Five tips for a stand-out graduate program

For employers, graduate programs remain a powerful tool for developing “home-grown” talent

Five tips for a stand-out graduate program

Graduate recruitment season is around the corner, and it’s an important time for companies to freshen up their HR strategies as a new pool of graduates enter the workforce.

Students gravitate towards graduate programs for their high-quality training, the diverse skill-sets that come from departmental rotations, and their career progression opportunities. For employers, graduate programs remain a powerful tool for developing “home-grown” talent with a view towards succession planning.

Today’s fast-moving job market, however, has put pressure on recruiters to screen, attract, and retain talent much more efficiently than before. Here are five tips to give your graduate program a boost among increasingly discerning workforce entrants:

1. Digitise your strategy

Like it or not, hiring is going digital. A 2017 report reveals that 59% of Australians use social networking sites at least once a day, 89% of whom are between the ages of 18 to 29[1] - prime candidates for any employer’s graduate program. From mobile-friendly application forms to social media engagement, businesses can start building a network of potential candidates well before official recruitment season by sharing their company culture, resources and job opportunities on social and digital platforms. Some businesses we’ve worked with are even starting to “seed” themselves by organising virtual reality tours of their offices or deploying career tests to chart students’ potential career journey at their company.

2. Personalise your brand

Going digital also allows your brand to address potential graduate hires on a much more relatable level. Regular blog posts or live-streamed career workshops, for example, help answer fresh graduates’ potential concerns and establish your business as an employer that cares about them – not just the bottom line. Other examples include live Q&A sessions with senior management so that candidates feel better prepared before applying for a role; or using tactful email follow-ups so applicants don’t drop off halfway through the application process.

3. Meet face-to-face

There are some things digital can’t do. Today’s candidates have high expectations, and people want to see beyond the brand and delve into a company’s culture. By showing up and being present on campus and for live events, your business not only “puts a face to the brand” but addresses candidates’ questions or concerns in the most empathetic way possible. Hosting events encouraging BAME applications or Women in Leadership, for example, can help to break down barriers that may otherwise deter some applicants.

4. Offer internships

Internships are a great way of feeding your Graduate Programs. This “early intervention” gives your business a head-start to the recruitment cycle by training students as early on as second year. According to professional services firm PwC, internships are more effective for recruiting top graduates than direct hires straight out of university.[2] That’s usually because interns already have a network of contacts and a strong understanding of the business by the time they graduate.[3]

5. Automate your processes

Technology plays a major role in how we find, engage and shortlist talent. Cloud-based automation and smart algorithms can now reduce administrative tasks to a minimum, so that recruiters can focus on promoting company values and culture. Software can screen through CVs, highlight necessary skills, perform background checks, and produce interview shortlists. For a more rigorous approach, integrated testing can also weed out unsuitable candidates at an early stage, saving both them and your business time for other, more appropriate opportunities.

For candidates, text-recognition tools also allow them to upload resumes without duplicating details on online forms, making it a win-win situation for all.

Graduate recruitment season brings with it intense competition for top talent. But the earlier your business can establish itself in the minds of young adults, the easier it becomes to recruit and retain the best and brightest each year.

A combination of creative digital strategies, early-involvement tactics like internships, and old-fashioned human contact can inject new vigour into any graduate program and the talent it attracts.

By Marion Robinson, Chief Growth Officer at PageUp





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