According to recent research by High Fliers, more than one in four graduates (26%) will walk straight into a job after graduating this year – the highest level in 14 years.

It has also been found that nearly half of this year’s graduates started their job search during their first year at university. This is the highest figure ever recorded.

Interestingly, the Class of 2015 are the first graduating class to have paid increased tuition fees and on average, owe 50% more in terms of student loans than the previous classes.

As a result, one in 50 estimate that they will be leaving university with a debt of more than £50,000.

The figures suggest that, having made more investment in their university education, graduates are more eager than ever to enter straight into the world of work and start earning money as quickly as possible.

Only 9% are leaving university with ‘no definite plans’ – the lowest figure ever recorded.

These statistics are very encouraging and it is refreshing to hear that career conversations are being stimulated earlier and earlier in education. As a graduate employer however, this raises a number of questions that need to be tackled head on. With evidence showing that students are researching their career options earlier, we, as graduate employers, need to be interacting with students well before they graduate. And when it comes to their final year, we need to be slick and fast acting to ensure the best talent does not get snapped up by competitors.

So what do you need to do to secure great graduates for your business?

Here are a few Discovery tips:

  1. Move quickly to make offers – graduates are being more proactive and are keen to accept offers quickly. Keep them waiting and you risk somebody else snapping them up.
  1. Have clarity in your offering – for example, will you need your graduate to relocate at any point during the next year or so? Be clear on what the immediate plans are for the graduates and how you will support them – graduates are often anxious that they cannot ‘afford’ to relocate, so reassuring them is a must.
  1. Make sure you are competitive – in terms of training, development and salary. This is not to say you have to offer the highest salary, just ensure it is reflective of the market you are in. Think about other benefits that make you stand out e.g. discounted travel cards, staff shop discounts, recreation rooms, mentoring schemes, professional accreditation for training courses.
  1. Understand graduates motivations – ask your current graduates what attracted them to you. It might not be what you assume! For truly honest answers, conduct an anonymous survey.
  1. Internships, placements, work experience & insight days – record numbers of 2015’s graduates had done internships or work placements during their university degree. Students are keen to get their foot in the door and so there is no doubt that if you offer placements, you will get applications and you will fill the positions! Internships and placements give you a chance to ‘trial’ a student, providing you with a pool of graduates to choose from when it comes to your graduate intake. What’s more, these students are already knowledgeable about how your company operates and you know if they are right for your company.