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How to run a graduate recruitment programme: A practical toolkit

Tags: Recruitment Process
  • Tackle skills shortages – tick
  • Cut recruitment costs – tick
  • Future-proof your workforce – tick
  • Boost loyalty and retention – tick

Graduate recruitment makes a whole heap of sense in today’s recruitment landscape. 

It’s a proven way to build your talent pipeline. And grow-your-own is a mile cheaper than hiring established professionals. (If you can even find them). Plus giving someone their first opportunity might just earn you career-long loyalty. 

But competition for early careers talent is high. How do you build a graduate recruitment programme that brings great just-joining-the-workforce talent to your door?

Keep reading for five practical tips:

  1. Hone your graduate EVP
  2. Make job fairs work harder for you
  3. Run graduate recruitment campaigns
  4. Tailor your recruitment journey to graduates
  5. Pay extra attention to ED&I

Hone your graduate EVP

Your EVP is the foundation of your employer brand. It defines the value, tangible and intangible, your people get when they work with you. 

Although there’ll be overlap, your EVP is different for different groups of employees. People’s priorities are different, and you serve those priorities in different ways. As the CIPD put it:

“Employees, like customers, are not a homogenous group. It can be beneficial to personalise the employment relationship to the needs of a diverse workforce – and this can mean emphasising different elements of the value proposition to different groups of employees or creating subsets of the overall value proposition”.

This is especially true for graduates, who often have a whole unique set of needs joining the workforce for the first time. A good graduate EVP speaks to the unique questions your grads might have, like:

  • How will I grow my career? 
  • What if I don’t like this career path – could I move internally?
  • What does success look like? 
  • What if I struggle – what training and support is there
  • How will I form work friendships? 
  • What are the ESG creds of this organisation? 
  • What wellness benefits are on offer?
  • What my work/life balance look like? 

In particular, flexibility and balance are often priorities for grads. For example, one 2022 study found 89% of graduates think work-life balance is important.

The upshot is:

  • A strong EVP is the bedrock of successful graduate recruitment. However urgent hiring is, it’s worth investing the time here first. If you’ve not embarked on this process before, here’s an eight-step guide to get you started.

Make jobs fairs work harder for you

How do you get great grads or early careers talent to apply to your programme? If you’ve done much graduate recruitment before, you’ll know how important jobs and careers fairs are.  

But although fairs can be a fantastic talent source, they’re hardly untapped. You’ll face lots of competition. Your good, clear EVP messaging will help you stand out but what comes next is critical. 

It’s a total waste of time to deliver a WOW first impression if you forget to get back in touch. And if candidates feel spurned, scorned, or neglected, that’s not an experience they’re likely to forget.

Choose recruitment software that makes it simple to pull prospective applicants into talent pools so you can stay in touch.

The upshot is:

  • Building relationships with schools, colleges, and universities makes a heap of sense for graduate and early careers recruitment. But make sure you’re putting those connections to good use after the fact, adding them to your ATS and building talent pools.

Run graduate recruitment campaigns

Recruitment marketing is about taking a step back. Moving away from reactive firefighting towards proactive attracting. Graduate recruitment lends itself especially well to proactive campaigns, because you’ve already got a clearly defined audience and message. 

Your recruitment software should make it easy to create, manage, and track different recruitment campaigns. This is the fun, creative bit – it should feel like it! (For example, our clients often tell us how much they love the no-code landing page builder in Tribepad Core ATS + CRM 🤩). 

Think about using campaigns both to attract and nurture your early careers talent, using landing pages, email, and SMS. Become a well-oiled graduate recruitment machine. 

The upshot is:

  • You’ve already done the hard work by developing your graduate EVP. You know what graduates are looking for, and how you serve those needs. A recruitment campaign is the perfect place to take this messaging out into the world. Here’s a step-by-step guide on running a great recruitment campaign.  

Tailor your recruitment journey for graduates

You need to evaluate different candidates in different ways. And different candidates have different expectations from the recruitment process. When it comes to candidate experience, trying to make everyone happy means making nobody happy.

Map your ideal recruitment journey for graduates. Do you use video interviewing? That can be an excellent tool to assess softer skills, which are so vital for early careers entrants. How about your interview process? One round? Three? 

Think about the info you ask for too. It doesn’t make much sense to ask grads for their career history, given they usually haven’t had any. Asking unnecessary questions adds friction and pushes your completion rates down.

And what about onboarding? Graduates are entering the workplace for the first time; situations we all take for granted might seem totally scary and new. A considered, consistent onboarding process can make the difference between new starters feeling excited and confident or let down and alone. 

Good recruitment software should make it easy to create fast, flexible recruitment and onboarding journeys for all the different roles you hire. It should also be modern and intuitive. Today’s early careers talent is super tech-savvy: they have little tolerance for old school, clunky processes.  

The upshot is:

  • You’ve personalised your EVP to different employee groups. Why wouldn’t you also personalise your recruitment journey? Look for recruitment tech that makes this stuff simple (without waiting for IT or consultants to help). 

Pay extra attention to ED&I

Building a fair, inclusive recruitment process is always important. But the stakes feel especially high for early careers talent. 

A senior manager has tangible career experiences that graduates or early careers hires usually don’t. Assessment is often much more about fit and feel – but that’s an opportunity for unconscious bias to sneak in.

And someone’s first job can set the tone for their career. If we’re unconsciously excluding people, that can have huge knock-on consequences for years to come. 

Some things to think about:

  • Could you anonymise applications, so you don’t see identifying info?
  • Could your job adverts use fairer, more inclusive language?
  • Could your careers site be more accessible?
  • Could you address candidates automatically by their preferred pronouns?
  • Could you better tackle drop-off points for B.A.M.E applications? 

Your processes and recruitment tech should be designed with ED&I front of mind

The upshot is:

  • As recruiters, it’s up to us to give everyone a fair chance at a bright start. Your graduate recruitment programme must be fair and inclusive to be effective. 

Tribepad is the trusted tech ally to smart(er) recruiters everywhere. Our talent acquisition software is a springboard for faster, fairer, better recruitment for everyone. 

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