School’s out, Graduates in!

When I looked in my calendar last Tuesday and noticed it was the 2nd of July, I got slightly exited. It was exactly one year ago that I handed in my master’s thesis and that particular date will always be kind of magical to me. I remember looking forward to it a lot, while it frightened me even more. One thing that I didn’t do upfront of that deadline though, was looking for a job. That time a year, students worry about questionnaire respondents, referencing systems, theoretical frameworks and research methodologies instead. It is a major contrast with the period right after the thesis submission and defence: newly graduates suddenly have time to relax, go on a (well-deserved) holiday and start looking for a job.

This therefore means that it is the start of peak season for graduate recruiters. This is THE time to hire. It is a critical period for many companies, bearing in mind the importance of having young graduates within the organisation. Their fresh perspectives, high energy and different workplace expectations foster an innovative approach. They require and expect training, supervision and personal development programs, which in turn stimulate the overall corporate learning environment. Apart from that, young graduates are the senior managers of tomorrow.

Unfortunately, graduate recruitment is not as easy as the title of this blog post might suggest (my bad, it’s just so catchy). It is actually a very complicated discipline. Cooney (2017), recognises three challenges in particular. He firstly mentions that this demographic requires a thorough assessment of their soft skills. This has, among others, to do with the fact that they usually do not have much of a CV, apart from their academic performances. Secondly, he suggests that organisations should adjust their corporate culture, in order to be more appealing to the potential future workforce, since this generation is known to be very loyal to their own values. I kindly disagree to this suggestion though, as a corporate culture is closely connected to the core brand values and the brand personality. They should both be stable in order for organisations to be authentic and genuine, which is explained in Moser’s (2003) leading brand strategy roadmap (an absolute must read!). Yet, it is important for graduate recruiters to be transparent about the company culture, because a mismatch on this matter could easily lead to a high staff turnover, especially among the young professionals. Lastly, Cooney (2017) discusses the challenge of only attracting the very best graduates. In a state of talent war, high potential graduates are also approached by your competitors both at home and abroad. Whenever you have succeeded to make them apply, it is of the utmost importance not to lose them during the process, while assessing their true potential mainly on soft skills.

The Graduate Recruitment Bureau (2018) even adds another dimension to Cooney’s (2017) challenge of attracting the brightest graduates. Not only is it difficult to get the very best motivated to apply, the sheer number of students graduating every year can also lead to an overload. They discuss a survey that indicated that 15% of the employers would like to reduce the numbers of graduate applicants (vs 10% who would like to see an increase). In times of talent war, I cannot really get used to that statistic and I also think reducing the number of applicants should never be the purpose. Having a time efficient and qualitative screening structure in place is much more valuable, especially for this target group, where personality is decisive. Another noteworthy survey result is that the main challenge (69%) would be to achieve diversity targets, whereas students are not necessarily a homogenous group.

So, how can recruiters overcome these challenges and bring in the desired graduates this summer? I again like to make a suggestion: use the power of video in the process. A video interview is much more reliable for assessing soft skills than a paper CV. It reveals a candidate’s personality, while the organisation is introduced to the candidate in a much more transparent way as well. A perfect way to showcase the brand in a fast and seamless experience. Millennials are used to this medium and have a ‘order before 12pm for next day delivery mentality’ and do not want to get stuck in endless processes. Video recruitment then functions as the ultimate employer branding tool to reach the candidates and keep them engaged. The recruiter, on the other hand, has a better impression of the applicants, earlier in the process. This makes it possible to make better hiring decisions at a much higher pace as well. The structured nature of a video interview, moreover, helps graduate recruiters to overcome bias. Especially when this is combined with a completely bias-free AI, organisations can work on achieving their diversity targets, starting this summer.

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