According to the Association of Graduate Recruiters, over 30% of companies failed to recruit the number of graduates that they wanted to, last year. This may sound ludicrous, in the middle of the biggest world economic crisis for 70 years, but a closer look at the detail provides some explanation as to the reasons for this.
A normal Graduate Recruitment scheme seeks to find and employ high-potential individuals who can be fast-tracked to senior positions within a company, to the benefit of both parties. It’s clear, from the report, that although there are many graduates – and lots of them are unable to find a job – the calibre of applications received by companies is often mediocre, and candidates are not presenting themselves as well as they might. Those candidates who are impressing potential employers are often able to consider several job offers, and chose the one that most appeals to them, leading to even greater problems for employers who thought that they had filled their graduate recruitment quota, only to find their chosen candidates deserting them for a better offer.
Even in recessionary times, there are only limited numbers of high calibre candidates out there, and companies need to reach out to them, making sure that they are seen as an employer of choice amongst graduates and those that advise them. Sometimes it’s a question of offering more money than your competitors, but many highly motivated graduates are looking for more than just money. This is by no means scientific, but I reckon that things such as job satisfaction, career progression prospects, congeniality of colleagues, ethical products and acceptable work-life balance are all key factors when a new or recent graduate is deciding whether or not to accept a job offer. Employers need to ask themselves how highly they score in these areas.
For graduates who are wondering how to maximise their chances of getting recruited, I’d suggest that, as the report also concludes, each application has to be as good as it can be, so sending out hundreds of ill-prepared applications in the hope of getting a result from one of them is a pointless process. Research each company thoroughly, target the strengths that you will bring to them, and to the job that they are advertising, and above all, make sure that there are no stupid mistakes in your application. One way in which I used to sift mountains of applications for a graduate scheme was to reject anyone who had mis-spelled the name of the company. This may sound churlish, but I was recruiting for a Publisher, and most candidates stressed the fact that they had a meticulous eye for detail…….