Two out of three graduates regret accepting job offers as soon as they start in the role, with one in four saying they expect to leave their first employer within a year, according to a new report by member-based advisory company CEB.

Despite an investment of a billion pounds a year in the UK alone, employers say they cannot find the graduate talent they need. Meanwhile graduates are struggling to find the job and the employer that really motivates them. Both are players in a game of roulette.

CEB’s global report today uncovers the extent of the game of chance as both graduates and employers hedge their bets. One-in-five graduates are applying for jobs that do not interest them just to secure their first job, using this to fill their CV while they search for the career they want.

The situation is being exacerbated by the employers too. Recruiters are adopting attraction methods that appeal to the masses just to fulfil application quotas in chase of their notion of ‘top’ graduates, rather than targeting candidates that are a strong fit for their business.

This adds up to massive sunken costs against graduate recruitment programmes with employers paying high upfront premiums to attract graduates and then a downstream premium to replace graduates moving on after 12 to 18 months.

The report raises two key questions: what are employers really looking for in their graduates? And do they understand what makes today’s graduates tick?

Commenting on the findings, Eugene Burke, chief science and analytics officer at CEB, said“Today’s graduate recruitment market is stuck in a vicious circle. Graduates are struggling to wade through generic company messaging to find their way to the right job while businesses are wasting millions chasing high numbers of graduates who leave within the first year. We estimate that in the UK, this amounted to sunk cost of approximately £112 million in 2013.

“Employers need to rethink their approach to graduate recruitment. The first step is to challenge their recruiters to show they are delivering the graduate talent that will drive organisational goals. Just meeting quotas isn’t enough.

“Employers need to break down the silos between recruitment and learning and development functions to maximise their investment in acquiring and developing graduate talent. That’s what today’s graduate want – to understand what opportunities there are to develop and grow, demonstrate the talents they have and progress in the organisation. Many firms simply lack clear intelligence on their graduate talent to know what is going to make them stay and be high-performing employees.

“Organisations and the recruitment industry have a simple choice – carry on with the same old practices that do not work yet expect things to change, or adopt a more intelligent model that will drive a stronger return and build a more effective brand as the graduate employer of choice.

“Continuing with the current game of roulette will just perpetuate a poor return on the investment in graduate recruitment.”

These findings are taken from “Driving New Success Strategies in Graduate Recruitment”. This new report from leading member-based advisory company, CEB explores the global graduate recruitment landscape, challenges the notion of skills shortages, and provides recommendations for how organisations can transform their programmes.