Graduate schemes play a pivotal in many of today’s organizations, with employers increasing the number of graduate roles in their companies by nearly five percent in 2017 alone.
This trend suggests employers are realizing the huge business value qualified young professionals can bring to an organization, as they grow to become our future leaders.
In light of such findings, it’s also clear attracting and retaining top talent is becoming increasingly more competitive and a key question being asked by organizations is:
“How can we create a successful programme ensuring we are top of the list of graduate talent?”
1. Be targeted
Business leaders should work closely with their HR teams to differentiate job packages for ambitious graduates. To be competitive, they need to be distinctive, from what you would normally offer a potential candidate who already has a few years’ experience under their belt.
Millennials look at a job package as a whole, and it’s about more than just the money. They place high-value on holistic well-being and work-life balance, so make sure your offer includes details on company health insurance, flexible working, and greater holiday allowance.
Building strong connections with universities is fundamental to promoting a successful graduate scheme. Partnering with them closely will provide insights on the most relevant students to target and the best university fairs for your company to attend.
Career fairs and scheme talks will give you face-to-face time with the students most interested in your business. This allows you to build personal connections, giving a better idea of whether someone is a good fit for your team. Additionally, having universities certify your scheme will boost your credibility.
2. Give graduates the experience they desire
Offering experiences which your competitors can’t, instantly mean you stand out from the crowd. It may be this is through a rotational system, which offers the chance to “try before you buy” and test run certain positions.
Rotational schemes may seem like a lot of effort to organize, but the long-term benefits can make up for this. By allowing graduates to get a feel for different roles they can understand what interests them most and where their skills lie.
Or you could provide graduates with greater levels of involvement and make them accountable for certain projects, new research or launch one of the latest products. This is all great experience which might not be readily offered elsewhere.
You must be mindful though. A ‘sink or swim’ approach rarely works in business and can leave new recruits feeling demoralized and reluctant to take on future projects. While you want graduates to experience responsibility and creative freedom, you must also provide enough guidance and support to help them thrive.
Providing them with a mentor who is separate from their day-to-day manager will give graduates opportunities to raise concerns and identify ways to progress, while still allowing them to use their newly acquired skills in practice.
3. Make it cost-effective
Investing large sums into programmes does not always guarantee success. To achieve the best ROI, you must develop schemes which nurture employees and encourage them to stay with the company long after it ends.
Even if you can’t afford to offer high salaries, there are ways around this to make you just as appealing as larger corporate competitors. Younger employees seek more flexibility and control over their benefits. They’re also strongly interested in programmes including support for stress and promoting physical health. In response to this, you could provide more choice to appeal to these needs.
Sparking wellness-related challenges, with a fun and friendly approach can be an effective and inexpensive way to appeal to younger generations in the workplace. The craze for fitness trackers has been well noted by larger corporations, but smaller businesses can also benefit from this trend without a huge financial investment.
The mobile app Walkingspree promotes fitness aspirations encouraging people to reach step goals, either individually or as part of a group. It works by using employees’ personal fitness trackers, so it means businesses don’t have to shell out for costly gadgets.
You can offer health and fitness prizes for top job performances every quarter or six months – such as free sportswear, a set of PT sessions or massages – to drive business performance and healthy behavior. Again, you don’t need big budgets to do this in order to appeal to graduates.
4. Be mindful of recruitment processes
New research has found evidence data-driven recruitment algorithms have the potential to learn prejudices. Unless carefully monitored, their patterns can even detect patterns of underrepresentation and reproduce them.
So how can you ensure online graduate screening is accurate and you’re not missing out on strong candidates?
Firstly, invest budget on a reliable, digital platform. For example; algorithm-driven recruitment platform Headstart matches graduates to job opportunities based on psychometrics and mutual needs rather than which university they attended.
Make sure you include a face-to-face meeting early in the interview process. Even if a candidate does not perform well in an online test or telephone interview, if their CV stands out, it’s still worth meeting them. In person, they might show raw talent which just requires a bit of training and support for them to shine.
Perhaps try widening the pool from which your graduates are sourced. Many companies typically go back to the same handful of universities, meaning they end up hiring from the same socio-economic backgrounds. This potentially creates an environment lacking diversity of thought, which can be detrimental to business.
To create a more diverse workplace, companies like Deloitte have started implementing “university-blind interviewing” ensuring whoever is recruiting isn’t unconsciously or consciously favoring a person who attended a certain university.
Graduates have huge untapped potential and can be an asset if their skills are harnessed intelligently. Business leaders must provide graduates with the freedom to think for themselves and combine this with enough support to help them learn and thrive.
About the author: Emma Davidson is the Area Retail Manager for Express, a top five graduate employer amongst SME’s in the UK and voted top graduate employer in the Consumer Goods Industry.