Posted by Resh Perera

The 2016 AAGE Conference has been and gone and what a whirlwind of excitement, innovation and learning it was!


GradConnection has attended the AAGE for nine years now and in that time 2016 has been by far the busiest we have seen it. We are yet to receive the final figures but unofficially it seems that this was the most successful conference by attendance in recent years.

So from our experience at the conference, here are GradConnection’s three key points that you should take away from this year’s conference:

  • 1. Innovation and reinvention can bring your program to life

One of the stand out winners from the 2016 Australian Graduate Industry Awards this year was Australia Post, taking home three of the night's awards including Most Popular Graduate Recruitment Video, Most Popular Integrated Marketing Campaign and the Will Spensley Memorial Award for Innovation in the Graduate Market.

Innovation and reinvention were key to the success of Australia Post’s rebranding campaign. Coming from a brand that was considered slow moving and within a declining industry to a cutting edge program that boasts agility and innovation as it’s core values was no small feat. It is a testament to Australia Post that they were able to turn their brand around so quickly and re-establish themselves in the market as an employer of choice. It goes to show that you don’t always need big budgets and endless resources to be able to make real changes happen!

  • 2. Social media is a rising phenomena but is it all it’s cracked up to be?

One of the biggest trends that we as a company have witnessed over the past 12 months is the increasing interest in using social media as a part of your graduate attraction strategy. It was for this reason that we centered our presentation at the AAGE on this topic.

The overarching message with regards to social media is threefold:

  1. Do it right or not at all - Graduates see the amount of effort you put into your social media channels as a reflection of how much effort the company puts into their graduate program. Only posting once a month on Facebook? Students think that the graduate program isn’t valued by the company.
  2. Each social media has a defined purpose - Make sure you use each channel for the correct purpose to generate the most value. Facebook is best used for updating students on information such as key application dates, campus events, profiling graduates while Instagram is more of a cultural branding tool.
  3. Social media will only directly contribute to a small number of applications and hires - While social media is fun and exciting, students are still not finding it a useful source for information about graduate programs. We saw this confirmed through the AAGE Candidate Survey 2016. We see this happen with our own site. GradConnection has 30,000 followers on Facebook but this only contributes to approx 5% of our overall traffic. The majority of our traffic comes from Google and emails.
  • 3. The Australian graduate landscape is improving

If the attendance at the AAGE conference is any indication, the graduate landscape is improving with more vacancies opening up (per employer) and more new employers joining the graduate market. The median vacancies per employer are the highest it’s been in three years and the second highest it’s been in over 10 years.

This is exciting for students with more opportunities for them to explore at the tail end of their academic careers, however with this improvement also comes increased competition for employers. An improving market means that you will have to compete with more employers for top talent, so it’s more important than ever to ensure that your attraction strategy is comprehensive and will work hard for you in bringing in the best pool of candidates for you to then select from.

Those are GradConnection’s top three take away points from the 2016 AAGE conference. If you have any questions regarding the above or the market in general or if you would like a copy of our slides from our presentation on social media at the AAGE please feel free to email me on [email protected].


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