How to… Run a graduate recruitment campaign

A graduate recruitment campaign attracts and recruits degree-level qualified
individuals into your organisation. Campaigns may be run once a year according
to the academic year, or they may be run all year round. In the case of the
former, it is usual for employers to receive and process applications from
students prior to graduation, and offer employment beginning shortly after the
student receives their qualification.

Why is it important?

The graduate population offers key talents and skills to take your
organisation into the future.

They have proven intellectual ability and having spent many years in
education, they are eager to engage with the real world and prove their worth.
Graduates can bring a new and refreshing outlook to your organisation, as well
as the promise of effective leadership in the future.

Getting the recruitment campaign right is crucial, because:

– Organisations must recruit graduates who match their business needs and
will contribute as soon as possible

– There is a war for talent. If you don’t catch tomorrow’s industry guru,
your competitor will

– With growing numbers of qualified applicants and increasingly diverse
career paths, it is easy to miss talented individuals by using traditional and
inflexible methods.

"No two years of graduate recruitment will be the same," says Carl
Gilleard, chief executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters. "The
market changes, graduates change and your needs as an employer change."

Overall strategy

Understand what you can offer your graduate recruits and what you need from
them. Establish whether the recruits are intended for future senior management
positions, or to fulfil an immediate need, with the possibility of moving to
other organisations or even industries at a later date. Graduates value an
honest approach throughout the recruitment process. Rather than adopting
‘salesman’ tactics, tell them precisely what working for your company will

Methods of communication

Graduates can defer the start of their career for a number of reasons –
travel, the need to pay off debts, further education, for example. This means the
pool of talent will include individuals who graduated a few years ago.
Organisations will therefore need to cast their recruiting nets over a wide

Graduate fairs

These are still held within some universities, giving direct access to

Larger recruitment fairs are held within major towns and cities, attracting
graduates from the past few years along with this year’s crop.

When attending such events, be sure to supply hand-outs, contact information
and the opportunity for interaction. If possible, send a past graduate recruit
to talk directly and honestly to the applicants, giving them a real impression
of working life in your organisation.

This is a far more effective and valuable method than presentations or
question and answer sessions with a representative from the personnel or
recruitment function.

Advertising in magazines and newspapers

This is still effective, but you should be aware that graduates are more
likely to read the national press than specific industry publications.

The internet

This plays an increasingly important role in graduate recruitment as job
board sites are becoming a popular way to manage graduate careers. The internet
enables recruiters to access talented individuals who may currently be
overseas, or may already be employed and only able to search for jobs in the
evenings or at weekends.

Your organisation’s website should provide recruitment information for
graduates. They can fill out online application forms, giving you the
possibility of automatically screening this material for the qualifications and
skills you require.

Internet sites are very good for providing in depth information for
interested graduates. The more information you can give to recruits, the more
opportunity they have to make an informed decision about their application.
Graduates can self-select for vacancies having judged whether your organisation
is suitable for them.

Assessment centres

These are extremely useful for determining the best recruits for your
organisation. While the application form and interview will give you an idea of
the candidate, you will only see their true potential by setting them work
related challenges. Specially designed role-plays, group exercises and
structured interviews will give you crucial information regarding your
applicant’s interpersonal and business skills.

Keep talking

Whichever way graduates contact your organisation, make sure you interact
with them and keep them informed about the progress of their application.

– If you have deadlines for application forms, make sure they are clear.

– Tell your graduate applicants when they will hear from you, and inform
them if that date changes.

– Make sure online applicants receive valuable interaction. It is tempting
to send an automated acknowledgement for CVs received by e-mail. However,
graduate applicants should understand precisely what is happening to their
application at all times.

If you only do five things

1 Be honest with your applicants

2 Be sure of your recruitment timetable and stick to it

3 Make sure all selection and screening processes are fair and
relevant to the position

4 Give applicants the opportunity to show you their best side

5 Make decisions as soon as possible and reduce time to hire

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