SNP hit out at Labour over council redundanciesSHL, a global leader in talent management, has revealed that while companies are reconsidering their approach to recruitment, a 2:1 from a Russell Group university is still the golden ticket for the top jobs.

71% of companies have started, or expect, to consider school leavers for graduate roles

71% of companies SHL recently polled said that they had started, or expect, to consider school leavers for graduate roles. This is encouraging news for those students put off going to university by the fees hike. What is also encouraging is the fact that 64% of companies would be prepared to help graduates with loan payback to attract the best talent. This is no doubt a good move, as money is certainly important to graduates – 29% of graduates said salary was the most important factor they consider when applying for a role.

Despite the fact companies are now more open to recruiting school leavers for graduate roles and 43% rate work experience as the most important attribute to look for when sifting through application forms, a degree is still valuable, and where you took that degree and what grade you got, even more so. Over half (51%) still favour graduates from the Russell Group and 70% said it is either imperative or important that a candidate has a 2:1 or above to fill a graduate role. Interestingly, only 34% of recruiters actually check university records.

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Whatever a company values in terms of its recruits, it must be able to spot talent from a burgeoning amount of applications. Nearly a third (29%) of companies receive more than 250 applications for each graduate role advertised. When sifting through those applications, half of recruiters only spend one-to-two minutes reading an application form. The company should also consider how they retain the talent they choose – less than half of companies have a specific intake programme for non-graduates or school leavers.

Sean Howard, Vice President Solutions, SHL says “On the one hand we’re seeing companies consider school leavers for graduate roles, yet a 2:1 from a Russell Group university is still a golden ticket to the top jobs.”

He continues “Rather than just favouring Russell Group graduates with a 2:1 companies should ensure they have a more thorough approach to recruitment. That means considering candidates’ attributes beyond qualifications. A 2:1 doesn’t guarantee a motivated candidate who will stay with your organisation. A dedicated A Level student who can demonstrate the core competencies and potential you need, could be a better option, for example. Once you have chosen the candidate, ensure you have the right processes in place to nurture and retain that talent.”