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Graduate recruitment: targeting your search

by Jo Lynas and Phillippa Dunlop August 31, 2011

Graduate recruitment has always been a candidate-rich market, and the end of each academic year sees eager finalists start their job hunt in earnest by firing off applications to the most popular career destinations. This year has been no different, and the recession has seen an increased summer surge in graduates applying for roles, particularly as an alternative to riskier options such as taking time out to travel. Candidates are also spreading their net more widely than previously and applying to multiple roles to up their chances of an offer. This has caused more than one HR director to comment to the Graduate Team that identifying good candidates has become somewhat akin to finding a needle in a haystack.

So, with applications flooding in, how can you avoid wasting time? How can you be sure to cut to target the top grads? Here are a few tips from our own experience of candidate attraction and selection to make sure your process in 2009, 2010 and beyond is a sprint, not a resistance test:

¨        Assess your benchmarks. With a reported 48 graduates on the hunt for each vacancy, now could be a good time to review your academic criteria. If your current requirements are a 2.2, consider setting the bar at a 2.1, together with 300 UCAS points. It’s generally considered to be a fair measure (provided you take into account any specific mitigating circumstances), and can be a way to front load your process.
¨        Be targeted in the way you advertise. Rather than carpet-bombing all careers services and job boards with your ad in the hope of reaching the right candidates somewhere, somehow, be selective about the media you use. Are there any particular business schools, subject-specific sites or societies (e.g an investment club) that you could approach? It’s better to choose a handful of sources that fit your profile than to have to review applications from a host of institutions that don’t cut the mustard.
¨        Consider outsourcing. Having an expert take over the lion’s share of sourcing and selection from you can save you valuable time and resource. This is something that FreshMinds has done successfully for a number of clients at both Graduate and Executive level in sectors ranging from Financial Services to Retail and Telecoms. Whoever you choose, make sure your provider can replicate your processes and work to any existing competency frameworks.

These are interesting times for the graduate recruitment, and there’s a lot that’s positive about the market from an employer’s point of view. Despite the tough economic circumstances, graduate recruitment remains a good investment for the future of your talent pool, and now could be a good time to capitalize on available, eager candidates. And with a bit of planning and a targeted approach, the year ahead could be the best ever for your graduate intake.

Jo Lynas is an account manager on the Graduate Team

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