99% of top UK employers plan to hire at least one graduate this year and 7% plan to hire more than 500. This statistic combined with BBC reports this week that graduate posts in the UK have grown 17% and that nearly a quarter of businesses had been unable to fill graduate posts last year, mean business can be sure they will need to fight if they are to secure the top talent.

The latest statistics, found by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR), show that not only is the demand for talent with the right qualifications and skill sets increasing, but there is also a shortage in supply of suitable candidates. This deficit is causing increasing panic for businesses across the UK as roles remain unfilled for unsustainable periods of time. So given the current climate, what can businesses do to give themselves the best chance of sourcing a high quality candidate, in the shortest possible time and at the lowest possible cost?

Be proactive, not reactive

Although ‘hindsight is a wonderful thing’, when it comes to recruitment (particularly in a competitive climate), having a proactive recruitment strategy really is the best way to stay several steps ahead of your competition and secure the best candidate.

According to the latest figures by the REC, eight out of ten employers (79%) plan to increase their permanent hiring in the next 4-12 months. So even if you’re not actively recruiting right now, it’s important to look ahead to the roles you may be filling in the future. This way, businesses can have a dedicated pool of qualified candidates for any perspective roles well in advance of the vacancy even arising, which will give businesses a solid sourcing platform which will drastically increase the chances of finding a quality hire, quickly and at the lowest cost.

Recruit Smart

As a prospective employer, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking solely about the needs of your business when filling a role. However, in this competitive environment it’s all about balancing the needs of your business with the needs of a candidate – selfish sourcing is unlikely to secure and retain the best talent.

So what do graduates look for from a prospective employer? A survey of over 14,000 graduates conducted by the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU) showed that three elements contributed towards almost 70% of the decision making process when searching for a role: employer brand, progression opportunities and the job description. Only 6% cited salary as a motivator and just 13% were interested in the location of the job.

In a competitive recruiting environment businesses should realise that sinking financial incentives into salaries and recruitment agencies is not the best way to secure the best talent. Companies should refine their strategy in order to encompass these findings, ensuring that throughout the candidate journey they are maximising the visibility of their employer brand and effectively showcasing the growth opportunities available to candidates should they be successful.

In a climate where demand outstrips supply, building your employer brand and strategically engaging with dedicated pools of talent in this way as part of an overarching proactive strategy is the best way to facilitate the selection and retention of the candidates that fulfil your needs.

For further information about how to form a strategic recruitment plan which enables your business to reach the highest quality candidates quickly and cost effectively, download our whitepaper on recruitment strategy.