Graduate Recruitment Trends

Graduate Recruitment = Keyboard with a key saying graduates wantedGraduate Recruitment trends in the country show an upward movement in the past year. However, graduate recruitment is getting more difficult for organisations.  Employers need to identify those graduates who can and will make an impact in their business.  Why is this?  Read on to see if your graduate recruitment strategy needs to change.

The increase in graduate recruitment is partly due to organisations preparing for Brexit.  A lot of graduates are young and therefore, flexible where they work.   In addition, the global economy showed signs of expansion and Asian markets performed well.  UK graduate recruitment picked up momentum in 2018 after a lull in 2017.

Every year approximately 300,000 graduates join the workforce. These are eager to learn students who may or may not have prior work experience. The hiring process and cost of recruitment for graduate students is of course different from that of candidates with experience.

Hiring companies make presentations at colleges, advertise job openings in universities, and publicize their jobs on social media.  Importantly, they  increase their visibility to attract graduates. In the UK it is expected that students apply directly to the organization they want to work with. This process gives candidates the freedom to find a job they think will best suit them. (

Graduate Recruitment – What the statistics show

The United Kingdom had the lowest graduate unemployment rate  in 30 years at 5.3%, for the 2017-2018 period.  The Ireland graduate labour market reflects the trends similar of the UK market. Of course, the 2008 economic recession in Ireland greatly impacted on graduates.  However, graduate recruitment is back to pre-recession figures.  The graduate unemployment rate in Ireland was recorded at 6%; the lowest in 10 years.  UK and Ireland graduate job markets are functioning well and hiring activity is picking up pace to meet the level of economic output. (

Graduates Choose to Continue Their Studies

Graduate Recruitment - Young female graduate being interviewed by a man in a suitWithout doubt hiring activity is picking up and unemployment rates are decreasing.  One reason behind this is that students opt for a second degree rather than joining the job market.   Why do they do this?  Well, students are becoming increasingly ‘picky’ about the work they want to do.  They want to achieve their goals.  Therefore, they are opting for further education to strengthen their prospects. This is putting employers in a fix.  Employers have an expanding job market with a shrinking graduate pool to choose from.

In 2010 13% of graduates would change their jobs within a year of joining their employer.  Currently, the number stands at 20%. These numbers clearly show that employers are fighting for the best talent and the graduate recruitment job market is becoming highly competitive.



Graduate Recruitment in New Job Sectors

Another reason for the rise in the graduate recruitment activity is the opening of entirely new job sectors. Today, there are jobs in the market which did not exist 10 years ago.  As a result, there aren’t many experienced people available in certain sectors.

Did you know that one of the highest paid jobs today is that of a data scientist or data analyst?  Data sciences as a field hardly existed a decade ago.  Today it is booming.   Companies’ in order to fill positions in such upcoming fields are hiring graduates who either have this domain knowledge or are adaptable to learning.

Technological advancements are being made in all fields.  The pace of change is rapid.  Clearly, organizations are having a tough time finding the right person for the job.  Knowledge and skill gaps are often observed with newly qualified graduates.  This creates a recruitment challenge for both employers and potential new graduates.

Firstly, employers are facing a shortage of talent in areas like sciences, engineering, technology, management, finance and nursing.   Secondly, around a third of managerial or professional vacancies are hard to fill.  Finally, large organizations with 250 +  employees are facing difficulties in filling their vacancies, e.g., graduate engineers, HR graduates and even for civil service graduate jobs.  These numbers depict a clear gap in what the graduates have to offer and what the market is seeking.

Graduate Recruitment – What Needs to Change?

Traditionally companies recruited graduates on the basis of their technical skills and talent.  But, with an ever-changing job landscape companies are now shifting to a strength-based recruitment model. Today, employers need a resilient, innovative and motivated workforce.

Their answer to building this type of a workforce is to focus on the following traits.

  1. A candidate’s leadership quality
  2. Ability to work in a team
  3. Motivation levels
  4. Eagerness to learn
  5. Ability to adapt and change

In other words, employers have started focusing on the strengths of graduates rather than just solely their knowledge and skills.  This has led to the formation of multifaceted and cross-sectional teams. When teamed with the above traits and technical knowledge, employers are building a more resilient, innovative and motivated workforce.

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What Graduates Want from Employers

Blogs - Young confident graduateIncreasingly graduates are demanding more of an employer.  Employers, as a result, need to factor into their recruitment strategy some if not all of the following graduate needs.

Pay and Benefits | Coming out of university with considerable debt unsurprisingly graduates want a job with guaranteed earnings.  If benefits such as a pension and medical insurance are available this also helps.

Developing their Career | Graduates want to be involved in the business and to make influential connections

Work Culture | They want to love the culture, were people want to work together and contribute to the company’s values and success.  They need  to interact with leaders who are approachable.

Flexibility | Graduates look for job satisfaction and engagement.  High on the list is flexible working house with working from home when they are not required at work is a bonus.

Making an Impact | Important to graduates is that they want to see the company making a positive impact on social issues either locally or nationally.

Don’t think that this is quite true!  Well in Investment Banking in 2018 the Financial Times reported the following statistics:

Deutsche Bank attracted over 110,000 student applications for its UK graduate scheme in 2018.

Citi drew over 60,000 applications, up 12% year-on-year, for 520 jobs.

Morgan Stanley also attracted 100,000 applications for just 1,000 summer analyst placements.

These high volumes of applications are attributed to the banks promoting work-life balance careers.  Above all, organisations need to keep ahead of the trends and monitor constantly the changing graduate recruitment environment.

Graduate Recruitment – Looking Ahead

To sum up, the UK graduate recruitment market is expected to expand by 11% in the coming year.  Therefore, many opportunities will exist for graduates.   There are advantages and disadvantages in recruiting graduates, because of their range of technical skills.  However, employers also need to focus on those ‘softer’ management skills.  Combining these approaches will allow organisations to build a strong, technologically relevant, innovative workforce to grow in this competitive world.

To conclude, businesses cannot grow without the addition of fresh talent.  It will be a wise organization that hires the right talent to propel their growth.  The cost of hiring the wrong graduate is a lot higher than just the hiring costs.

About the Author

Blog - Dominic McCannyDominic McCanny is a Chartered Occupational Psychologist and specialises in the area of graduate recruitment.  For an informal discussion around your next graduate recruitment competition call him.

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