“Difficulties in attracting the right talent with the right mix of skills in the right location are on the increase. Not since 2008 has the problem been so pronounced.”
This is according to Stephen Isherwood, Chief Executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR). The message is clear: as the greenest shoots to date, signalling that we’re leaving the recession, appear it is the employers that are painting pictures of perfection to entice skilled university leavers, and not the other way round.
As the AGR revealed the result of its survey of 200 member employers, a very different playing field to the one recruiters had five or six years ago became apparent.
Playing hard to get
Now, if the headlines are anything to go by, our graduates are playing hard to get. Vacancies for graduates are expected to rise by 11.9% – double that of the previous two years – with IT and telecoms, the public sector, construction, and engineering industries expected to have the biggest increases in vacancies.
The talented few you want to attract are more discerning than ever about where their skills are most wanted.
The trend will only continue, says Mr Isherwood. Graduate vacancies are expected to rise year-on-year, and as such employers are taking to recruitment content marketing aimed even at school leavers, such is the demand.
The scramble for jobs brought on by the recession, and the subsequent slump in employee engagement and staff retention as more desirable jobs began to pop up, means also there’s a considerable skills shortage in many sectors. Competition is high between employers to get candidates with the right set of talents. They’re out there – in fact it was reported recently by LinkedIn that many more skilled graduates are sourced from social professional networks (like LinkedIn, obvs, and Glassdoor) than ever before – almost three-quarters more than in the last four years.
Half of the employers surveyed said they had at least one unfilled graduate position in 2014; this would have been practically folklore just a couple of years prior.
Graduates are turning down roles at the eleventh hour in favour of offers of higher pay, better-defined roles, and the kind of company culture that people actually want to wake up on a Monday for.
Show them the money
This is not what you want. Graduate recruitment content – its quality and its allure – needs to say all that and more. It needs to grab your perfect guy or girl by the lapels, telling them to look into your eyes, and only the eyes, and not over there, but here.
It’s a very different playing field to the one recruiters had five or six years ago.
They are looking elsewhere, however, and with tools like Glassdoor now available to compare salaries, culture and everything down to the quality of coffee in the vending machine, there are not many places to hide.
But why would you want to hide? You’ve got the goods, right? Competitive salaries, happy, smiley people assigned their perfect roles, beanbags in places that there should be chairs, machine coffee sustainably sourced from the foothills of the Peruvian Andes.
The AGR’s survey spells out very clearly that now is the right time to start targeting the graduate community with all that kind of stuff, perhaps even going so far as to partner with schools and universities to get that critical ‘in’.
Moreover, if you want to capitalise on the substantial talent pool that’s now brimming, bear in mind that the talented few you want to attract are more discerning than ever about where their skills are most wanted. As a graduate recruiter, it’s incumbent on you to spell that out.