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[Checklist] How to attract top graduates to your business

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There is a great deal of competition to recruit the best graduates, especially with a growing number of engineering and manufacturing companies facing skills shortages.

If you’re struggling to attract suitable candidates or are worried about launching a new graduate programme, there are three general pitfalls to avoid:

  • Lacking structured plans for graduate development
  • Being perceived as unappealing to young people
  • Not being clear about graduates’ future prospects

The following checklist will help you structure your graduate recruitment to address these issues.

1. Put a mentoring scheme in place

Graduates are incredibly focused on continuing professional development. A company’s structure for facilitating this has a major impact on recruitment success.

For example, top graduates actively seek roles that offer a route to chartered status. We’ve seen candidates turn down higher salaries to take advantage of such an opportunity.

Make sure you have a robust mentoring scheme in place, ideally affiliated to and accredited by an industry body such as the Institute for Mechanical Engineers. Graduates see third-party certification as proof of your commitment to training, and view you more favourably as a result.

2. Foster a social scene

Graduates want to make friends at work, and the level of camaraderie on offer is a big influence on the decision making process.

Organise and promote social activities to ensure trainees have opportunities to meet other young people in the business. Importantly, showcase your social calendar on recruitment materials and give candidates the opportunity to speak to current trainees about social engagement.

3. Structure trainees’ work to prime them for future opportunities

A job isn’t for life anymore, and graduates want to use their first job to make themselves marketable. They see you as the ticket to the next opportunity – whether it’s internal or external.

During the recruitment process emphasise what trainees will take away from you to help progress their career. For example, heavy involvement in a project with a defined end, so they can point to measureable results. Or the fact that they’ll acquire a valuable skillset, such as operating specific equipment.

4. Create case studies of successful graduates

Top graduates are ambitious and want to progress quickly. Graduate case studies demonstrate career paths of previous graduates, giving a firm demonstration of your commitment to nurturing trainees.

Include information such as how much graduates can typically earn in two years’ time and where they can progress within your organisational structure. The more specific you can be, the more appealing graduates will find your business.

5. Be environmentally and socially active as a company

Graduates tend to be influenced by corporate social responsibility. Employers that attract top candidates are active in the community, treating CSR as more than a box ticking exercise.

Be specific about how graduates can get involved in this regard. Do you have regular team-building days with a charitable emphasis? Such as volunteering in a food bank or doing a group fundraising cycle or run? Have photographs and links to local newspaper articles in your graduate recruitment materials.

6. Build strong links with universities

The stronger your relationship, the more attractive you are as an employer – because the universities act as your ambassadors to students.

Identify priority university courses and reach out to the head of faculty to identify ways of getting involved. For example, you may be able to offer students the use of equipment on your premises. Another successful approach is to offer packages of work for students to work on, with a prize for the best response.

These types of links help keep you front of mind, giving you an opportunity to showcase your facilities and your commitment to training early on – before students are actively seeking jobs and you’re competing directly with other employers.

7. Offer placements and/or internships

Placements last between six months and a year and occur in the middle of a university course, for example before the final year. Internships are for those who have already graduated and want a defined period of work experience, usually with payment to cover expenses.

Providing these opportunities is a relatively inexpensive way for you to identify and attract top graduate talent before you invest in extensive training and mentoring.

For more advice on selecting graduates who will add value to your business, contact us for our guide on setting up and running a graduate assessment centre.

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