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Graduate Recruitment Guide: How to recruit graduates in 2022

Digital Assessment
calendarNovember 22, 2021
calendar Claire Rahmatallah
Graduate Recruitment Guide: How to recruit graduates in 2022

Recruiting high-quality entry-level hires, whether they be university graduates, college students, or those on internship programmes, is a key part of ensuring your organisation has future talent in place. In this graduate recruitment guide, we explain how to recruit graduates and early career talent and how to set up a graduate recruitment programme that meets the expectations of young talent and the needs of your business.

Trends in recruiting from colleges and universities

Firstly, planning how to recruit from universities; here are the key trends to be aware of that will enable you to build the right recruitment strategy for early careers talent.

Virtual recruiting and hiring is here to stay

Student recruitment has gone virtual and it’s here to stay. Research by the Institute of Student Employers (ISE) finds that 93% of employers have moved their recruitment process online. This may have been brought about by the pandemic, but virtual graduate recruitment is now business as usual with 48% of employers anticipating that their recruitment process will still be mainly virtual in five years’ time.

Students and early career talent are embracing virtual recruitment

Uni graduates and college students have, in the main, embraced this change. Research by Bright Network shows that 64% of students have attended a virtual careers event in the last year and 70% of students are comfortable with a fully virtual hiring process. However, not all candidates are equally as comfortable in a fully virtual environment (those with declared disability or learning difficulty are 8% less confident taking a fully virtual process than graduates as a whole).

Diversity matters in student recruitment

ISE’s research into the biggest student recruitment trends looks at the commitment employers are making to diversity in hiring. Employers are broadening out their recruitment strategies to include targeted action on diversity strands including ethnicity, socio-economic background, disability, and gender. While 65% of employers have formal targets around diversity and have been actively developing their recruitment processes to make them more inclusive, almost all (99%) felt that they had more to do on diversity over the next five years.

A great recruitment process is critical

When planning how to recruit from universities, it’s also important to know what puts graduates off applying to an employer. 23% of graduates say that a poor or unimpressive experience when meeting representatives from the firm would discourage them and 22% say that a long and complicated application process would deter them from applying. A poll carried out by Prospects supports this, finding that uni graduates and college students are discouraged by long application forms that asked, (what they felt were) unnecessary questions or that require candidates to repeat information already supplied.

How do you attract the best graduates?

Successful student recruitment requires an understanding of what graduates and college students want. So, what does the best talent coming out of colleges and universities look for in an employer? And how can employers respond with a compelling employer brand?

Upskilling is essential to entry level jobs

Research from The Prince’s Trust shows that almost all (97%) of graduates want employers to be actively involved in their career upskilling. In turn, graduates are looking to develop, 70% of early careers candidates expect employers to invest in teaching them digital skills on the job. Bright Network’s research into what graduates want adds to this, finding that 95% of its members want to be upskilled directly by employers, with coding and commercial awareness being the skills they want to work on most. Therefore, development should be a key part of employer branding in graduate recruitment strategies and employers should consider how they can bring in mentorship and training into their graduate development programmes.

A commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion

92% of early careers talent will consider the diversity or inclusivity of an organisation before applying. Almost half (48%) of graduates will actively research a company’s commitment to diversity before applying, with only 8% saying it’s something they don’t consider at all. Organisations that want to attract young talent should be specific in their recruitment marketing about the business’ commitment to diversity and inclusion and how the company culture supports this. A fair, equitable recruitment process is an important statement for companies to make and an opportunity to tangibly move the dial on diversity in a way that can be demonstrated to graduates.

Work life balance and wellbeing

Work life balance, and people and company culture are more important to graduates than pay. When asked, 61% of graduates cited having a good work-life balance as most important, and 39% said having a good salary. Therefore, the ability to convey your organisation’s company culture, values and work-life is critical during the recruitment process. A realistic job preview, especially in a virtual setting, is an effective way to bring your organisation to life.

How to set up a graduate recruitment programme

How to attract graduates to your company

When considering how to attract graduates to your company, there are a number of graduate recruitment strategies you can consider that work in an in-person or virtual environment, or ideally a combination of the two.

Firstly, where do graduates typically hear about opportunities to apply for? An ISE’s survey on student recruitment trends lists the most popular channels as:

· Career websites (87%)

· Social media (48%)

· Career events virtual/ in-person (40%)

In terms of which are most effective from an employer’s point of view:

· Job adverts and job posting on job boards

· Giving talks and workshops

· Careers fairs

· Social media marketing

· Insight/open days

In order to improve graduate recruitment, employers need to have a strong offering via their careers page and must support this through online and in-person recruitment marketing campaigns.

How to select the right assessments for graduate recruitment

Next, given the varied experiences of early careers talent, it’s critical for employers to choose assessments which are based around potential to do well in a role, rather than on past education or work experience.

At Sova, we design blended assessments that combine tests such as ability to learn, personality, behaviour, potential and motivational drivers into one short and engaging assessment.

Here are some elements that can be included in Sova’s offering for early careers talent:

  • Interactive assessment homepages provide an idea of the working environment, the typical working day and colleague interactions. This is also an opportunity for positive employer branding.
  • Themed assessments offer a more engaging way to engage with candidates while assessing for the values, behaviours and skills needed for the role.
  • Realistic job previews Using a combination of video, interactive screens and two-way interview sessions, paint a picture of the role, your organisation and company culture, allowing candidates to decide whether it will be a good match for them.
  • Automated assessment feedback reports help candidates understand their strengths and development areas regardless of whether they are successful in their application. They help to reduce administration and the number of requests for individual feedback too.
  • Digital assessment centres eliminate the paperwork and ease the administrative burden involved in scheduling, organising, running an assessment centre and providing candidate feedback.
  • One unified platform such as Sova’s platform manages all candidate communication, improving candidate experience and reducing drop-out rates. Recruiters don’t need to spend time chasing up candidates or moving them to the next stage of the process.

Create a level playing field

Lastly, making equity and fairness inherent in your graduate recruitment process is more important than ever. Since the pandemic, college students and uni graduates have experienced varying levels of opportunity. Confidence levels have dropped across the student population and those who attended a non-selective state school are more likely to say that they aren’t confident about securing a graduate-level job.

Research by Bright Network found that 85% of graduates have felt under more pressure around careers due to the impact of COVID-19 and that 77% of students feel they have struggled to connect with employers. Only 42% of graduates reported feeling ready for the world of work.

To ensure a bias-free process, Sova recommends using only assessments that are proven to be fair and a good predictor of performance, but that also do not discriminate based on access to certain knowledge or experiences.

How can I improve my graduate recruitment?

A graduate recruitment programme is a key element of your organisation’s talent strategy. An effective recruitment strategy for entry-level hires will ensure your business has the talent it needs to take it into the future. Offering early careers talent a fair, engaging, digital assessment experience is where Sova can help using our graduate recruitment software.


Graduate Recruitment Guide: How to recruit graduates in 2022