Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

What are future business leaders looking for as part of their application journey?

Charles Hipps, CEO & Founder, Oleeo

Competition for posts is stiffer than ever, so how can fresh talent and future business leaders stand out from the crowd and secure the first job they truly want? And how can HRDs and their teams make sure that they are meeting these expectations and working to retain this talent as future leaders?

The Institute of Student Employers recently published Inside Student Recruitment 2019 and it shows that despite the county’s political turmoil employers have been continuing to recruit new entry-level talent in a positive and optimistic way.

That study shows that employers are not just recruiting large numbers of new graduates and schools leavers, they are also recruiting more than they did last year. Graduate numbers are up by 10% while non-graduate (e.g. school leavers) hires are up by 7%.

In a blog, the ISE’s Chief Researcher Tristram Hooley remarks: “On the graduate side this has been an unusually good year as we haven’t seen this level of rise since 2013 and 2014. We have also seen increases in salaries with the average graduate starting salary now at £29,000 (a £750 increase on last year) and the average non-graduate starting salary now at £17,417 (up by almost £1000 on last year).”

So with the market so resilient, how do you capture interest from these business leaders to apply for a role with your business? Our own trends research has found that the top 5 most attractive attribute preferences for candidates from recruiters were having leaders who will support development, having a creative/dynamic workflow environment, high future earnings, clear path for advancement and professional training and development. Career goal messages around work/life balance, job security and stability and the ability to become a leader or manager of people, to be dedicated to a cause or to feel that they are serving a greater good and to be entrepreneurial or creative/innovative were the most highly desired among business students.

Universum Global has also shared wider data with Oleeo that also reveal 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%).
  • 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.
  • The talent emerging from colleges is part of a generation that communicates digitally, at a frenetic pace. In fact, being connected to information virtually 24/7 is all they’ve ever known. And when they can’t find what they’re looking for quickly, they move on.

With the race for talent intensifying, HR professionals are understandably feeling pressure to increase velocity and win the hearts and minds of qualified candidates sooner. That means pouring more time and energy into graduate programs – we see this every year with our own community of graduate recruiters at Oleeo who are determined to secure the top talent and are increasingly nervous of competition – not just from traditional mainstream rivals but also from the entrupenrial start up communities who offer professional development without having to give up the youth vibe fresh out of uni!

Whether it’s time delays, poor communication with applicants, or a bad online user experience, graduate recruiters and employers risk losing qualified candidates. As candidates are left in the dark, they consider other offers. Remember, these applicants are constantly online and expect interactions and information. In the absence of communication throughout the hiring process, they’ll seek it out with other employers. Losing out on a qualified recruit could mean months, if not years, of work have gone to waste and the search for other qualified candidates must start over — but now with a picked-over talent pool.

Evidently graduate candidates now expect recruitment processes to be smooth, frictionless and seamless, always personalised and built on authenticity. If you start the engaging process very early, you will find it easier to realise efficiencies in your talent acquisition success. But with resourcing stretched so thinly, this can feel harder than the reality is. The fact is that not understanding career aspiration and then not meeting expectation is where the process is falling down for all the horror stories of businesses not achieving retention rates from their graduate pools and actually building a future leader pool as the whole concept of graduate recruiting is meant to be all about. For all the success stories about CEOS having started as graduates, the same feels unlikely in the modern age.