Graduate Attraction: Going Off-piste
Posted by: Jamie Betts, Principal Consultant, Capp
Something rather odd is happening. Despite a near record high in graduate unemployment, many graduate recruiters find it challenging to attract the very best candidates for their schemes. This reported candidate shortage doesn’t tally with the reality of the graduate job market. With over one million young people looking for work, what’s really going on?
If you speak to students, tutors, and careers service professionals outside of Oxbridge and the Russell Group, you’ll soon notice a trend: they are largely ignored by the bulk of prestigious graduate employers. What then happens is that frantic efforts are simultaneously expended by many employers on the ‘top 10′ UK universities, and particularly Oxbridge.
This creates a sharp division. If you attend a top university, graduate employers are falling over each other as they try to attract your attention – attending your careers fairs, lavishing student associations with sponsorship, and hosting events with free drinks to entice you along. Careers services are overwhelmed with employers wanting air time with their students.
If, however, you are unfortunate enough attend a university in the ‘lower 90%’ bracket, you’d be lucky to have a decent employer attending a single careers fair, let alone lavish you with sponsorship and events. The UK’s top few universities produce a finite number of graduates each year, which goes some way to explain why many graduate employers find it challenging to attract all the talent they need.
This isn’t the only problem. Even in attempting to attract the best talent from the top universities, many graduate employers follow a rigid cyclical timetable. This makes sense on one level, because graduate recruitment does operate in an annual cycle. But it also means that everyone is trying to attract the same finite pool of talent at exactly the same time. Slightly crazy.
Graduate employers who find it challenging to attract the best talent may enjoy greater success in breaking from their traditional cycle.
Don’t just attend the careers fairs with everyone else. Instead, build relationships with specific faculties, host independent events during the quieter months, think creatively about what you can offer undergraduates at each stage in their academic life.
And, importantly, ask the careers service what you can do for them, rather than what they can do for you – you may be surprised at their response.
Perhaps above all else, remember that a wealth of young talent exists outside the Russell Group. You’ve just got to be open to finding it.
Strengths Attraction is the first step in Strengths Selector, Capp’s five steps to strengths-based recruitment.