Emma Davidson: 4 ways to create a successful graduate scheme

How can we be mindful of our recruitment processes to invest wisely and give people the experience they need? Emma Davidson from Express Vending discusses the 4 ways to create a successful graduate scheme.

More young people are attending university than ever before and it’s clear UK companies are realising the benefits of this, increasing available graduate roles by nearly five percent in 2017.

Graduate schemes bring new blood, fresh ideas and an influx of potential leaders into the workforce. However, competition to attract the best top talent has intensified over the years.

So, how can you create a successful and widely recognised graduate programme which attracts the top talent?

Be mindful of recruitment processes

Many companies still face challenges increasing workforce diversity, but it is imperative to create a varied workforce. Even two employees with similar skills and personalities won’t necessarily react or respond in the same way, but both can add unique viewpoints to workplace discussions.

Better use of data-driven and analytical decision-making tools could help alleviate some of the issues surrounding diverse hiring. For example; as companies strive to streamline the recruitment process and remove unconscious bias, technology such as AI candidate screening can match potential candidates to jobs, based solely on their relevant skills, at the early stages of graduate selection.

Make sure you don’t just rely on old job descriptions, as this will hinder future development. You need to explore what skills, education and experience the company currently needs, not the requirements you had five years ago.

Target your job offering

It doesn’t take much to tailor job descriptions to graduates, but it can make a huge difference to the number of potential applicants you attract. Make sure descriptions are dynamic, engaging and devoid of industry jargon. 65 percent of millennials use their phone within half an hour of waking up, so ensure vacancies are mobile-friendly too.

Millennials are receptive to brand storytelling over straightforward job adverts. They don’t care if content is branded; they care about whether it speaks to them. You can make job adverts stand out to them through imagery, animated gifs and videos.

Video is extremely powerful and can be effortlessly incorporated into your social media platforms to help extend recruitment reach across different channels.

Text prohibits how far a potential graduate recruit can be brought into your company’s world, but video invites them in and allows them to have a real taste of your brand’s personality and what it would be like to work for your company.

Identify relevant universities and reach out to the head of a faculty to find out which are the best opportunities to promote your company to its students. Perhaps you could offer the use of some of your onsite facilities for student projects or hold informative industry talks to appeal to future graduates?

These activities can help keep you front of mind to students before they start actively seeking jobs, so you won’t be competing with other employers.

Give experience people need

You need to showcase what your graduate scheme offers from the start and plan for your new recruits’ long-term development.

A Deloitte poll on millennial engagement in the workplace revealed 63 percent feel their talent and leadership skills are not being developed as they should be. This is an error which could unwittingly stunt professional growth and cause graduates to move on from your business sooner, rather than later.
A rotational scheme can be an effective way to combat this, which offers new recruits the chance to ‘test run’ different roles. Rotational schemes may seem like a lot of effort to organise, but by allowing graduates to get a feel for different roles, they understand what interests them, where their skills lie and build a lasting bond with your business.

While you want graduates to experience responsibility and creative freedom, you must also give them the direction and encouragement they need to grow. Provide them with a mentor who is separate from their day-to-day manager. This will give them opportunities to discuss worries and identify ways to progress while enabling them to use newly acquired skills in practice.

Invest wisely

Retaining graduates is becoming increasingly difficult with employers typically losing 16 percent of their intake in the first two years.To ensure a good ROI, you need to do your research and find out what will make graduates want to stay for the long-term.

According to Perkbox, 69 percent of 18-24-year-old millennial employees in the U.K. say company perks are crucial to job satisfaction. So, while graduates do look for competitive salaries, many believe being happy at work is about more than money.

Think about offering benefits to appeal to your graduates’ specific needs such as student loan repayment assistance, regular work socials and flexible working which all help cultivate a more positive workplace culture.

Use graduates’ fresh knowledge and skills by flipping the traditional mentor programme. Known as “reverse mentoring”, a senior team member is paired with a junior employee who offers coaching on topics like new digital communication tools and current cultural trends.

Not only does this provide unique insights for senior team members, junior employees can also benefit as they learn about the company’s leadership roles and build relationships with chief staff.

The right graduate will show unparalleled enthusiasm and eagerness to prove themselves and advance their career. With the right support and training, companies can mold new recruits into dedicated and high-performing employees.

Rebecca joined the HRreview editorial team in January 2016. After graduating from the University of Sheffield Hallam in 2013 with a BA in English Literature, Rebecca has spent five years working in print and online journalism in Manchester and London. In the past she has been part of the editorial teams at Sleeper and Dezeen and has founded her own arts collective.