In my experience, each year businesses discuss the exciting new proposition for the following year’s graduate scheme and approach it with enthusiasm and excitement.
To be fair…why would they not? I have experienced the success of finding and appointing top quality graduate candidates and have seen first-hand the benefit of their approach, determination and fresh outlook.
However, the planning stage of the recruitment process sometimes falls flat when other business priorities and BAU creeps in.
The benefits of Graduates
Many graduates are fabulous at bringing energy, passion and the commitment of years of hard studies and hours of research and are ready to take on whatever a business can throw at them. They tend to be flexible, eager to prove themselves, are tech savvy (major advantage!) and are a complete blank canvas without the ‘we’ve always done it this way’ view of the world.
Graduates are a great succession planning tool for any business and to watch them grow, once they are appointed, it the best bit!
So get in front of them
The graduate market however is hugely competitive. Many university students know what they want to achieve – or indeed know how quickly they want to get into the world of work.
So a creative well executed attraction strategy is required quickly as many candidates will start to look for opportunities at the beginning of their final academic year.
Job fairs, business interactions and proactive approaches to ‘student services’ can run for almost 12 months to court a prospective quality, well placed and perfectly driven cohort that can inspire and lead the next generation of a business.
My recommendation would be to actually start sooner than that – catch them in Year 2 – give them a flavour of your business through a scheduled visit to their university, leave them with some advice and guidance and a taste of what you are all about. If you can engage through this route, individuals will keep an eye on your business and will be ready to apply for your scheme when it is hot off the press.
The selection process
The selection process is then equally as important. As graduates come through the generations, ‘traditional’ recruitment processes will just not make the cut for them. In most cases, they are looking for a business as forward thinking as their career plans and the recruitment process is their first impressions of this.
Allowing all assessment to be done on the day is a huge plus for a graduate. They thrive on this pressure – their studies have allowed them to perfect their presentation skills – and working in groups for research purposes has given then the skillset to work in group scenarios.
From a Hiring Manager’s perspective, a day of assessment is perfect to see how individuals would perform in a number of different situations. It also works as a candidate comparison day – ensuring the right decisions are made. The alternative is box ticking over a number of painstaking interview filled weeks, where in some cases, the best candidate has already been snapped up by the Employer who has gone above and beyond in investing the appropriate time and resources to engage with the candidates who are the very best for their business.
And don’t get me started on the way assessment centres can make graduates feel.
When they see the keen eyes of Hiring Managers, who have taken a day out of their busy diary to invest all their energy on them and this graduate scheme it truly demonstrates dedication and investment – the belief that the business wants to do the right thing and places a high importance on their graduate proposition.
‘When I reflect on the assessment centre I was part of, it is so obvious to me now that each task was designed to bring out the best in me, in addition to it being perfectly matched to the particular skills the business needed to see in the candidates. The day itself was brilliantly run, professional, organised and I felt comfortable and at-ease instantly, which is high praise considering how nervous I felt walking in!’ –
Sian Wakefield – previous graduate delegate now HR Business Partner ReQ
So let’s get to it. Let’s work on the proposition, the attraction strategy and create an inspiring assessment centre that truly demonstrates your company values and behaviours.
Let’s get that perfect cohort or individual!
SE AO Talent Partners – experienced Graduate Assessment Centre providers.