Every year, businesses compete in the graduate 'milk round', trawling through CVs, taking time to interview potential candidates, drawing up a short list and making final offers. Here are a few pointers for potential employers to ease the strain.
Work experience is one way to pre-empt the milk round. After a few weeks or months of work, a business can gauge the attitude and potential of students and how well they fit into its working environment. If a full-time offer is made, the student also has a better idea of what to expect, thus avoiding disappointment on both sides. As a first port of call, contact the careers offices or departmental heads of universities and colleges.
Plan ahead to ensure students are given stimulating work that tests their full potential and put aside adequate resources to supervise them properly.
Graduate CVs can be a pitfall. They often look similar, but you need to dig below the surface. Consider whether the graduate's skills, experience and qualifications match up to your requirements. Take a closer look at the 'other interests' section. Do candidates have initiative and in-depth knowledge or have they exaggerated their interests to impress you? Follow up references and read between the lines.
At the interview, discuss company culture. Are you and the graduate clear on how their aims and expectations fit with the aims and expectations of the business? A misfit will only mean more time and money to find and train a replacement.
Don't have too fixed a view of the person you are looking for. Flexibility is key. Before you reject candidates, assess their potential. They may not have what it takes now but, by playing to their strengths and with a bit of training, they could become just the people the company needs.
Once an offer is made and accepted, what is it reasonable for you, as employer, to expect? However highly educated and streetwise, a graduate will need direction. They must be given a thorough training programme lasting between three weeks and two months. And that doesn't just mean shadowing a senior employee. After a minimum of three months, you can expect them to begin to take on responsibilities and tasks themselves.
Serena Pym is a recruitment consultant at Angela Mortimer, 0171 600 0286.