British International Investment is the first Development Finance Institution with a graduate programme. Morgan Fong explains what they learned.
Developing British International Investment’s first graduate programme has been an exciting yet challenging opportunity for me as our early careers programme lead.
Attracting the best graduates in a competitive market is notoriously difficult. The enduring question for me has been, ‘how can we stand out from other employers?’
I’ve kept this question in mind over the past year while building British International Investment’s (BII) first graduate programme. Two key learnings stand out.
Building brand awareness
I am fortunate to work for an organisation with a great brand. Our mission and impact are inspiring. When job hunting, this is what Generation Z are looking for – purpose over pay check. A sense of purpose and sustainable practices impact graduate attraction and retention.
A big focus for me was promoting this fantastic brand, particularly aiming to reach our majority Gen Z target audience. This year’s Cibyl Graduate UK research found that early half (40%) of respondents prefer in-person events. This meant that we needed to get out there and talk to graduates.
My colleagues travelled to attend panel events at universities, showcasing their expertise and BII’s offering.
In the finance sector we run the risk of panels being uniform in terms of representation, while the top graduates are from all backgrounds. This meant that diverse panel representation at events was vital, so we had to have input from female and Black colleagues.
I also attended careers fairs, promoting our brand, and while doing so, gaining insight on the Gen Z job-hunting mindset.
When I asked where they search for opportunities, it was interesting to consistently hear the answer ‘social media’.
Two in five students would like to engage with prospective employers on social media. A good way to do this for corporate organisations like BII is via third parties, alongside our own LinkedIn and Twitter.
Read more about how to make social media work harder for your brand.
Enhancing our application process and assessment material
Initially, for British International Investment’s first graduate programme we opened the application window for four weeks. Although this was long enough to receive over our target number of applications, we noticed the number of female candidates, although above the industry average, was disproportionate.
I learned that according to data, Gen Z female applicants take longer to apply. However, once they engage, they remain in the recruitment process and are less likely to drop out. So now we are going to extend the application window to six weeks.
We had a high number of eligible applications in response to both our spring and autumn graduate recruitment campaigns.
We only had twelve vacancies for British International Investment’s first graduate programme, and the calibre of our applicants was very high. The next step was ensuring the assessment process was fit for purpose.
It was necessary to evaluate exactly what we were looking for. For example, are we prioritising those with high potential? Or those who already have the skills? We are continuing to develop and improve our application process and assessment material, and I’m certainly excited to see the results.