How to accelerate your first year in graduate recruitment

Aug 15, 2019 | Sector & policy

Rebecca Fielding, founder and MD at Gradconsult, shares tips from our popular course for those getting to grips with graduate recruitment.

Graduate recruitment is a busy, complex and highly visible function in most organisations.

Your first year can feel like a baptism of fire as you get to grips with everything from employer brand to candidate experience, market-leading recruitment software, legislation, data management, campus planning, event management, managing your social presence, on-boarding, induction and more. And that’s to say nothing of the often challenging and political nature of long-term budgetary/resource planning and recruitment number forecasting working with senior leaders.

The seemingly simple task of selecting the ‘top’ candidates for your organisation from a burgeoning graduate pool every year, suddenly becomes much more complex the more you know. So how can you accelerate your learning during this first year and really make an impact as soon as possible?


1. Talk to your university partners

Many employer engagement, careers and employability staff within universities have insights about what students are thinking, what your competitors are up to on campus, what works and what doesn’t for their students/campuses. Every university is different in terms of student numbers, subject mix, campus locations, careers team size and the services they offer to employers. Chat to them, they are experts in their own institution, and you’ll be amazed at what you can learn.


2. More applications is NOT a good thing

Attracting more applications simply means disappointing more people, potentially tainting your consumer brand with more people (I know some people who still won’t bank with certain brands due to graduate recruitment experiences from 20+ years ago!) and spending more of your organisations time and more money on screening. The ideal position is to attract fewer, better quality, applicants each year. Doing this also allows you to focus on giving those applicants a really amazing, personalised candidate experience. It’s all about quality and conversion – not quantity.


3. Tech helps, but it is not the answer

The market is awash with technology platforms that claim to have ‘solved’ recruitment. But the most important part of the recruitment process for any candidate is the people. So, whilst tech helps drive efficiencies, reporting and engagement, it is really important to meet people and make genuine connections with candidates as soon as you can. Where you do use tech to complement or deliver elements of your process be sure to use your ISE employer network to source recommendations and referrals.


4. Ensure your recruitment and attraction is authentic

Just getting ‘hires’ into the organisation is only one small part of the early careers equation. The key is finding the right hires who will enjoy the work, culture and environment. So, work closely with your current grads and L&D team to understand the reality of your grad programme – what are the best AND worst bits? Then think about how you can curate an attraction campaign and recruitment experience that is authentic, valid and delivers on expectations. There is no point using VR in a gorgeous glass/modern business suite for your assessment, if in reality they will be working in a 1970s trading estate using a 2016 version of Excel. I’d encourage you to be ‘radically honest’ in your approach, helping more of the wrong candidates opt-out and the right candidates opt-in.


5. Access the ISE

Attend conference, read the surveys and go to your sector focus groups. They are invaluable to find out what is going on in the market and will arm you with much of the market data and intelligence you need to have discussions internally.


Book your place on the next ‘Accelerate your first year in graduate recruitment’ course, taking place on 12 September.

The course is generally aimed at junior and intermediate levels. Senior levels, especially those that are double hatting as a talent manager/HRBP in a small to medium size firm, may also get value out of this course.

Here’s what some previous course participants had to say…

”Very useful course, jam-packed with lots of useful tools and knowledge sharing across different industries – useful for those starting out or who run their recruitment & development programmes” Kathryn Stevens, John Sisk & Son LTD

”Highly recommend this course to anyone new to student recruitment, or as a refresher. Topics covered were relevant, and the course very interactive – useful discussions” Lorraine Orr, Deloitte

“The course covered everything (and more!) that I expected; all info was delivered in a very engaging and comprehensive manner. This course is a must-do for anyone entering into GR industry. You will come away equipped with a burgeoning bank of tips that will assist you in your role day to day.” Zoe Brown, Accenture

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