Recruitment survey 2020 – shorter, smarter and more essential than ever

Sep 14, 2020 | Sector & policy

ISE’s Tristram Hooley explains why it is more important than ever to complete the recruitment survey this year.

We are living in an age when it is impossible to get through any article without using the word ‘unprecedented’. But, this year we have made the ‘unprecedented’ decision to shift when we conduct ISE’s annual recruitment survey into the autumn!

For those of you new to this game, ISE have run a survey of members during the summer for as long as anyone can remember. The survey serves as an annual temperature check on entry-level recruitment. It explores how many students organisations are hiring, how they are marketing opportunities to them, the volume of applications and how they are sorting the wheat from the chaff.

This kind of information provides ISE, and therefore its members, with a comprehensive overview of the whole early career market.

But, 2020 has been chaotic and so we decided that a lot of employers would not be in a position to provide a definitive picture of their recruitment until the end of the season. We switched our research to focus on Covid and spent the spring and summer collecting data and offering insights on global graduate recruitment, changing patterns of recruitment and development and how employers are responding to government initiatives in the age of the pandemic.

We are now heading into the next recruitment cycle and have had to recognise that Covid is going to be part of our everyday lives for a while yet. So, this means that we are now integrating questions about Covid into our normal research programme and launching the 2020 recruitment survey.

So what can you expect in this year’s survey?


Over the last few years the scope of the recruitment survey has gradually grown until the number of questions exceeded 100! During this time we’ve moved from an exclusive focus on graduates to looking at school leavers and apprentices as well. We’ve also done more on diversity and dug into the detail of organisations’ resourcing, attraction and marketing. This year, I worked with the Research and Policy Steering Group to prune and focus the survey.

Weighing in at a trim 76 questions, this year’s survey is designed to be quick to answer and to offer the insights that employers really need.



We’ve worked to restructure the survey and improve its flow. Most of the questions are now quick multi-choice questions. The key sections now address:

  • The recruitment team
  • Graduates
  • Non-graduates
  • Interns and placement students
  • International recruitment
  • Apprenticeship programmes
  • Attraction and marketing
  • Recruitment and selection
  • The future

If a section isn’t relevant to you, you will automatically skip over it and move on to the next section.


More essential

The information that we are gathering through the survey is hopefully more useful than ever. It is designed to capture strategic information about how organisations are managing their recruitment, responding to Covid and planning for the future. Alongside this we will also be exploring the kind of practical information that is useful for those working on the (increasingly virtual) campus recruitment frontline.

The survey will capture the most up to date and comprehensive picture of student recruitment. The data and insights that it produces (hopefully hitting the streets in early November) will allow employers to benchmark their activities against the whole sector. But, of course, if you want this data you will have to complete the survey!

If you have all the information to hand the survey should take you somewhere between 15 and 45 minutes. We hope that you will find the time and complete the survey before Wednesday 23 September 2020. The more employers who complete it, the higher quality of insights we will be able to provide.

Complete ISE’s annual recruitment survey

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