How to fill those tricky unfilled vacancies

May 13, 2021 | Attraction & marketing

Do you have a hiring headache? Tom Freeman, MD at Sanctuary Graduates explains what to do if you have unfilled vacancies. 

Have you got some tiresome vacancies that just won’t fill no matter what you do? Don’t worry, you are not alone. ISE recruitment surveys show that around half of members have unfilled vacancies each year.

Our clients on the recruitment agency side of our business tend to come to us when they have a hiring headache, with problems including roles in locations that tend to get less applicants, to those which require very specific, hard to find experience or sought after characteristics. 

Sanctuary Graduates fills hundreds of these tricky graduate roles each year and I’d like to share our experience and insights on filling hard to fill or last minute vacancies to help you do the same.  


1. Don’t give up

There is so much talent out there. We are seeing talent remaining from the 2020 graduate cohorts, as well as the usual tide of graduates leaving university over the coming weeks of 2021. Our success rate of filling tricky roles is higher than it has ever been, beyond 90%, so have confidence that the talent is there. We just have to find them, and target them with the right message. 


2. Is your message attractive?

Believe it or not, despite the downturn from Covid-19, graduate recruitment is changing. In May 2020, we were working on less than 50 roles. Now, in May 2021, we are working on more than 200. It is becoming a candidate’s market once more, with the best talent having multiple offers. 

We had feedback from a candidate this week who had two very similar job offers and the one they chose was because of the security they felt it offered, specifically referring to the ‘higher base salary and training’ offered. As such, your message in relation to salary, incentives and progression need to stand out to gain attention, and encourage your target applicant to opt in. 


3. Is your message clear?

Is it obvious what you want your graduate to do, in layman’s terms? When asked why they don’t apply for roles, graduates often cite a lack of understanding about the day-to-day aspects of a role and, critically, about what level of knowledge and experience is required. Numerous surveys (e.g. Milkround 2020) show that female graduates in particular assume they are not qualified if it is unclear what expectations you have of your graduates. 


4. Focus your search 

The majority of graduates remain in the area of the university in which they studied so there is no better place to look than your local universities. Most careers services will be delighted to hear from you. Sanctuary Graduates are officially partnered with over 50 university careers service, allowing employers to reach their graduate recruitment and diversity goals nationally, and all our partners welcome all paying roles and are well set up to help you in your search. Similarly, focussed searching on LinkedIn has never been more successful for us than since lockdown started, with more eyeballs on screens than ever before. 


5. Work with a graduate recruitment partner 

Still stuck? Spending time you don’t have on these pesky, hard to fill roles? There are lots of reasons why working with a specialist graduate recruitment company like Sanctuary Graduates is a good idea. Principally, companies like ours have built huge banks of available talent, and in our case, campus networks and university partnerships, which allow us to fill unfilled vacancies quickly and with the minimum of fuss. We are set up to fill the roles you can’t and to save you time so you can focus on more valuable and rewarding aspects of your roles. So, if all else fails, reach out to an expert in filling hard to fill roles. 

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