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Just as the class of 2009 face formidable challenges, so do graduate recruiters. Competition for jobs has never been so fierce and graduates leaving university are entering a job market filled with uncertainty.
We are working in unprecedented times and graduate recruiters face new challenges, including huge increases in applications for potentially fewer positions as well as question marks around the commitment of candidates whose main driver for accepting an offer may well be the security of the first job offer made rather than longer term career considerations.
Graduate recruiters also need to maintain their employer brand despite cutbacks, manage their reputation through these difficult times and maintain visibility so that when the good times return they are still on the graduate radar. For those recruiters who get it right, big prizes lie ahead.
Organisations must make sure their employer brand is honest and transparent during the recession, not invisible. If they do not manage their reputation now, when the job market improves gaining a positive employer image with students and graduates will be disproportionately difficult, both from a cost perspective and from a reputational one. It is a critical time for cost-effective marketing and there are some sure-fire ways to maintain brand presence even when reducing intake on recruitment programmes.
Foremost of these is stakeholder management, particularly in relation to university careers services. Even if organisations aren't recruiting in 2009, feeding the talent pipeline is essential and working alongside careers services on campus to keep a brand visible for first and second-year students will be vital for future interest from top graduates.
Companies also need to be looking at developing relationships with graduates earlier in their university careers. It is widely accepted that the class of 2010 will face an even tougher job climate than those graduating in 2009, and there is a growing realisation among the student base that looking for a job sooner rather than later can only improve employment opportunities.
Marketing to students on campus will provide huge opportunities to develop a good relationship with the workforce of tomorrow despite what's going on in the workplace.
To find out more about this and campus branding in the recession, visit the TMP Worldwide workshop at the AGR conference in July.