Personnel Today Awards 2006

Award profile

This category recognises employer achievement in attracting and retaining graduates. The judge looked for examples of best practice and innovation in recruiting and managing degree-level qualified individuals in line with organisational goals. Efforts around employer branding, online recruitment, diversity, assessment, focus-group work and career management were all relevant.

Award sponsor

PersonnelTodayJobs offers targeted recruitment solutions for both public and private sector HR. With 3,000 jobs online and more in print than any other magazine, it delivers a large and high-quality senior HR audience to recruiters. Advertisers are guaranteed exposure to senior HR decision-makers in their workplace, as well as day-to-day recruiters and jobseekers.

Award judge

Shaun Tyson is professor of human resource management (HRM) and director of the Human Resource Research Centre at Cranfield University. He has a PhD from the London School of Economics and was awarded a doctorate by the University of Lyon. He has written 19 books on HRM and HR strategy and policies, and received the inaugural Personnel Today Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.

Award shortlist

The team – KPMG Graduate Recruitment
Number in team: 24 Number in HR function: 180 Number of employees HR is responsible for: 10,000

About the organisation

Formed in 1987, KPMG is a leading provider of professional services, including audit, tax and advisory services, and has 22 offices across the UK.

The challenge

KPMG had 10,000 applications and an intake of 850 this year. It wanted to attract the best graduates through the innovative use of technology, without losing human contact.

What the organisation did

  • Created the ‘high-tech, high-touch’ strategy, which encompassed:

    • Moving all recruitment online.

    • Implementing an online candidate management system so that candidates can book their own interviews and assessment centre appointments.

    • Responding to all applicants within one working day, with personal feedback throughout.

    • Launching the ‘Destiny’ marketing campaign to differentiate KPMG from competitors.

    • Running ‘KPMG Live!’ events at universities across the UK, covering 4,573 students.

    • Set up the KPMG Recruitment Academy.

Benefits and achievements

  • Cost per hire is £2,500, compared with an average cost of £4,000 for members of the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR).

  • KPMG in the UK achieved 20% growth in 2005, with graduate recruitment a key factor

  • Ranked Best Big Company to Work For in the annual Sunday Times survey 2005.

  • Supported its commitment to diversity – 26% of its 2005 graduate intake was from ethnic minorities, and 10% were international students.

The judge says:

“KPMG’s strategy makes excellent use of new technology. Success has come from differentiating its brand on campuses, a clever advertising campaign and drop-in events to appeal to high-flying graduates.”

East Sussex County Council
The team – Schools Workforce Recruitment Team
Number in team: 9 Number in HR function: 120 Number of employees HR is responsible for: 15,000

About the organisation

East Sussex County Council (ESCC) provides a range of public services to the half a million people living in the region.

The challenge

The council set out to address the acute shortage of teachers in schools with specific recruitment and retention needs – particularly for key stage two (junior school) pupils – in regions such as the east of the county and remote rural areas.

What the organisation did

  • Set up a partnership with the University of Sussex in 1999 to develop the graduate teacher programme (GTP) – an initial teacher training programme enabling trainees to work in a school, leading to qualified teacher status.

  • Recruited 110 trainee teachers between 1999 and 2005, and a further 27 trainees began their training last month.

Benefits and achievements

  • All 100% of the 2004-05 intake achieved qualified teacher status in primary schools.

  • A fifth of the graduates began their teaching careers in East Sussex.

  • The retention rate for trainees in East Sussex schools post-training has risen significantly since 2002.

  • The GTP is now an integral part of the teacher recruitment and retention strategy for ESCC’s primary schools.

  • Awarded initial teacher training provider accreditation by Ofsted, making it one of only 14 designated recommending bodies in the UK.

The judge says:

“East Sussex County Council has sought to combat teacher shortages by partnering with the University of Sussex to develop a graduate teacher training programme. It is consistently achieving 100% completion of initial teacher training through dynamic and cohesive teamwork among the stakeholders.”

Mitchells & Butlers
The team – Graduate Recruitment and Development Team
Number in team: 3 Number in HR function: 169 Number of employees HR is responsible for: 42,188

About the organisation

Founded in 1898, Mitchells & Butlers is the UK’s leading operator of managed pubs, bars and restaurants.

