How to Attract and Retain Graduates

Vicki Mann

Posted 18/07/2022
by Vicki Mann

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How to Attract and Retain Graduates

It's important for a company to have an influx of fresh, new talent working in their team. The COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting 'Great Resignation', caused a slight decline in the graduate employment rate. But now that industries are starting to bounce back, it's more important than ever for employers to make sure they recruit and are retaining recent graduates.

Recent graduates can be invaluable members of a business. Candidates fresh out of education can be seen as 'blank canvases' in that they typically have limited experience, which means they can adapt more easily to your company culture without having to unlearn any bad habits (unlike some more experienced applicants). They will still have the energy and interest to learn, and their openness to new ideas and experiences will make them an asset to any company. Graduates also naturally have a lower salary range; the median starting salary for graduates in 2019 was £24,126. This means companies can make more cost efficient hires without sacrificing on talent. 

While your company may have a recruitment process in place, it's just as important to have a solid retention plan as well. We've compiled a list of tips on how you can improve your graduate recruitment and retention strategies, ensuring you'll be making quality, long-term hires. 

Write effective job descriptions

The job description will be an applicant's very first introduction to both your company and the role available, which is why getting it right is so important in the initial recruitment phase. A well-written job description can help employers stand out from the crowd while making sure that you're only receiving applications from candidates who are fit for the job. 

The most basic job descriptions will consist of a job title, job description and requirements. It's important that these are as accurate as possible not only because you'll want to attract the most suitable candidates, but because after hiring, both the employer and employee will frequently refer to them to ensure all responsibilities are being fulfilled on both sides.

One of the best ways to write a compelling job description is to approach it as part of your marketing strategy. With a job description, you're essentially marketing your company and the role to attract the best talent. Keep it short and sweet and describe your company's culture, mission and services. Talk about the kind of workplace environment you maintain and how your company nurtures its talent. 

Build academic connections

Many graduates actually start building up their professional experience while they are still students. A large number of university programmes will offer an industry placement year where students can take a year out of their studies to gain real world experience in the workforce. Students also often take part in short-term internship programmes during their summer holidays.

Forming partnerships with education institutes (and even individual professors) will help your company's graduate recruitment strategy as you can attract and establish relationships with your potential hires before they have even graduated. An example of how your company could do this is offering placements and internships specifically for students. Another great option would be to set up graduate schemes, where candidates would not only secure a full-time position but also receive additional mentoring, job rotations and career path education. There are also many recruiters and organisations who help connect students and graduates with different employers. This serves as a great way to recruit and improve employee retention, as once they're familiar with your company, they'll be more likely to apply for a full-time role after they've graduated and stay long-term.

Optimise your company's social media strategy

Creating a detailed and compelling social media strategy can greatly improve your hiring cycles and decisions. While your company may already have a presence across the main social media platforms, it could be a good idea to create separate accounts specifically focused on your company's careers. 

A career-specific social media channel will provide a platform for your company to show the world what kind of work environment it has and essentially everything that is great about working at your company. You can also get creative with this method and use pictures and videos of your employees having fun team-building exercises, the company's community outreach activities and of the actual workplace - especially if it has great social areas and other eye-catching facilities. 

You can also use this to advertise any roles and vacancies available at your company. By keeping this separate from your business' main social platforms, it ensures your posts are targeting active job-seekers.

Include non-salary related offerings

Nowadays, job-seekers are looking for more than just a pay cheque from their job. This is especially true for graduate applicants who are most likely receiving multiple offers. By providing a varied benefits package for your team, you're able to recruit more top talent and sustain employee retention by ensuring that they feel valued. 

Graduates are often looking for a variety of things when applying for jobs such as flexible working, options for private health care, social development aids (e.g. gym memberships) and a good social environment within the company. By offering a package that enhances your employees' holistic development, you're able to show that your company cares about both professional and personal development.

Create a complete onboarding process

The onboarding process is essential to employee retention, especially if you're hiring new graduates and want to strengthen your employee retention strategies. Onboarding new employees typically involves training them on the technical aspects of the role, but it's also important to help them socially and culturally integrate into the team. This could mean introducing new hires to the team in a more social setting such as a team lunch or post-work drinks. Making sure your hires fit into your team culture is essential for creating a positive working environment and there are a variety of ways you can ensure this, including implementing psychometric personality tests to better understand your employees and how they work.

Having a complete onboarding process is a really important aspect of maintaining employee retention. With this, you'll be boosting employee engagement and ensuring your employees are happy with their new environment. The more comfortable your employees feel within their role and at the company, the more likely it is that they will stay on as long-term members of the team - thereby keeping employee turnover low. 

Emphasise progression & mobility

One of the most important things graduates ask for from their jobs is the possibility of career growth and mobility. This is especially important for applicants who are People of Colour or come from underrepresented backgrounds. To ensure that you will be retaining the top talent you worked so hard to recruit, it's important to show that your company values its employees' growth and provides opportunities for progression.

If you're hiring graduates, this could mean providing specific training and development programmes. Fresh graduates typically have limited work experience, and in their first full time role they will want to be supported and assured that there will be opportunities to grow and learn new skills. Having one-to-one mentorship programmes, where graduates are paired with more experienced employees, will also ensure their development and give them a glimpse of what their future at the company could look like.

Enhancing your graduate recruitment and retention strategies is important for ensuring that your company's employee turnover rate stays as low as possible. Through this, not only will you be increasing your company's efficiency and productivity but you will be maintaining your business' reputation as one that provides a fantastic place to work and genuinely cares about its employees' well-being. 

If you're interested in improving graduate employee retention and need help optimising your recruitment and retention plans, you can contact one of our consultants and we'll be more than happy to speak to you.

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