Rather belatedly this year I’ve got round to reading The Graduate Market 2016 produced by High Fliers. If you want to compare this years report to previous years, I wrote similar pieces in 2015 and 2014. If you have an interest in graduate recruitment it’s well worth a read with the research focus being the Times top 100 graduate employers. I’m not going to summarise the report as the executive summary does a fine job of that already but rather focus on an area that holds interest for me and my role working with higher education students; that of graduate vacancies.
Unfilled vacancies – so what lies beneath? The report notes:
A noticeable rise in the number of graduates turning down or reneging on job offers that they had previously accepted meant that over 1,000 graduate positions were left unfilled last year, reducing the graduate intake at almost a third of the UK’s leading employers.
Reasons given for this included graduates becoming pickier, having increased choice due to a more buoyant job market, last minute changes in targets and harder to fill specialist vacancies.
Missing for me within the rationale is still recruiters over reliance and focus on Russell Group universities. I can understand and appreciate the argument of a limited resource and recruitment and marketing budget but the average number of universities targeted by employers is twenty with six of those probably appearing in most recruiters cross hairs.
It seems strange to me how given the immense talent that exists in all universities some employers – and by no means do I mean all in the top 100 – may do well to rethink their current strategy and engage with a wider field of talent. Now there is open interpretation by what “engage” may actually mean for employers. For some this might be brand ambassadors in target universities and for others it may mean working more closely in curriculum. In fairness employers aren’t ruling out applications from elsewhere subject to entry requirements but we know in a labour market that is congested with competing choices and large numbers of potential applicants diversity won’t just appear by accident.
This led me to read with interest an article in the Telegraph on a new app called Debut which promotes itself as “the world’s first mobile student and graduate careers platform”. The basic premise is that undergraduates download the app and can then play employer sponsored games to get fast tracked to interview.
Now this reminds me of an up to date version of the MI6 recruitment strategy of posing almost unsolvable puzzles in newspaper ads to get an interview with them. I do find this an intriguing approach as part of the marketing blurb on the website talks about trying to “disrupt”the graduate jobs market. With the app being free and easily accessible to download on your device it could certainly have mass market reach. It claims to flip graduate recruitment with the employer approaching the employee – although I’m pretty sure LinkedIn had that function nailed a long time ago. This is all based on the profile the student completes and performance in the employer endorsed games I mentioned earlier. There were 41 employers on board at launch so I’d be interested to see what the take up is like a year down the line – both for employers and students. One side effect of the disruption they talk about may be students playing these games in lectures. We shall see….
At least in my mind part of this strategy seems just like a new tactic in the employers arsenal of trying to attract and select the best applicants. I say arsenal as that appears to be in line with graduate recruiters vocabulary of weaponised lexicon. Let me explain! I’ve heard the term “tag & bag” used to describe an employers attempts to get applicants selected and onboarded to their graduate scheme and “weapons of mass rejection” used to describe applicant tracking systems. It just goes to show that with employability there is no silver bullet – no pun intended.