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Graduate recruitment: quality not quantity

For months I’ve been saying that the biggest challenge the graduate recruitment market currently faces is an over-supply of candidates.

That may sound like a good problem to have, but it causes a real headache when the majority of those candidates are unqualified for the roles they’re applying to. After all, it turns a simple recruitment exercise into a time-consuming nightmare as recruiters search for a needle amongst the haystack of applications.

Research published this week from The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) confirms the scale of the issue: three-quarters of employers they surveyed found their hiring process to be cumbersome due to the lack of skilled employees.

Claire McCartney, from the CIPD, underlined that: “High levels of unemployment have boosted quantity, but employers are still struggling with quality.”

Here at FreshMinds Talent we’ve been advising clients to keep their recruitment campaigns as targeted as they possibly can. It’s tempting to throw money at advertising but the inevitable consequence is an influx of unsuitable applications.

Far better in my opinion is a focussed drive amongst the networks that really count: particular universities, courses or societies which fit well with an employer’s ideal profile.

The market for graduates is still highly competitive so employers can’t afford to rest on their laurels in attracting the brightest talent, but they need to get their focus right. Recent research from High Fliers revealed that 60% of employers will increase their graduate intake in 2011, so clearly they need to be working hard at networking with the right people – but to respond by upping the advertising budget may be to create a rod for their own back.

Tim Webster is a consultant on the FreshMinds Talent Graduate Team.