A minute with… Tom Viggers, sales director of Graduate Promotions

2013 RAD Award for Work of the Year

Celebrating 25 years of the RAD Awards, Personnel Today interviewed Tom Viggers, specialist sales director at Graduate Promotions, about the changing world of graduate recruitment and about winning the Work of the Year award in 2013.

The 2015 RAD Awards are open for entries until 5pm on 10 October 2014.

How important was it for Graduate Promotions to win the 2013 Work of the Year?

Winning awards is always a pleasure because we all want to do the best work possible and having that recognised by our contemporaries is very satisfying. It’s especially pleasing that “Field of Sparks” was recognised because it was a brave and positive campaign that responded to the key business challenge for J.P. Morgan, attracting technologists into investment banking.

Tom Viggers, specialist sales director. Graduate Promotions

Competition for top graduate talent is fierce, so campaigns that create a strong and positive impression in the minds of students are incredibly important.

Of course, on a more personal note, we are all immensely proud at Graduate Promotions of the recognition for “Field of Sparks” because we believe the advice and ideas we give our clients really adds value, and having that backed up with the most prestigious award in our industry was very fulfilling.

What other challenges are organisations facing to attract the very best graduates?

All the economic indicators and business surveys are indicating that the recruitment market is heating up again. Employers are back in the market en masse for the best and most capable candidates, so competition for them is only going to get tougher.

Graduates are becoming ever more conscious not just of the company they work for and the career they are beginning to carve out for themselves, but also of the impact that their work might have on the environment, on their personal time and all the other things that are sometimes harder to quantify when comparing job offers and career choices.

Is there a common link between the most innovative approaches being taken by employers on campus?

As we all know, the graduate recruitment market is so competitive that clients need to work very hard to ensure they appeal to the candidates that they want to attract. It is very clear that we are all being bombarded with an ever-increasing number of marketing messages, which makes it increasingly difficult to gain that all-important cut through.

The most successful campaigns are invariably the ones that connect emotionally with the target audience, but then are faithful to the nature and appeal of the role(s) with the experience on campus. “Field of Sparks”, for example, worked so well in part because it highlighted how inventive and bold J.P. Morgan is as a business and an employer, and the elegance and complexity of its technology.

Has social media changed everything?

Social media, with the likes of Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, certainly means there are vastly more platforms available to marketers and graduate recruiters, and it is now one of our key offerings and permeates the majority of our campaigns.

The crux of how best to attract the best candidates remains the same as it has always been, though – getting students to engage with the employer early and open a two-way dialogue where both parties can assess if it is the right opportunity for them.

On-campus activity, especially in educational establishments, which are crucibles of future talent and have always been connected by “social networks” in the broader sense, is still crucial to ensure that students can get a first-hand understanding of the different employers and the clients themselves have a platform to put forward their pitch.

Digital social networks are a great means of getting those messages out to a far wider audience and, hopefully, to engage with students in an environment in which they are comfortable, but they can’t replace the face-to-face interaction needed to really engage students.

Non-verbal communication is profoundly important to our experience as human beings, and to getting commitment and buy-in from prospective hires. So, as exciting as new digital channels are, they will never compete with good old-fashioned human interaction for gaining trust and creating real human engagement.

How do you think organisations will be attracting graduates in the future?

Employers need to be on top of their game when it comes to staying current and knowledgeable about the ways in which people communicate, especially in the graduate space where the average age of candidates is so much lower.

LinkedIn has quite quickly become a go-to destination for recruitment, but graduates can be poorly served by a system that focuses too heavily on people’s job history – new graduates often not having a vast amount of directly relevant work experience.

Whatever avenues, online or otherwise, become de rigeur for graduates in the future, it is fair to say that university careers fairs and other campus-focused options will continue to be crucial for clients to attract the best candidates because, at a strategic level, the campus landscape does not really tend to change all that much.

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See more of Graduate Promotions’ recent work on their website.

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