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Tackling the need for speed and rigour in graduate recruitment

Tackling the need for speed and rigour in graduate recruitment

HR teams in Australia and New Zealand have experienced enormous upheaval in the last two years. During this time, achieving a balance between speed to hire and rigour may have been compromised. As travel restrictions are eased and companies step up their recruiting efforts, we discuss how talent teams can create robust graduate recruitment processes that are relevant for today’s challenges.

Fierce competition for graduate hires paired with a lack of candidates characterises the Australia and New Zealand market. As the economy bounces back, what can companies do to attract graduates into the world of work? For this discussion on why speed and rigour are key for graduate recruitment processes, Abigail Scott, Managing Director APAC at Sova Assessment was joined by two graduate recruitment experts from Fusion – Paula Gepp and Sophie Foster

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What’s changed in the Australia and New Zealand markets?

Not only are companies scaling up their existing graduate hiring programs, but more companies than ever are kick starting programs this year. We have seen examples of this in organisations that restructured during the pandemic and used it as an opportunity to evaluate their talent pipeline. Those who have uncovered talent gaps are recognising the value of graduate programs and investing heavily in early careers programs to build a talent pipeline.

More graduate programs can only be a good thing for candidates and for employers. But a scarcity of applications is hampering efforts to engage and onboard graduates in the right numbers. Reneges are commonplace (expected to be 30% higher this year), dropouts are expected, and skills are scarce. Recruiters need to act quickly at each stage of the funnel to secure talent and maintain a rigorous process to onboard the talent the business needs.

Talent challenges for 2022

Following a life-changing two years it’s little wonder that a lot of graduates are choosing to travel now that they can. The knock-on effect is a reduction in the talent pool which is compounded by a lack of new graduates. Students who deferred education during the pandemic are now back at university having waited for in-person learning to be possible again, meaning the pool of available talent is even smaller.

Fusion reports that graduates looking to enter the workforce apply to 10 or 12 programs as opposed to the four or five they did pre-Covid. There is plenty of choice and candidates can afford to be

choosy. The differentiation that companies can offer ranges from being flexible on location, to being aligned on values - and recruiters need to be mindful of these needs in a candidate-scarce market.

All this has taken its toll on gradate recruitment teams. Gone are the days of a cyclical process in line with the academic calendar. A broader talent pool but with fewer candidates means graduate recruitment has become a rolling process and the demands on programme managers is constant. This, plus the squeezed timeframe from attraction to offer that is needed to secure candidates, has put a strain on early talent teams.

How are recruiters overcoming the challenges?

Our panel shared experiences from their client organisations that demonstrate a range of tactics to better attract and engage graduates.

  • Brand alignment. Fusion reports that more companies are investing in their employer brand to differentiate themselves as an employer. Tapping into candidate values is a way to create stickiness to the brand from the outset, and those employees are more likely to be engaged once they start.
  • Re-define graduate talent. Some employers are trialing the inclusion school leavers, TAFE qualified students and current undergraduates in their programs to diversity the talent pool. Now that travel is permitted again, some organisations are also extending eligibility criteria to international students and visa holders which is a boost in terms of numbers.
  • Becoming location-agnostic. Being flexible on location, either via a choice of base or hybrid working, is helping some employers to tap into new talent pools. Previously, the requirement to be in a specific state had restricted the talent pool.
  • Investing in development. Being clear about the development journey and employee experience is an essential part of candidate attraction and a way for brands to differentiate themselves. However, this has been challenging in a remote environment where candidates may even be on-boarded remotely on day one.

How organisations can maintain speed and rigour when competing for talent

Time to hire is critical. The target is now three or four weeks (compared to four to six weeks in the past) so recruiters need to get candidates through the funnel quickly whilst maintaining rigor and accuracy in the process.

Nurturing a strong talent pool through communications is essential from the outset to maintain speed. Beyond the recruitment process, the time lag between offer and day one (which can be up to six months) needs to be comprehensive to increase engagement and reduce reneges. Likewise, time lags need to be minimised. The Fusion team recommends making offers within 24 hours of the assessment centre.

To maintain rigour, recruiters need to revisit the integrity of their process. Rather than removing steps to either speed up the process or keep more candidates in the funnel, design a process where you are only measuring what matters. Blended assessments, that include cognitive and behavioural assessments with a situational judgement test, present a rounded view of candidates in a short timeframe and are better for diversity too.

Lastly, look at all the data you have on a candidate to make a holistic and informed decision. Understand what success in the role looks like and how you can match that using all the data you have.

Speed and rigour in recruitment are not mutually exclusive

By using the right assessment tools, you can create a graduate recruitment process that is engaging, accurate and fast. To learn more about Sova’s blended assessments, digital assessment centres and customised situational judgment tests, talk to our team.

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