Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Graduate Recruitment – A scheme or a market?

How many graduates does your firm hire every year? 50? 100? 250?

Well our guess is somewhere near 2 or 3 times that number. Puzzled? Ask yourself a simple question – how many of your administrators, junior IT guys or support reps have joined pretty much straight from university?

Walk around any large firm these days and you’ll find large numbers of recent graduates doing the sort of jobs that school leavers used to do. Why? There are a few factors here:
More and more people are going to university and entering the workforce later in life
The supply of traditional ‘graduate’ jobs hasn’t grown with the extra supply
A significant percentage of these students have at least one year’s work experience
Lots of graduates (some surveys put this at around 50%) would prefer to go straight into jobs rather than join a traditional training scheme
Many see getting a job – any job – with a big firm as an opportunity to prove themselves (you told them you were a meritocracy didn’t you!)

So, how are firms adapting to this rapidly changing landscape? Well a lot are doing exactly what they historically have done – spend lots to attract a relatively small number of designated ‘high-flyers’ and spending lots with recruitment agencies to get the rest.

Yet it is possible and effective to use the graduate recruitment budget to target all these different types of future employees. The major change is that you should think of your firms approach graduates as building brand within a market, not selling a particular product (that training scheme). What does this involve?
First, understand where your firm has been making hires that are suitable for the graduate market. Here corporate data from HR systems, or text analysis from details stored on recruitment systems is useful, as is internal survey techniques.
Second, segment these hires. You could do this by job area, date hired (many roles are cyclical, if only because of the date when managers get budget). There are some great tools out there to help with this. Develop a strategy for each segment.
Third, any marketing collateral that has a shelf life (this includes things like general presentations which have a shelf life in the audience’s minds) should aim to promote the firm and your employment brand.
Your web site should act as a way of promoting current jobs (those jobs that are known about). Count your training programme as one of these and by all means increase the quantity of information about this.
You should be considering how to build a ‘relationship’ with visitors to the site with the ability to communicate updates, new jobs etc. The site can be used to market internships and other temporary opportunities.

What are typical results? Well with one recent client we got marketing costs per hire down by 80%, mainly by taking out recruitment firm costs. There is also an increased attention in your activities as you become more relevant to more people.

Finally, success from this type of approach can enable the firm to standardise other parts of the hiring process, such as selection, allowing increased quality and measurement.