Graduate Recruitment: Engagement And Experience Are Essential

The latest research from talent acquisition software company WCN, and employer brand experts Universum has highlighted some of the increasing challenges employers face from candidate expectations.

These are no more prevalent than in the intense battle to recruit the strongest graduates, and in a challenging jobs market, engagement and candidate experiences have become the top priorities for recruiters this year.

Studying the responses from close to a million applicants and 40,000 business students across the globe, WCN have developed the The Must-Know Student Recruiting Trends for 2018, offering key insights into why attraction and engagement should be number one for businesses looking to hire future leaders. The major takeaways are:

Competition is Tough

Examining applications to high-volume recruiters, it was found that an average of 50,000 students are applying for graduate programs. Of those that applied only around 2% made it through to the offers stage, and a massive 70% of applicants were dropped at the initial screening stage.

Engagement is King

The study found that although decline, withdraw and renege rates varied across the world, applications in the thousands often had hundreds of candidates falling into one of these three groups. This is yet further proof of the strength of the competition to hire graduate talent, and goes to highlight the need for greater work to be done on candidate engagement.

Diversity is Challenging

Diversity continues to be a big challenge when it comes to student hiring. Although female applications are far behind male applications, female graduates receive more offers than their male counterparts. WCN point at unconscious biases towards the language candidates use, and underscore the need for recruiters to break these biases.

Overseas is Attractive

Working abroad is becoming increasingly attractive to graduates, not least because of the exodus of big business that Brexit is ushering in. Though politics isn’t the only driver. With travel more affordable than ever before, graduates are are keen to experience work in different cultures and need to be incentivised to remain at home.

Education is Paramount

Whilst in the US recruiters are tending away from Ivy League graduates, data from the UK has shown that there is a bigger leaning towards Russell Group universities, even in the face of criticism from social mobility lobbyists.

Ethnic Hiring is Behind

There is a gap in the roles that are being filled by both black and hispanic groups across all regions. This is particularly prevalent in the US and the UK where the roles filled are significantly lower than the applications received. An increased focus on diversity is very much needed.

WCN Founder & CEO, Charles Hipps comments:

“The findings in this study, coupled with the perspectives provided by Universum, show just how intense student recruitment is becoming around the world. Mounting competition is ramping up business pressures to recruit faster and be more agile but employers also face the threat that increasingly it is students who hold the power in determining which business is the best fit for them.

“This report clearly demonstrates the need for recruiters to expand sources, find diamonds in the rough and improve diversity in a hugely competitive landscape. Engagement is key to this and recruiters really need to be thinking about how to accelerate their commitment to hiring superstars by personalising approaches to candidate nurturing so that you can vie to be faster than your competitors.”

Finally, Universum’s data reveals what students expect from an employer:

– 48% of students would not choose an employer if they did not know enough about them.

– 13% would be put off if they felt employers did not recruit from their school.

– Having a work/life balance and offering job security were ranked as the top two career goals for business students.

– Working for an international organisation or working for a privately-owned national company were the top choices for students.

– In the UK and US high future earnings were the top attractions, whilst in other regions working in a ‘friendly environment’ were preferred.

– Social media, and in particular Facebook, are the most effective communication channels. Employer websites and career fairs came in second and third.


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