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Graduate recruitment trends

What will recent trends and changes in the recruitment industry mean for students and careers services?

05 / 03 / 2019Fiona Doherty

It’s becoming ever challenging for careers services to prepare their students for the graduate jobs market.

Hannah Harrison, Director of GTI’s Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) business gives us her predictions about the future of the recruitment industry and what this means for students and careers services.


There is no doubt that technology has taken over all elements of our life whether it’s smartphones, building cars or virtual assistants and the recruitment industry is exactly the same. So many companies now are looking at ways to automate large parts of their recruitment processes and have designed sophisticated tools and tests to quickly assess candidates and either reject them or automatically move them to the next stage of the process. Gone are the days of long application forms and traditional numerical and verbal reasoning tests as standard. Some organisations are even using artificial intelligence to screen video interviews. As a result, a candidate could in theory get from application through to assessment centre without ever speaking to a human being.

This sudden acceleration in technology is making the job of a careers advisor much more difficult. On one side they are having to “prepare” students for an assessment process which could include an online immersive assessment and video based job simulator, whilst also still helping them to perform in a more ‘traditional’ process consisting of online numerical test, telephone interview and assessment centre.   

University career services play a critical part in supporting candidates through this journey and we as recruiters need to make sure that the right information and support is available for both candidates and careers services to demystify the tools we are using.

Talent attraction and sourcing

The ways that we find talent is also changing. Over the past decade we have seen a gradual erosion of graduate recruitment budgets with an ever-increasing focus on reducing and further reducing cost per hire. As a result many companies are no longer investing in any kind of branding activity, attendance at general careers fairs is dwindling and the days of campus presentations are numbered. One careers service I spoke to said that many companies only seem to be interested in how they target their engineering students or their BAME network.

And yet, as the market evolves and opportunities become more complex companies will need to think differently about the way they source candidates. We cannot rely on candidates to know what roles will be right for them, nor can we be confident that the right students will find their desired employer, particularly as the war for talent becomes increasingly competitive. At some point company’s attraction strategies will need to shift back to be about attracting candidates to a company brand and then using profiling tools to assist candidates once they’re in the process to match them to opportunities. The advancement of technology will play a pivotal role in this but more investment in talent attraction will also be required. 

The Candidate as Consumer

With the cost of University continuing to increase, companies will also need to shift their focus to see the candidate as a consumer in their process. Candidates will increasingly de-select themselves from processes that are too long, too impersonal or not engaging enough.

Recruitment must be a two-way process with engagement interventions needed not just at the attraction stage but throughout the recruitment experience. Delivering this alongside a technologically driven process is one of the key challenges facing recruiters at the moment – how do we make a digital process “warm”? how do we ensure a positive candidate experience? How do we, like consumer brands, use data about candidate behaviour pre-application, and analytics on the candidate’s digital journey pre-application, to drive a better user journey?

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