate Vacancies

If you are in the position where students are applying in large numbers for your graduate job vacancies then this can be as much of a problem as not attracting any applicants at all. The recruitment process is time consuming and your HR team’s time can be used more effectively than sifting through hundreds of applications, many of which will not be suited to your role.

For some companies, you might be in a position to have a recruitment section on your website where you can filter out potential applicants before they even apply for a role. This can be via a questionnaire or a small psychometric test. This is a win win situation. It saves you time and it saves the applicant time because they will know they are not a good fit for your company. They can then put their efforts into landing more suitable roles.

What is also important is your job ad. Writing that perfect job ad is essential for attracting the right candidates. Being specific about the role is paramount and if any special skills or attributes are necessary, stress these. Again, this will save students wasting their time applying for a role they aren’t suited to and the applications you do receive should be more relevant than they might have been otherwise.

What are the challenges you have faced as a graduate recruiter? Can you relate to the challenges above or have you got a completely different experience? Whatever your strategies for student and graduate recruitment, posting your ads with E4S means they could be seen by thousands of students and graduates who are in the jobs market, looking for work.