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Nick Griffin

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Maintaining the talent pipeline through a downturn


Nick Griffin, Head of Graduate Services at GRADdirect, part of Reed Specialist Recruitment, discusses how recruiters can meet the increased demands for higher quality recruits from the business with fewer resources, less time and a reduced budget.

Close to half (42.3%) of graduate recruiters who responded to a GRADdirect survey said they were going to hire a similar number of graduates in 2009-10 as they did the previous season. More than one in 10 (11.5%) reported that they were going to increase the number of graduate hires.

The clamour for places on next year’s graduate schemes will be greater than ever, with 2009 graduate numbers similar to those in 2008 and more graduates from previous years still in the job market. When you then factor in the advice being given to many graduates to widen their job search criteria, it isn’t surprising that two-thirds (65.4%) of graduate recruiters predicted applications would increase and 15.5% said they thought application numbers would increase by more than 25%.

The spotlight on graduate recruitment has arguably never been more intense. Businesses are seeking recruits capable of not only helping their organisation survive these tough times, but also with the potential to become future leaders.

How ironic then, that to successfully meet these even more demanding challenges, graduate recruiters will have to demonstrate the same innovative thinking and approach so keenly sought and valued among candidates!

Time poor
Nearly a quarter (22.7%) of graduate recruiters claimed the most time-consuming aspect of their role is reading or screening CVs and application forms. As applicant numbers increase, the time demands at this early stage in the selection process will be even greater for the 2010 season.

Candidates themselves will also add to the time pressures on graduate recruiters. Not only will they be more likely to make an increased number of requests for updates on the status of their applications, but also they will be keener than ever to progress through the recruitment process and receive their first job offers as quickly as possible.

Work smarter not harder
When asked where they considered the graduate recruitment team should spend the majority of its time, 22.7% of graduate recruiters ranked ‘Engaging with the wider business’ at the top – which was second only to ‘Attending recruitment fairs’, thought to be most valuable by 40.9% of respondents. Meanwhile, ‘Reading/screening CVs and applications forms’ was deemed to be most important by a mere 9.1%.
Graduate recruiters need to find smarter ways to work, because maintaining a ‘business as usual’ approach and simply working harder to compensate for the reduced resources just won’t work.

1: Smarter attraction

The more accurately targeted and candidate-relevant the attraction strategy is, the greater the quantity and quality of relevant applicants it will deliver to the start of the recruitment process. Recruiters could free up significant time in the recruitment season and save money by using data from previous campaigns and engaging with experts to design an attraction strategy focused on delivering the candidates the business requires, rather than simply generating the highest number of applicants possible.

By bringing in external experts to assist in attraction design and to manage the associated response, the in-house team is freed up to spend more time on activities that they feel deliver most value to the organisation – attending recruitment fairs (40.9%), engaging with the wider business (27.3%) and attending assessment centres (22.7%).

2: Smarter candidate management
Good candidate attraction work can be undone and the time and money invested in it wasted by poor candidate management. Inefficient candidate management damages the employer brand and increases the number of applicants who drop out mid-process.

Worst-case scenario is that recruiters can then be left with too few suitable candidates to put through to the final stages of the recruitment process, which necessitates costly repeat advertising to attract a fresh group of potential employees.

Giving the responsibility for candidate management to a third party expert provider will not only allow the in-house team to concentrate on other elements of the process, but also help save money by optimising the number of high quality candidates who are delivered to assessment centres. The calibre of candidates at this stage is in itself often a critical measure used to determine how effective the graduate recruitment team has been.

3. Smarter use of time and processes
Recruiters know what they should be doing – which activities are most important to the business and those that will deliver the most value. The problem for many, though, is that they don’t currently spend their time as effectively and efficiently as they would like.

Now must be the time to make the necessary changes to graduate recruitment processes to ensure objectives are achieved. Selecting the most suitable recruitment processes and considering the use of third party partners to carry out specific activities will maximise the effectiveness of each stage of the process. If these partners are engaged to conduct the initial application screening, recruiters could realise huge time savings whilst also increasing the calibre of candidates delivered to the business at the latter stages.

One Response

  1. Building the corporate brand to aid recruitment

    I agree that next year graduate recruiters will no doubt be inundated with applications due to the number of post grad students entering the jobs market.  Employers such as Marks and Spencer have gained a reputation for investing in employee training and development and are recognised as an organisation that looks after it’s employees.  Many leading companies are able to leverage their reputation of being an employer that cares about it’s people and therefore naturally attract the best talent in the market place.

    Attracting good calibre graduates is important, however retaining them in is vital in order for comapnies to see a return on their considerable investment.  

    David Moore


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