Recruiting high-quality entry-level hires, whether they be university graduates, college students, or those on internship programmes, is a key part of ensuring your organisation has future talent in place. Over the past year, we have seen increasing competition for the best emerging talent, thanks to travel restrictions and Covid-related lockdowns. Whilst we tend to look at our own region for benchmarking, looking overseas can provide different perspective and new learnings. In this blog, Alan Bourne, Founder and CEO of Sova Assessment shares the impacts of Covid-19 on the UK graduate market and explain what to consider when setting up a graduate recruitment programme that meets the expectations of your candidates and the needs of your business.
Virtual recruiting and hiring is here to stay
Student recruitment has gone virtual and it’s here to stay. Research by the Institute of Student Employers (ISE) finds that 93% of employers have moved their recruitment process online. This may have been brought about by the pandemic, but virtual graduate recruitment is now business as usual with 48% of employers anticipating that their recruitment process will still be mainly virtual in five years’ time.
Diversity matters in student recruitment
ISE’s research into the biggest student recruitment trends looks at the commitment employers are making to diversity in hiring. Employers are broadening out their recruitment strategies to include targeted action on diversity strands including ethnicity, socio-economic background, disability, and gender. While 65% of employers have formal targets around diversity and have been actively developing their recruitment processes to make them more inclusive, almost all (99%) felt that they had more to do on diversity over the next five years.
A great recruitment process is critical
When planning how to recruit early talent, it’s also important to know what puts graduates off applying to an employer. 23% of graduates say that a poor or unimpressive experience when meeting representatives from the firm would discourage them and 22% say that a long and complicated application process would deter them from applying. A poll carried out by Prospects supports this, finding that uni graduates and college students are discouraged by long application forms that asked, (what they felt were) unnecessary questions or that require candidates to repeat information already supplied.
How do you attract the best graduates?
Successful student recruitment requires an understanding of what graduates and college students want. So, what does the best talent coming out of colleges and universities look for in an employer? How has this changed over the past few years? And how can employers respond with a compelling employer brand?
Upskilling is essential to entry level jobs
Research from The Prince’s Trust shows that almost all (97%) of graduates want employers to be actively involved in their career upskilling. In turn, graduates are looking to develop, 70% of early careers candidates expect employers to invest in teaching them digital skills on the job. Therefore, development should be a key part of employer branding in graduate recruitment strategies and employers should consider how they can bring in mentorship and training into their graduate development programmes.
A commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion
92% of early careers talent will consider the diversity or inclusivity of an organisation before applying. Almost half (48%) of graduates will actively research a company’s commitment to diversity before applying, with only 8% saying it’s something they don’t consider at all. Organisations that want to attract young talent should be specific in their recruitment marketing about the business’ commitment to diversity and inclusion and how the company culture supports this. A fair, equitable recruitment process is an important statement for companies to make and an opportunity to tangibly move the dial on diversity in a way that can be demonstrated to graduates.
Work life balance and wellbeing
Work life balance, and people and company culture are more important to graduates than pay. When asked, 61% of graduates cited having a good work-life balance as most important, and 39% said having a good salary. Therefore, the ability to convey your organisation’s company culture, values and work-life is critical during the recruitment process. A realistic job preview, especially in a virtual setting, is an effective way to bring your organisation to life.
Create a level playing field
Lastly, making equity and fairness inherent in your graduate recruitment process is more important than ever. Since the pandemic, college students and uni graduates have experienced varying levels of opportunity. Confidence levels have dropped across the student population and those who attended a non-selective state school are more likely to say that they aren’t confident about securing a graduate-level job.
Research by Bright Network found that 85% of graduates have felt under more pressure around careers due to the impact of COVID-19 and that 77% of students feel they have struggled to connect with employers. Only 42% of graduates reported feeling ready for the world of work.
To ensure a bias-free process, Sova recommends using only assessments that are proven to be fair and a good predictor of performance, but that also do not discriminate based on access to certain knowledge or experiences.
How can I improve my graduate recruitment?
A graduate recruitment programme is a key element of your organisation’s talent strategy. Abigail Scott, MD Sova APAC, shares that “an effective recruitment strategy for entry-level hires will ensure Australian businesses have the talent they need to head into the future. Offering early careers talent a fair, engaging, digital assessment experience is where Sova can help.”
Find out more
At Sova, we have recently launched a new Community platform, for those working within the HR, talent and recruitment space to network and stay up to date on the latest developments within assessment. We also provide free courses, designed to help raise the bar of assessment, which focus on topics such as the future of digitalised assessment and how to make fairer, more equitable decisions about talent. Sign up to the Community to get started.
Alternatively, if you’d like to talk through a specific issue you are facing with your early talent recruitment or discover how we can help you meet graduate expectations, please get in touch.
Founder and CEO – Sova Assessment