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Common graduate recruitment problems and how to overcome them

With an incredible rise in graduate vacancies expected in the coming years, graduate recruitment is a hot topic among both large organisations and SMEs in the UK. University-leavers are not only well practised in transferable skills, eager to learn and cheaper to hire, but they will also bring a range of fresh, new ideas to any organisation, so they are a great addition to any workforce.

Yet, many employers looking to hire a graduate are struggling to hire the right graduates; those who will integrate well with the team, bring the necessary skills and attributes, and those who will remain committed to the organisation beyond the first year.

Here are the most common graduate recruitment problems faced by businesses of all sizes in the UK and how they can be resolved.

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A lack of applicants


One of the biggest issues employers face is an outright lack of graduates applying for their graduate schemes. Although this is of particular concern for SMEs, many large organisations can often experience this same problem. If you are not targeting the right audience then you are not marketing your schemes effectively.

The solution? There are a number of ways to increase the number of applicants applying for graduate positions. Businesses will need to utilise social media campaigns and cover all traditional recruitment channels in order to reach a wider pool of talent. All job descriptions should be clear and concise, and should advertise the company’s culture and employee benefits in order to appeal to candidates and become a competitive company in the marketplace.

Additionally, businesses can benefit from third party help in the form of recruitment agencies – particularly when the candidates are required to have a particular set of hard skills. Specialist recruiters will be able to fix graduate attraction issues, raise your brand profile and fill graduate roles with top talent.

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Candidates lose interest during the application process


Some graduate employers run application processes that are so long or overly complicated that many graduates lose interest or become disheartened and then fail to complete it. Laden with choice, graduates can be quick to dismiss vacancies particularly when there are many others to choose from.

The solution?  An application process should strike the balance between being easy enough to encourage applications, while providing enough detail that a candidate has to be truly motivated to complete it.  Requesting a simple CV, cover letter or portfolio upload along with a few answers to role-specific questions will be enough to gain all the information you need.

As well as having a succinct application process, the job description and company culture play an important part of attracting candidates and making them eager to apply. Think about how your brand comes across, and try to emphasise employee development. Keeping candidates informed during the recruitment process will help to maintain interest.

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A lack of candidates with the necessary skills


Hard skills are necessary for graduate jobs, but most employers will agree that it is also necessary for graduates to have a range of soft skills to help them progress in the work place and become an integral part of the workforce. During recruitment, employers tend to overlook graduates who are lacking these professional skills, and therefore find a lack of acceptable candidates.

The solution?  Having just left a learning environment, graduates are adaptive and eager to learn. On average it can take a graduate up to a year to develop soft skills. It is down to employers to offer their new employees adequate training in order for graduates to develop these essential skills. As long as the candidate has the necessary hard skills, emotional and social skills can be developed over time.

Candidates reneging on accepted offers of employment


With the increase in graduate vacancies, graduates are often faced with a plethora of jobs of which to choose. This means many are accepting offers then continuing their job-hunt in search for more preferable vacancies. In unprecedented numbers, graduates are reneging on offers having previously accepted them leaving employers disappointed and often out of pocket.

The solution?  To ensure your graduate job ads are reaching a wider pool of talent. Your search should go beyond those who are engaged with traditional media and campus recruitment channels to those who may not be following these traditional routes. Many ideal candidates don’t often attend careers fairs or presentations, so you will need to refocus your search strategies and expand your audience.

Graduate recruitment problems - how to retain the best graduate talent

Low retention rates of new recruits


It’s thought that 1 in 4 graduates plan to leave their first employer within a year.  The main problem is that a lot of graduates will apply for just any job they see, using it as a stopgap while they continue to look and apply for their dream job. Graduates are able to do this because some employers will run very vague job adverts that are open to everyone rather than targeting the applicants they need.

The solution?  Graduates looking to start their careers want to know the opportunities that are available to them, how they can expand and develop their skills, and how they might progress within an organisation. So tailor your job descriptions to the right people. This means be specific on the requirements, explain the organisations culture and look to highlight employee benefits.