Credit: Nick Shepherd

How to recruit the best and brightest graduates

CRASH COURSE: Don't just rely on the university milk round if you want the star students to pick your company.

by Alexander Garrett
Last Updated: 27 Oct 2015

September and it's back to uni. Time to get busy if you want to make a start on hiring the next crop of graduates - unless you want all the best ones to be snapped up first. But how do you engage with today's students?

The milk round hasn't gone away ... It's been reinvented. 'Careers fairs and presentations are still important. It's just that now they've been complemented with a lot of other activity, particularly online,' says Ollie Sidwell of graduate marketing agency RMP Enterprise.

It's personal. 'The smart employers have moved from a commoditised mass market approach to highly specific personal targeting,' says James Uffindell, founder of student careers organisation Bright Network. 'There are half a million graduates a year, and our clients focus on the top 20%. It's no longer about farming, the new model is hunting.'

Don't hang around. 'Employers are inviting students to insight days or weeks in their first year, then picking those they like to fast track to their second-year programme,' says Uffindell. 'A lot of the talent is getting locked in early.'

Send your best. Today's students are too savvy to be fobbed off with the HR team. 'They are increasingly demanding to speak to successful people in the business who can tell them what it will be like to work there,' says Uffindell.

Intimate soirée, anyone? Spend your budget more effectively on targeted smaller events like campus dinners and one-to-one meetings with candidates who've been prescreened.

Use word of mouth. Social media, campus ambassadors and other peer-to-peer techniques can help give your message extra credibility. Today's students 'favour the recommendations, advice and opinion of people they believe they can trust, people like themselves or key influencers such as parents and tutors,' says the Association of Graduate Recruiters' Best Practice manual.

Think multichannel. 'Students want to access careers information however and whenever they want to - it could be at two in the morning,' says Sidwell. 'So you need to cover all the bases and have an online presence 24/7.'

Give something back. Millennials like competitions and skill-based challenges, says Sidwell. 'They will feel they have learned something, rather than spending hours filling in a form.'

Do say:

'You have been identified as a high-potential candidate and we would like to invite you to discover what we have to offer.'

Don't say:

'Finished university? Maybe it's time to start thinking about your career?'

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