Graduate employers hit back at findings that recruits are unaware of FTSE firms

Top employers have hit back at a survey which found that graduates had never heard of two-thirds of the FTSE 100 firms, and were unaware of what more than three-quarters of the top 100 graduate employers do.

A study published earlier this week revealed students did not recognise 63 of the firms in the FTSE 100 list, and were unaware of what 79 of the Times’ Top 100 Graduate Employers 2009 do.

The survey, by recruitment website, which interviewed 368 students, suggested employers were not doing enough to engage the next generation of leaders.

But several graduate employers told Personnel Today their graduate schemes were always over-subscribed, and that they had no problems attracting new recruits.

Gerry Bishop, employee development manager at aerospace firm Cobham, admitted his firm was less famous compared to others in the FTSE 100 list, despite it making £2bn turnover a year. But the firm had still received hundreds of applications for just 12 positions on its graduate scheme next year.

“We are the UK’s third largest aerospace company, but a lot of people have never heard of us. Yet I am in the middle of conducting 150 telephone interviews, and that’s after we’ve already whittled it down,” he told Personnel Today.

Bishop added the firm had carried out an employer branding exercise this year to improve its market presence, but insisted “we haven’t got a problem attracting people”.

Meanwhile, Vodafone, a well-known brand which just announced it would hire 50 graduates next year, said top employers were doing all they could to engage and attract potential candidates.

Matthew Brearley, HR director, said: “The onus is definitely on the employee as much as the employer to find out about jobs and opportunities are available. It’s a two-way street, but I would expect graduates to be pretty hungry and savvy about the firms out there.”

The growth of online recruitment

Online recruitment can account for the sheer volume of applications received by graduate employers. Using corporate websites to attract and accept candidates has grown to be the most popular means of recruitment, but also the most effective, according to respondents to the IRS 2009-10 graduate recruitment survey, published exclusively on XpertHR. Most employers direct their investment towards their corporate graduate recruitment website, rather than national or widespread advertising campaigns, the survey found.

Source: XpertHR

He added: “We have not got a problem attracting graduate recruits. We also have a very good selection process which is very clear from the outset about the types of people we are looking for.”

The Association of Graduate Recruiters agreed savvy graduates would seek out opportunities and learn about the types of jobs on offer.

However, chief executive Carl Gilleard warned that employers could take lessons from the survey that a more targeted approach to recruitment would attract fewer, but better suited, applicants.

He added: “The real issue here is where graduates are aware of the business but they are not aware of the types of work on offer -for example, an engineering firm still needs good HR or IT people. Businesses still need to get the message across about the range of work on offer.”






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