- Graduate Jobs
- Job Advice
- Industry Profiles
- Featured Employers
Here are a number of question and answers, which we hope will help you resolve any questions you may have.
"A graduate employee has just left us. His contract requires him to give us one month's notice, but he insisted on leaving after only one week because his next employer was not prepared to wait. What can we do?" - Manager, publishing firm, Essex
"A graduate with only one arm has applied for our vacancy for in our office. We are concerned that she will not be able to operate the computer keyboard efficiently or quickly enough and will have difficulty carrying the boxes of files we have to move around each month. Can we refuse her the job on these grounds?" - HR Administrator, events production company, London
"Could you provide me with a general overview of today's graduate recruitment marketplace? We used to solely visit universities to recruit our trainees, however this was several years ago. Our graduate recruitment plans were shelved due to the economic climate but we're considering hiring them again." - Recruitment Manager, IT consultants, London
"I work for an SME that hires three graduates a year in two business units; one in finance the other two in marketing. Each year my budget seems to get smaller and I have increasing difficulty attracting the right sort of applicants using our traditional methods - could you give me any advice on how to use my marketing budget more effectively?" - HR Manager, manufacturing company, Newcastle
"I've heard that graduates switch jobs fairly frequently in their first years of employment. Is there any way that our company can improve retention or should we just accept that they will only be with us for a short time?" - HR Advisor, pharmaceutical manufacturer, Teeside
"Our company has used various agencies to supply them with graduate trainees for some time. I personally have had both good and bad dealings. Some supply graduates with the opinion of bums on seats and others quite genuinely offer a good supply and service. How do I seriously know we are getting the correct graduate? What measures have you used with your clients to ensure that they get the best fit for each job they recruit for?"
HR Co-ordinator, media publishing group, London
The employee is in breach of contract. You are therefore entitled to sue and would win your case. However courts assume that you can mitigate your loss by recruiting a replacement and are therefore likely to award no or very little compensation. Taking into account also your legal costs, there is no point in taking any legal action. This is unfair, obviously, but there it is.
No. The candidate is certainly protected by the Disability Discrimination Act which means that you should take all reasonable steps to adjust the working environment to enable her to do the job.
Either get someone else to move the heavy boxes, arrange for hers to be made lighter or provide her with some form of trolley. As to the keyboard, you should discuss your concerns with the applicant herself. She may be able to type just as fast, or even faster, than someone with two arms.
Disabled graduates often more than compensate for their disability and thus make excellent employees.
Here are some things you can do to enhance the effectiveness of interviews:
Some areas that can be probed using open-ended questions:
How an interview is closed can impact a candidate's subsequent decision. So ensure that at the end of the interview the candidate feels that he/she has had an adequate opportunity to demonstrate suitability for the job and has had the opportunity to find out what he/she needs to know about the job.
Finally, take time to explain the next steps in the recruitment process; dates when the candidate can expect to have an indication of whether the company wishes to take things further and likely dates for the next round of interviews or expected starting date.
One final point is to take a look at how to get ready for an interview, from a candidate's perspective.
Thank you for your enquiry. I will try and be as brief as possible as a lot has happened in a short space of time.
Expectations of students have changed and today's recruitment process seems to be a never-ending event. Every methodology and technology is employed to target the latest generation of students. With tuition fees forcing many to take on term-time jobs, on top of the pressure of academic assignments they have little time to devote to endless job interviews, and many have no plans to go straight to work as soon as they graduate. More and more students intend to go travelling, suggesting that when they do finally start work they could have accumulated sizeable debts.
With graduates delaying their entry into the job market and because of their more sophisticated approach to employment, many businesses are using multiple cut-off dates and recruiting the whole year round to increase their chances of attracting the right candidates.
The Government's emphasis on higher education also means that there are more graduates. Not surprisingly, competition for jobs has become fiercer. However, many students just want to focus on revision for exams rather than attending interviews nationwide. Nowadays many students believe that it is more important to get a 2:1 than a firm offer of employment. This is supported by various research and surveys that suggest around 35-40% of students do no job-hunting at all prior to graduation.
