How to optimise your candidate journey for graduate recruitment
Graduation is a significant event enjoyed by young people every year and is believed to be the first major step in their professional life. Just last week, as the graduates at Loughborough University celebrated their achievement, a fly-by from the Red Arrows commemorated the day to make it that extra bit special. However, as the celebrations become memories and photographs, the reality of their future soon sets in – what are they going to do next, and where will they commit their first few years of employed life?
Today’s job market is owned by the candidates and, with this new release of fresh talent entering the market, it’s in the best interest of the employers to make the decision of whom to work for as easy as possible for graduates. However, employers are failing to connect with these newly graduated candidates and are consequently struggling to tap into this market of skilled talent.
Current challenges recruiting graduates
The good news for employers is that more graduates are turning to small and medium organisations (SMEs) to kick start their career, as smaller team sizes are giving ambitious graduates the opportunity to take on more responsibilities and rise up the ladder much sooner than they would with a bigger firm, however, from our research, we found that the majority of SME companies did not have a separate graduate opportunity section on their careers page that larger organisations have; leaving a large number of employers failing to capitalise on attracting these ambitious graduates.
From our research, we also found that organisations are failing to offer graduate-specific jobs and, instead, are alienating candidates by advertising roles that require specific experiences that young graduates simply don’t have. These adverts are also often full of jargon and confusing terminology that candidates who are unfamiliar with these sectors will not understand.
In fact, 71% of respondents to Milkround’s annual student survey have admitted to being confused at least once by a job description. That’s a lot of skilled talent that could be put off from applying to your organisation from just an unclear or complicated job advert.
For a lot of graduates, the only way into some organisations is to take on a low-level role or internship but these roles often offer little in salary, benefits and progression.
Put simply, many SME’s are not selling themselves as a graduate employer and are consequently failing to entice graduate candidates to come and work for their company.
Will today's graduates want to work for you?
Modern graduates want more than just a paycheck, they want a purpose and they want to work for an organisation that aligns with their values. A whopping 90% of graduates say that career progression is important to them, so it’s essential that an organisation offers training, development, and gives sufficient feedback. Graduates are also requiring jobs that reflect their lifestyles, with more and more desiring flexible working that gives them a healthy work-life balance.
Company culture and values are also extremely crucial to graduates as they want assurance that the company they are applying for is the right fit for them. It comes as no surprise that 80% of young people will look at the job section on a company website before applying to an organisation.
If your careers page is out-dated, difficult to navigate, or shows little of what your company has to offer, then you can probably expect candidates to lose interest and look at other opportunities, elsewhere.
Why should you optimise your candidate journey for graduates?
With the UK currently going through a skills shortage, due to low unemployment levels that have resulted in organisations scrambling around for the best remaining talent, it’s an unavoidable result that many organisations will, unfortunately, miss out.
Graduation, however, represents a fantastic opportunity for organisations looking to grow, as there are now plenty of ambitious and talented young professionals looking to start a successful career, leaving organisations with a pool of exciting candidates that can be moulded and shaped into fantastic employees.
These candidates might not have direct experience in your sector or industry but, instead, have plenty of transferable skills which they have learned during their time studying at university or on work experience.
From critical thinking to presentation and communication skills, graduates have a built up a vast amount of knowledge that your organisation can easily benefit from. Graduates are also ambitious, they want to be successful and rise through the ranks, so they will be willing and eager to learn new skills; making graduates the perfect choice for employers looking to drive productivity and growth in their organisation.
Creating a positive candidate experience that entices graduates
With 60% of graduates admitting to having high expectations when it comes to their careers; organisations are now having to do a lot more if they want to attract the best graduates.
To stand out from the competition, you have to showcase what your organisation has to offer and demonstrate to graduates why they should choose your organisation over others.
Having a strong employer brand is key to conveying this message, as it gives an insight into how fantastic it is to work for your company. With the younger generation expecting to be able to access information digitally, before applying to an organisation, it is important to have a visually appealing, and easy-to-navigate, careers page that integrates with the rest of your company website.
Your careers page is the perfect place to showcase your company culture and values as you can use your page to highlight your company benefits such as mentoring programmes and flexible working and you can use existing staff to give testimonials on how they have developed and what they have achieved whilst working for your company.
By being clear on what you can offer with your graduates, you can demonstrate to them that you’re an organisation where they can develop, grow and become successful.
Employer brand is not the only graduate recruitment strategy employers have to think about, they also have to consider the ease of access with graduates who probably have little experience when it comes to applying for opportunities.
Even if an organisation does not have a dedicated graduate page or graduate opportunity section, it is important to make adverts and careers pages clear to graduates who probably don’t understand the ins and outs of your sector or industry.
Instead of asking for years of experience, be more flexible and look at how graduate skills can be developed and moulded into certain roles, by just asking for a few key skills from your candidates in your job adverts, you will gain access to a wider pool of fantastic young talent.
The best companies recognise that young people also need help with their applications, by supporting candidates with their applications you can also help remove unnecessary hurdles from graduates looking at gaining a job in your organisation or sector.
By enabling easy access at all stages, you can ensure that your graduate candidates are not getting frustrated and giving up from unnecessary barriers or complicated wording.
Finally, it is crucial to communicate and engage with graduates throughout the recruitment process, from building up relationships at careers fairs and on platforms such as social media, to personally getting in touch during the application stage, it is crucial to make a positive impression on graduate candidates or face the prospect of them becoming alienated and put off from applying to your organisation.
Additionally, by creating a positive candidate experience, you can make sure graduates at each stage of the recruitment process continue to see your organisation as a fantastic place to work.
Even if a candidate does not make it to the next stage, they will be more likely to apply again for a future position.
By creating a positive candidate experience that appeals to graduates, you can ensure by the next time graduation comes around you will have a pool of fresh talent wanting to work for your organisation.
For more information on how you can optimise your candidate journey to better attract and engage with talented young people, click here to read Access Generations ‘Youth Employment Accessibility Research’.