Reminiscing on the past and planning for the future

Posted by James Wright

Alexander When did you first start looking for a ‘proper’ job at University?

I can just about remember.

It was October 1998 and I was sitting in a political philosophy lecture bar on Oxford Street in Manchester, UK, with my new friend Joe and we were getting a little tipsy talking about what we wanted to do when we grew up. It turned out that we were both fascinated by human behaviour and motivation and aspired to a career in advertising.

Google had only just been incorporated so searching the web for ‘graduate programs marketing jobs’ wasn’t really a thing then and graduate job websites didn’t exist yet.

However we both admired a guy named Martin Sorrell who had founded the agency conglomerate WPP and after some old school research we discovered their Graduate Fellowship Program - which to this day remains one of the most respected and hardest graduate marketing programs to get into on the planet.

In 2002, Joe got in and I didn’t. No hard feelings.

He now lives in Melbourne and works as Planning Director for Saatchi & Saatchi (ironically the business where Martin Sorrell started his career in agency management) and I live in Sydney; both doing what we love.

This fond memory got me thinking. Joe and I talked about the WPP Fellowship opportunity probably weekly throughout our university career sharing discoveries about WPP businesses and their agency campaigns. This is long before employers held data and engaged in relationship building activity with early talent or were inmarket talking to future leaders.

For the majority of my university peers there was a careers fair and a big glossy catalogue of job opportunities somewhere in the middle of the final year. Followed by confusion about who to apply to as there really weren't a lot of connection opportunities and a mad rush as you applied in the midst of final exams.

What a crazy way to make choices that affected the rest of your working life.

Fast forward to 2020 and large corporates have structured programs for young talent as young as sixteen in the form of structured work experiences that act as pathways and an early identification tool for graduate programs and entry level jobs. Many employers now engage in employer branding activity through different media to all ages.

Companies like InsideSherpa have developed free to access virtual internships so that anyone can gain insights and experience into industries and employers that they might be drawn to and want to investigate further. Their employers get to develop skills and relationships with potential employees before they hire them en masse and at a fraction of the cost with none of the logistical challenges of having hundreds of physical work experience placements.

On Wednesday 10th June GradConnection welcomes Anthony Herring, InsideSherpa’s Head of Customer Success to our regular IndustryInsights webinar to look at how the virtual space is evolving. Join us by registering today.

If I was at University now studying political science, as I was in the late 90s, I’d have a news alert for WPP straight to my inbox, registered early interest via their careers website and be comparing their programs with the other global marketing businesses using services like GradConnection.

At GradConnection we offer employers the opportunity to reach early talent right at the beginning of their tertiary education. It’s even earlier for a small cohort of very eager and very organised teenage users who start their journey of discovery whilst in high school.

The graduate recruitment space is unique in that it typically makes recruitment decisions a year out from the start date for an employee; if the employer has all the ducks in a row they may have been in a virtual and or actual relationship with a new FTE for many years through out-reach and work experience programs. Once an applicant is offered a role there is the often fragile task of keeping them close enough between acceptance and start date that they don’t renege on the role for a competitor or a change of head or heart.

With such long lead times it’s important to maintain high visibility even when the economy and or your specific area of industry and commerce may not be having the best time.

I’ve learnt from my far more experienced colleagues in the industry (I joined in March) that those employers who took themselves out of the market in the GFC looked back with the benefit of hindsight and regretted the decision. Their employer brand suffered, their talent pipeline dried up and it was expensive getting back in the game.

So it’s heartening to learn from our own survey and data gathered by the Australian Association of Graduate Employers that only around 2% of employers are taking the dramatic step of cancelling their 2020 altogether. In most cases this decision is totally understandable; the airline and tourism businesses who have been essentially put in a holding pattern or worse during the global pandemic.

Others have adjusted their numbers with around 20% of employers reducing overall volumes by between 20-30%. There is good news in the numbers too with just shy of 15% reporting an increase in the total hires for 2020. I’ll be sharing more about industry trends from the first GradConnection Pulse Survey during our webinar on June 10th.

In the meantime we are encouraging our existing clients to remain as visible as possible, whether they are recruiting right now or not, with our early bird or EOFY offer of 10% off all subscriptions and bookings contracted before the end of June.

We are all in this for the long term and to recognise this you can extend your current contract with GradConnection for 12 months before the end of June, regardless of how far you are through your current profile subscription and enjoy the 10% discount.

There are more developments to celebrate too. We have reduced the price of EDMs to help build employer brands and promote expressions of interest during off-peak months.

Over the past couple of months we have been testing the water with a range of student facing webinars to provide direct real-time access to potential applicants. The response has been fantastic and we are seeing hundreds of students attend and fully engage with content. We are ready to book for webinars from July 1st 2020 right through to the end of March 2021.

Our development and content team has been working on a new JobsGuide section of the website which will provide our users with industry specific information on how to apply and what to expect. As an employer working with us there are now opportunities to create unique content for our student blog to support this piece of work.

We have also released a FAQ feature giving students the opportunity to ask questions directly to you and your team and those answers will be published to your Employer Profile to support others and improve SEO for your employer brand.

I googled what to do in a crisis before writing this piece and the advice was three fold; have a contingency plan, stay connected and in communication with your target audience and stakeholders and leverage technology as much as you can.

As your technology partner in early talent attraction we have been developing new ways to communicate and creating new media to help you stay in the game as you work through these unprecedented times. We are ready to help you charge through or reengineer your profile and campaigns to make sure that your employer brand and pipeline are stronger than ever and on a budget that works.

If you are interested in starting a relationship with GradConnection because, even with the backdrop of COVID-19, you are looking to engage with early talent in new ways or you want to explore a different avenue for entry level recruitment we can help. Our Account Managers are ready to offer advice and support for HR teams looking to build their first graduate recruitment strategy.

Build a custom Employer Profile and be introduced to thousands of potential employees years before they are ready to officially apply for their first ‘proper’ job and stay ahead in the game.

We’ve helped hundreds of organisations forge relationships with hundreds of thousands of graduates since 2008 and are ready to help you now.


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