As the battle to adapt recruitment to the demands of the graduate market continues, business is looking at every method possible. Some recruiters are using text messaging to contact targeted individuals with vacancies. Other companies now only source candidates directly from the Internet highlighting the uptake of online recruitment in the past two years.
As well as using their own Internet sites, many organisations - public and private alike - are also employing online recruitment agencies. We have a database of over 250,000 graduates and undergraduates and companies come to us to match job specs against our database. This represents a shift from the more traditional method of search and selection but it is a service we can provide. Companies ranging from blue chips to small businesses that want one or two graduates per year use our online service and e-marketing campaigns. In this respect, the Internet is a great leveller, giving small firms access to the same graduate pools as multinationals.
As well as having to use more sophisticated recruitment methods, employers are faced with students who have expectations of their first placements that go beyond a good salary. They are also concerned about getting a work/life balance right - even if it is long before their first pay cheque arrives.
Today's graduates are very sophisticated and savvy - the financial rewards may not be enough to tempt them to a particular employer. Graduates are looking to build a relationship with a employer and want to contribute to a company's success. Therefore they will do a lot of background research on your company to make sure you have right approach for them and are not making any false guarantees.
Many companies have undergone something of a change in the way they view graduate attrition. Whereas many businesses used to recruit huge volumes of graduates, train them then watch a large proportion of leave once qualified, most are far more discerning in the present economic climate. If companies are spending money on training graduates to become the future leaders and decision makers of the organisations then they won't want to lose them at an early stage. Thus, many businesses are looking at more creative ways to select their trainees and move them around the business to sustain their interest. Employers are out to establish relationships early and to guard their investment in talent.
One of the key factors we've found from our on campus research is that students don't believe spin and marketing and would avoid campaigns that are gimmick led. Many don't believe what is written in a brochure. They are more concerned with worrying about tuition fees and combining part-time work and study and so have less time to apply. Most want to be given the opportunity to find out firsthand what is like to work for an organisation from graduates that are already there. For them, this information has more credibility.
The lesson to be learned by today's graduate recruiters is to use a mixture of old and new recruitment methods. Although online tests and Internet enabled recruitment techniques are powerful tools for selecting the right candidates, they are no substitute for meeting someone face to face. If a company relies too heavily on remote technologies and impersonal methods too extensively they many miss out on good people simply because they don't fit the pattern of Internet recruitment. The old milk round may still have a use. If employers are willing to adjust to the demands of graduates who are looking for something beyond a good salary, and if they too are geared up to both using technology and gaining visibility on campus, both students and business will surely benefit.
Should you have any further questions please contact us on 01273 325775.
This is important information that you should always attempt obtain from any job site that approaches you offering this type of recruitment solution. It is good practice that an accredited body independently audits the sites that you choose to use, for example ABC Electronic are regarded as the foremost organisation in this field. Some sites only quote their internal figures and this isn't what you need to make a decision.
You need to understand the terminology that sites use when they publicise data. 'Hits' is data that cannot be used to represent traffic on a particular website. Page impression/page views are more important data but they are also worth far more when they are combined with other metrics such as unique visits/users (this is the number of different people visiting a site over a specified period of time).
Certain questions that you need to get answered to make a decision are:
Statistics are available for our website. Please contact us on 01273 325775 for further information.
It is desirable, as a general rule, to offer jobs only on condition that satisfactory references are obtained in respect of the application. In this way, if the references obtained prove to be unsatisfactory, the offer of employment can be withdrawn without the employer being in breach of contract.
Although nobody can be required to provide references, referees are under legal obligation to use due care when compiling references to ensure that they are based on accurate information. The duty of care is owed not only to the person requesting the reference but also to the employer or former employee in question. If either party suffers as a result of negligent misstatement, an action for damages may be brought against the referee.
