According to the latest Association of Graduate Recruitment’s (AGR) Graduate Recruitment Survey 2007, graduate vacancies are set to rise for the fourth consecutive year by 12.7%, so human resources HR professionals can’t afford to get the recruitment process wrong if they want to retain their brightest graduates.
The research also reveals that out of 219 AGR members surveyed (employing 20,413 graduate recruits), the average graduate retention rate after two years is 74%, but after five years, this figure falls to 59%.
Head of graduate recruitment Cathy Hyde, at recruitment specialist Bernard Hodes, points out that while this may seem quite high, half the responding firms admitted they were dissatisfied with these retention rates. After all, it’s an expensive business to recruit, invest in graduates and train them.
With a flood of graduate vacancies, along with the erosion of the job for life and lack of job security, graduates are more likely to change jobs more frequently, explains Hyde.
However, they are more likely to stay for longer if they feel valued by their employer, enjoy their work, can see the opportunity for career progression, and are given interesting projects to work on.
Additionally, research published in the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s winter 2006-07 report found that 46% of employers anticipated difficulty in filling vacancies in 2007, largely due to the lack of high-calibre candidates.
This emergence of a buyer’s market in graduate recruitment means you’ll have to fight even harder in the war to secure quality applicants, believes Mark Milner, head of graduate recruitment at GRADdirect, part of Reed Consulting.
He warns employers that it’s time to take a reality check. “Successful and effective graduate recruitment isn’t rocket science,” he says.
“Make sure you don’t make empty promises in your recruitment campaigns which can’t be followed right through the recruitment process when a graduate is taken on. Focus on the graduate’s needs and build a relationship with that candidate. It’s important to recognise that they are testing you out as an employer.”
The recruitment procedure is also crucial in communicating messages about your company’s reputation.
In a study conducted by Reed Consulting in 2006, called Graduate Recruitment and Brand Management, 20% of the 2,500 graduates surveyed refused a job offer because they were unhappy with an organisation’s recruitment process. Even more worryingly, 66% of job applicants didn’t receive a response – making potential talent feel disregarded, devalued and alienated.
With graduate vacancies due to increase, says Milner, make sure you are not wasting your investment.
“The power has shifted to graduates, so you need to listen to their needs and take note of their requirements throughout the recruitment process,” he says.
Graduate recruitment the facts
- UK employers spend about £1.4bn a year on recruitment advertising.
- More than one-third of UK graduates avoid products and services offered by a company that disappointed them in the recruitment process.
- 90% of dissatisfied candidates tell family and friends about their bad experiences – which has serious implications for damaging both the consumer and employer brand.
- Failure to respond to a recruitment hotline phone call in 30 seconds results in 29% of applicants hanging up.
- 82% of respondents felt the use of a 100% automated interviewing method gave them limited availability to interact with the organisation.
Source: Candidates as Customer: Changing Attitudes to Recruitment, Reed Consulting (2007)