The challenge

Mitchells & Butlers needed a quick and fluid application process to support its Retail Graduate Scheme.

What the organisation did

  • Set up an online graduate recruitment process, including a text messaging service.

  • Implemented an online 360-degree graduate review programme.

  • Held 28 recruitment events and used 168 internal assessors to assess the graduates.

  • Involved the executive board at the planning stage of the recruitment cycle.

  • Gathered feedback at every stage of the recruitment cycle, and every six months.

  • Launched a graduate ‘bounty’ scheme, where current graduates are rewarded £500 for every successful recommendation.

Benefits and achievements

  • 100% of the 2003 corporate graduates have achieved their target role.

  • 100% retention rate for graduates recruited in the past three years.

  • Reduced cost per hire, with a marketing spend per hire of £880 (corporate) and £173 (retail), compared with the average AGR member marketing spend of £1,680.

  • Recruiting online led to a 66% rise in retail scheme applications, and 64% for the corporate scheme.

  • Both schemes recruited in excess of their target number of graduates.

The judge says:

“Following its online recruitment system successes, Mitchells & Butlers has, with strong involvement of senior management, developed an online graduate review programme, and has demonstrated impressive efficiency achievements.”

The team – Graduate Recruitment
Number in team: 24 Number in HR function: 180 Number of employees HR is responsible for: 10,150

About the organisation

Business advisory firm Deloitte advises blue-chip clients on auditing, tax, consulting and corporate finance.

The challenge

Deloitte’s 2006 recruitment campaign aimed to build relationships with the right people, increase brand awareness and focus on targeting high-quality students.

What the organisation did

  • Toured campuses to hand out Deloitte-branded smoothies as part of a two-year ‘Feed Your Mind’ campaign.

  • Held presentations at 23 universities and 30 employability seminars across the UK.

  • Conducted research of 5,000 students in 53 universities on its recruitment activity.

  • Linked up with charity Teach First to fund two-year teaching placements.

  • Launched ‘Taste of Deloitte’ – a two-day work experience programme.

  • Improved online recruitment, by enabling graduates to schedule their interviews.

  • Targeted minority groups and non-business students.

Benefits and achievements

  • Ranked second in the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers 2006.

  • Applications rose by 30% for 2006, on top of an increase of 33% in 2005.

  • Marketing spend per graduate was £1,162, compared with the 2005 AGR average of £1,600.

  • Online testing cut the number of first interviews by 30%.

  • Female applicants increased from 35% in 2004 to 41% in 2006, and ethnic minority applications accounted for 42% of applications in 2006 – above the industry average.

The judge says:

Deloitte has been outstandingly successful in attracting graduates and creating strong brand awareness by using targeted activities and social responsibility initiatives such as its teaching scheme.”

Marks & Spencer
The team – M&S Resourcing Team
Number in team: 8 Number in HR function: 100 Number of employees HR is responsible for: 65,000

About the organisation

Marks & Spencer (M&S) has more than 450 stores across the UK, and 150 stores worldwide.

The challenge

Although candidates felt M&S’s online graduate recruitment system was fast and efficient, they also felt it was too impersonal, and the time between accepting a job offer and joining – which can take up to seven months – left recruits feeling isolated, and open to competitors.

What the organisation did

  • Personalised online communications to make them friendlier.

  • Enabled candidates to provide anonymous feedback on the recruitment process online.

  • Gave new recruits access to a personalised Future Hires website to build a relationship with them once they join, which includes details of the candidate’s new role, a discussion forum, and links to useful services, such as letting agents.

Benefits and achievements

  • 39% of candidates rated the application experience as excellent and 47% as very good.

  • 52% fewer candidates have withdrawn so far from this year’s graduate recruitment programme compared with last year.

  • The programme achieved a 1,100% return on investment.

  • New recruits start off more engaged, which has enhanced the employer brand.

  • Delivered the whole solution in three months.

  • Awarded Best Technology Innovation at online recruitment industry awards.

The judge says:

“M&S’s recruitment team has strengthened its pioneering online graduate recruitment service through personalised communications, providing access to a personalised website, and encouraging a rapid personal connection to the organisation.”

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