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Graduate recruitment ultra-competitive globally as places become more prestigious and scarce

The recruiter battle for the strongest graduates is becoming so intense with students more empowered than ever before, according to two industry leaders.

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In a study of almost one million applicants and excerpts of responses from almost 40,000 business students across four international regions.[1], leading global talent acquisition software provider WCN and employer branding thought leader Universum have compiled The must know student recruiting trends for 2018.

Based on the analysis conducted by WCN, the following global conclusions can be reached:

  • Competition is tougher than you might imagine – Across the applications reviewed, of those applying, only approximately 2% make the offers stage, whereas an average of 70% of candidates find themselves screened out from the start.
  • Fallout rates are big so engagement is king - Decline, withdraw and renege rates vary across the world (combined these can be as large as 30%) but a universal finding is that from the thousands applying, the numbers falling into one of these three groupings are consistently in the hundreds.
  • Diversity continues to be a big challenge in student hiring – Female applications underwhelm male applications in quantity but females are more successful than men at receiving offers.
  • Working Abroad is a booming area amongst graduates – Despite ever-changing political climates, more and more overseas students are applying for roles outside of their country of nationality looking to experience work in different offices and nurture their desires to travel. The numbers securing roles varies but are prominent in the UK despite the Brexit vote, whilst large numbers of UK applicants are finding success in APAC offices and Canadians cross the border to work in the US.
  • The prominence of elite universities is also a mixed bag - Whilst analysis of US data shows less leaning towards students with Ivy League backgrounds, UK data shows a bigger leaning towards Russell Group universities with three quarters securing posts despite criticism from social mobility lobbyists.
  • Gaps in ethnicity still exist – There is a gap in roles being filled by Black and Hispanics across all regions which could be eased by more diversity focus – particularly in the US and UK where the proportion of roles filled are significantly lower than applications received.

WCN Founder & CEO Charles Hipps comments: “This report clearly demonstrates the need for recruiters to expand sources, find diamonds in the rough and improve diversity in a hugely competitive landscape. Engagement is key to this and recruiters really need to be thinking about how to accelerate their commitment to hiring superstars by personalising approaches to candidate nurturing so that you can vie to be faster than your competitors.”

Universum’s data reveals stark insights into what students expect to choose an employer as ideal for them including:

  • 48% of students would not choose an employer as ideal if they do not know enough about them and 13% would be put off if they felt employers did not recruit from their school.
  • Top drivers for choosing a graduate/rotational program include demonstrating business integration (52%), development opportunities (51%), mentorship (28%), leadership programs (36%) and having a variety of rotations (30%).
  • In every country profiled, having a work/life balance and offering security/stability in jobs were ranked as the top two career goals for business students. Working for an international company/organization or working for a privately-owned national company/organization were the top choices for what students most want to do after graduation.
  • Universally across all regions, students selected social media as the most used and most effective communication channel and Facebook as the best of these websites. Employer websites and career fairs were second and third in every study.

“Our research shows that students indeed have more options than before – they are both indicating a broader interest for different industries and employers as well as assessing their personal fit with the values of their future organization”, comments Universum Managing Director for Americas, Jonna Sjövall.

Full regional breakdowns of how graduate recruiting is performing based on office locations can be found in the full report.


[1] Universum Talent Research was conducted between October 2016 and March 2017 – the number of respondents for business students in each region are as follows: 1,771 – Hong Kong, 2,715 – Singapore, 8,677 – UK and 26,809 for the US.