Graduates: Treating Them Mean Won't Keep Them Keen

Graduates; they’re the next generation of Talent. They’re bright eyed, bushy tailed, with an almost palpable willingness to learn and succeed. They’re undeniably attractive recruits that will often enter into a working environment bustling with new ideas, integrating comfortably into a company’s culture and may come armed with the knowledge of how to navigate around new software and tech with relative ease. Yet according to a report released by psychometric assessment and consultancy specialists Talent Q, almost half (45%) of the 526 graduates and undergraduates questioned were unhappy with their job hunt, with inadequate application or assessment stages proving to be a barrier to effective recruitment procedures.

Through the eyes of a graduate survey sought to explore the experiences and opinions of those who have left university within the last five years, or are due to leave shortly, and used the feedback to identify four ‘major flaws’ in the recruitment process. Those flaws were identified as the following:

  • Poor channels of communication and unconstructive feedback
  • Lengthy and disjointed application process
  • The structure and legitimacy of the interviews
  • The differentiation between how a position is advertised and the actuality of position  

The Talent Q report emphasises what graduates want when applying for a job. The top three factors that were considered to be of importance when applying to an organisation were the level of insight into the role (84%), career progression opportunities (83%) and scope for personal development (82%). Monetary rewards or ‘treats’ were not decidedly motivating factors for candidates, and did not seem to enhance the attraction strategy in the same way.

Candidate experience was cited as one of the most neglected aspects of the process, and is certainly an aspect that employers should seek to remedy, with 70% of participants stating that hearing about someone else’s bad experience would be enough to deter them from applying to an organisation. Lengthy applications also proved to be a determining factor, with 41% saying that a protracted or poorly structured application form would discourage them from applying for a job.

After the assessment stage of the process, which predominantly took the form of an interview (72%), half of the survey’s participants received feedback (49%) from potential employers, and of those that did receive feedback, only 44% were satisfied with the level of detail of the organisation’s response. Overall, almost one fifth of recipients (17%) stated that they were either ‘unsatisfied’ or ‘very unsatisfied’ with the current process, whilst 38% purported to be ‘neutral’.

The research also reaffirms that negative candidate experience can have a knock-on effect on Employer Brand, with 11% of participants stating that a bad experience with an organisation would deter them from using their products or services in the future. And it seems that employers aren’t the only guilty party in the process; inconsistent levels of support offered to graduates by universities was another issue cited by participants. Only two fifths (38%) felt that the careers advice and support they received from their university helped them to understand and prepare for working life after they graduate.

Elements as simple as ensuring that candidates are informed and engaged throughout the process will generate a positive buzz around your recruitment and your brand. The recruitment process may well be the first point of contact graduates have with your business, and so it will undoubtedly reflect on your values and culture. Enter into discussions with your candidates, and gather their feedback however bad or good it may be – this will allow you to monitor, amend and improve it for the future. Needless to say, these measures of good practice don’t just apply to the graduate recruitment process, but are applicable holistically to all who apply, or consider applying, to work within your business.

Graduates and undergraduates amount to, and will continue to account for, a substantial proportion of the economically active population. They’re not only the Talent of tomorrow, but are customers and brand ambassadors too, all of whom are looking to make their mark. Their experiences, opinions and reactions will continue to shape the business landscape for many years to come. It is important to acknowledge and respect each and every graduate candidate as an individual; as the Talent Q report reaffirms, failure to do so will breed a culture of distrust, both internally and externally of your business, and may prove to be detrimental to attracting and securing key Talent in the future.

View the report


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