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Hiring graduates: how to overcome the challenges

Posted on: July 16th, 2015 by admin No Comments

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This year, 30%1 of companies are expected to hire more graduates than ever before.

Businesses hire graduates because university-leavers are:

  • Cheaper to hire
  • Quicker to learn
  • Practiced in transferable skills, such as written and oral communication, organisation and data analysis
  • Brimming with new ideas that can significantly improve the bottom line
  • Fundamental for succession planning.

However, the hard part is finding the right graduates; the ones who will meet and exceed your business needs, and stay loyal whilst they’re at it.

Below you will find three of the most common challenges experienced by employers running graduate programmes along with advice on how to find the solution.

1 in 42 graduates plan to leave their first employer within a year.

The problem is that many graduates apply for any job simply to secure a role straight out of university whilst they look for the career they actually want.

However, this wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for the generic job adverts employers run, designed to appeal to the masses in order to fulfil application quotas.

Graduates want to understand the opportunities available to them that will allow them to demonstrate the skills they have, and to develop and progress within an organisation. This is why your job descriptions must be specific; it’s the difference between finding talent that will settle into your company structure and culture to become integral to your business, and simply finding a fleeting, costly ex-employee.

77%1 of HR professionals believe their graduate employees lack the people skills necessary to protect the future of their organisation.

Technical skills are important but most businesses recognise that employees need emotional and social skills, or soft skills, to become a high performer in the workplace.

It can take six months to two years to develop these soft skills, and the employer will play an essential role in ensuring they are acquired to a high standard through adequate training.

Graduates, having just left a learner-centric environment, are often thought of as blank canvases and are more receptive to being moulded by a company’s culture. Therefore, the attitudes you encourage during your graduate training and development programme are likely to stick, which is why it’s imperative to instil all of the behaviours you want your graduate employee to be demonstrating in five years time right from day one.

Many employers don’t have the time or resources to run a graduate scheme.

Most application processes for graduate schemes will start a year in advance as employers attempt to nab the highest level of talent before they’re off the market. However, with an application period open for that long, the pool of candidate submissions is exhaustive, and it’s your hiring managers who will be up to their necks.

Outsourcing this responsibility is perhaps the most logical thing to do. Recruitment agencies will often visit universities, research top-tier candidates and run industry-specific marketing campaigns to attract the right graduates for your position. That frees up your HR team’s time to concentrate purely on the interview stages and the training plan for once your new graduate employees begin working with you.

Once you’ve found a star employee, you want them to stay. Click here to read about six of the best staff retention strategies »


1 Talent Culture, 2015. Hiring Graduates: The Challenges. [Online] Available at: http://www.talentculture.com/career-strategy/hiring-graduates-the-challenges/.
2 Recruiter, 2014. Employers face challenges retaining graduate recruits. [Online] Available at: http://www.recruiter.co.uk/news/2014/08/employers-face-challenges-retaining-graduate-recruits/.
[All information sources accessed 16th July 2015].

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