It should be noted that all forms promise referees that the information they provide will be treated as confidential. This implies that the job applicant does not have the right to be given a copy of the references, even in cases where they are unsatisfactory and lead to the job offer being withdrawn (subject to the requirements of the Data Protection Act as regards subject access).
Certain employments are exempted from the provision of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and in these cases it is permissible for employers to point this out and request information on the 'spent' convictions of applicants
Verbal vs Written references
When holding an open day in order to encourage prospective graduate employees to come along, here are some points to consider that will help to ensure the day is as profitable as possible.
The open day
At the venue, there needs to be good signage, using company styling, to guide attendees in. This will not only provide navigation for those arriving at the venue, but will also reinforce your company's corporate identity with the candidate.
On the reception desk, it is useful to have a company employee who is a recent graduate trainee. This allows attendees to chat informally and find out the pros and cons of the job first hand from a graduate.
Ensure that you have information packs available to the attendees. This will provide them with information, and also give them something to occupy themselves whilst they are waiting to talk to someone. Freebies (pens, post-it notes, key rings, mouse mats, bottle openers etc are things that employers have used in the past) may also be a good idea. Students may also expect refreshments and this can be a good strategy to get them to stay and talk, i.e. sustaining interest over a coffee.
The venue itself should be so designed that the effect on the attendee is that they feel they are actually walking into that company, not merely a venue where the company is recruiting. Large posters, displays of company literature, and also evidence of the company's line of business should be displayed.
The venue should also be as relaxed as possible. Music and video displays can help this. The aim should be that attending the open day is a pleasurable experience for the attendee, one that gives him or her a favourable impression of the company.
Moving the candidate onto the next stage, be that a secondary interview, or a trial, should be done as soon as possible, if not actually on the day itself. Also having a questionnaire which attendees can fill in on the day regarding ease of location, presentation and so forth will help to give you some feedback to debrief your team on the effectiveness of the day.
For many businesses, recruitment marketing can be a major headache. On one hand, it is needed to build candidate awareness and boost applications but on the other, it can cost a lot of money - something that most small firms have only in short supply.
There are many business owners and managers who wrongly think that marketing is just another word for advertising and that anybody can do it. Nothing could be further from the truth. However, sound marketing is essential if a small business is going to succeed in recruitment. We would recommend the following areas:
1. Go back to basics - think about what you actually want to achieve and define your recruitment objectives clearly. Make sure you target the right graduates in the right way to maximise results. It is imperative to focus on your current graduates and really assess their needs in order to ensure that your roles and training satisfies their requirements.
2. Get listed - consider placing your business in a graduate directory. It may seem obvious, but with a one-off payment each year you can target any graduate who is directly looking for experience that you can offer. Be clever about what you say about yourself, however. Look at existing listings to see what is effective and eye-catching.
3. DIY PR - PR is a great way of getting free publicity. Just because you can't afford a full service PR agency doesn't mean you have to avoid it altogether. Write your own press releases in the manner of a news story and send it to a local student papers or careers service, whose contact details can often be found on their university websites.
4. Be creative - creative services do not have to cost a fortune. We specialise in working with small businesses and there are plenty of agencies that can be found in directories such as Yellow Pages and they are often more flexible, as well as being cheaper, than larger agencies. Don't forget that many graduate publications will help you create the advert you place with them. Simply supply them with a logo and the wording you have drafted and they will often design it for you at no extra cost.
5. Improve your website - constructing a website can cost as little as a few hundred pounds but is a vital marketing tool. Graduates now expect to see a website as much as they do a brochure, so if you don't have one, get one! However, a bad or out of date website is as bad as none at all, as it leaves your potential candidates confused and frustrated.
6. Keep in touch - Students who respond to your company speculatively regarding work experience enquiries or future graduate opportunities should be kept informed. Emails are a very effective way of reminding students of your presence, as well as giving you the chance to promote or impart news about the company. However, be aware of recent changes to 'spamming' laws and only contact those by email who have specifically given you permission.
