Are nepotism, appearance and university name vital in graduate recruitment? Young people think so.

Feb 22, 2021 | Diversity

New data exposes the differences between student perception and employer reality in the diversity and inclusion agenda, reports Milkround.

Graduate careers website Milkround recently conducted research to understand the perceptions students and graduates have of how employers filter candidates during their recruitment processes. Alongside this, they spoke with HR decision makers to learn more about their current graduate recruitment strategies to promote building a more inclusive workforce.

Beyond the Buzzword: Defining and attracting top graduate talent revealed stark differences between what employers are doing currently versus student and graduate opinions.

One of the largest discrepancies was surrounding discrimination, with 81% of students and graduates believing nepotism is still a major factor when it comes to who is offered a job, yet only 6% of HR decision makers stated this is factored into their recruitment procedures.

Students and graduates still feel that employers are hiring talent based on factors such as personal characteristics and which university they went to, opposed to their skills and experience.

With over half of HR decision makers believing their business already employees a truly diverse workforce compared with a third of graduates who think this, there is clearly a communication error.


Are employers doing enough?

59% of HR decision makers believe their business is already doing enough to recruit a diverse workforce, however 81% of students and graduates don’t agree.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are at the top of most employers’ agendas, however can we really say we are doing enough? Graduates are taking into account how committed an employer is to diversity, equity and inclusion before applying for a role; a third (34%) are taking this into consideration. First impressions are more important than ever in securing young talent. Committing and executing long term actions and goals will encourage both attraction and retention within your business.

Therefore employers must show their commitment and accountability in this area. They must also realise that change won’t happen overnight and mistakes will be made along the way. However, owning up to these mistakes and making long-term commitments to making a change is crucial for future success.


What impact is this having?

Over half of graduates believe that physical appearance has the greatest impact on companies’ recruitment decisions.

There is still work to be done to ensure that potential candidates know that their physical appearance is not a factor that employers prioritise. Nearly 40% of graduates believe that an individual’s identity, background or personal characteristics will have a negative impact on someone’s career. It is important for young people to understand what steps and processes are being taken by employers as this will be affecting the number of diverse candidates applying for their jobs.

Moreover, there is continued and ongoing concern that the university a graduate has attended will affect their career options in the future, with 52% of graduates believe that whether they went to a Russell Group university or not will affect them within the recruitment process.

Students across England pay the same fees to attend university and there can be many factors that influence which university they attend. It’s unfair to purely focus on the institute name, and employers need to show they are looking beyond that, that they are looking for passion and willingness to learn new skills along with highlighting relevant and transferable skills.

Employers have an opportunity to make sure their recruitment processes allow candidates to display their talent and also to make their application processes clear within the job description.


What do graduates want to see employers doing?

34% of graduates consider how committed a company is to diversity, equity and inclusion before applying for a role.

With many graduates taking diversity, equity and inclusion into consideration when looking at their future careers, it is important for employers to understand what they want to see employers adopting in the recruitment process. Milkround’s research found that half want to see companies using diverse interview panels, as well as see companies offering living wage salaries to graduates.

Furthermore, nearly two thirds of graduates want to see blind recruitment implemented by employers. This process involves removing all signals about a candidate’s socio-economic background, ethnicity and immigration status that might influence a hiring manager’s decision. Currently, only 14% of HR decision makers who Milkround surveyed are using blind recruitment, however a further 36% have said they plan to employ this within the coming months.


How can employers show graduates what they are doing to improve?

66% of students and graduates want to see companies introduce internal forums and groups for discussion.

With seven in ten students and graduates wanting companies to do more to show what actions they are taking in order to hire a diverse workforce, it’s important for companies to highlight this to prospective candidates, especially where a lot of work is being done in these areas.

The majority of graduates think companies should publish publicly available reports (such as gender and diversity pay reports). They also want to see employers introduce internal forums, such as diversity and inclusion networks, that offer a safe space for discussion. It’s worth noting that for internal forums to work, senior management must also dedicate time to listen to the needs of their employees.

In conclusion, graduates want to clearly understand and see how employers are adapting recruitment and internal processes to build a diverse, equal, and inclusive workforce. Employers need to show their commitment to these areas and highlight how they are making changes. If employers fail to do so, they are likely to miss out on fantastic entry-level talent.

Read more member research and data

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