7. Encourage word of mouth - offer your existing employees incentives to recommend you to graduates they know. Send out a some literature to local university careers services, making it as easy as possible for students to become aware of your company. Including testimonials from existing graduate employees on your website and recruitment literature will also improve the way new students view you.
8. Try something new - the Internet is a fantastic resource for marketing, but due to its size you have to make your business stand out. Try using a pay-per-click service on a search engine. Each click can cost as little as a few pence, but targets those looking specifically for what you have to offer, making a negligible cost really worthwhile.
9. Show off - careers fairs not only provide a place to meet students and careers advisors face to face, but you can also check out the competition. Looking at what works and what doesn't for others can help you avoid making expensive mistakes yourself.
10. Learn from your past - try to analyse which marketing tools were effective and which were unsuccessful and ask yourself why, in order to refine and improve next year's marketing strategy.
With an increasing number of recruitment marketing mediums available creating a comprehensive but cost-effective strategy can be difficult. However, marketing is vital for companies wanting to boost their brand profile and improve their market position. The opportunity to reassess and re-evaluate the basic objectives of a company's recruitment marketing should not be ignored, as complacency will only result in lost applications. You don't have to spend a fortune, but it could cost your business far more by avoiding recruitment marketing altogether.
The AGR reports that organisations are fortunate if they retain even half their graduates after five years. However, more recent research from the Institute of Employment Studies (IES) seems to be suggesting an improvement, with 86% of graduates staying for three years, and one-third of organisations publicising a 100% retention rate.
Research shows that graduate retention is lower in organisations that put graduates in generalist roles, rather than linking development to some form of professional development. 90% of the firms in the IES study use training and development as main way of keeping graduates within their organisations.
Graduates mainly leave due to unhappiness with the job they are doing or the employer they are working for. Factors such as salary, lack of work/life balance and the perception of better jobs elsewhere are also important. Additionally the relationship between the trainee and the manager is extremely important as this will normally have an effect on a graduate's development and subsequent performance.
Some graduates will always leave a role earlier than intended. To make sure that you are not wasting your money and time you need to have some form of system in place that identifies their intention to leave at an early stage.
One suggestion is for your trainees to complete a questionnaire at regular intervals during their training and development. Using a specifically designed questionnaire you can identify key factors that can be measured, and used to predict intention to leave. The factors include:
This system allows you to check whether your trainees feel that you as an employer are keeping to the promises you made when you first hired them, and in consequence if expectations are being managed appropriately. Regular assessment of this issue can detect those that are likely to leave, and so gives you the opportunity to do something about it.
I hope you find the following tips of some help:
You need to build up relationships with those agencies that provide you with decent graduates and steer clear of the agencies who put forward unsuitable candidates.
You should have a clear job description, person specification and advert that the agency can use. The job description/person specification should include the exact qualifications, key skills, abilities, knowledge and any relevant or previous experience and this is what you should concentrate on. You should have a robust recruitment procedure so that any graduates that are referred onto to you go through a structured interview process with ability testing and trained managers conducting the interviews to avoid discrimination.
Successful candidates should be able to clearly demonstrate that they can do the job according to the job description and person specification. There is no guarantee however that this will be the case which is why you need a robust probation procedure. Keep written records on the interviews for up to 6 months to give feedback to unsuccessful candidates.
You should manage your probation period well with clear performance standards that need to be attained with regular meetings that are recorded in writing of how the employee is doing and if not performing correctly what measures you have taken to address this - ie extra training and support.
Then if things don't work out, you can say you have done everything to ensure your recruitment process is successful.
A first class degree is a good indicator that graduates are academic, although doesn't necessarily mean they can do the job well. Perhaps a better approach is to talk to managers who worked with successful graduate trainees and what qualities they processed. Example characteristics include decision making, team working and good communicator. You could then ask future applicants to write a cover letter explaining how they meet these skills in practice.
The second stage is to ask six to eight candidates along to an assessment centre per vacancy and get them to demonstrate their skills as opposed to describing them. For example if previous successful graduate trainees were good team players, incorporate a team exercise into the assessment centre.