In 2013, the graduate market, like the economy, shows signs of optimism. The Association of Graduate Recruiters’ annual survey is the benchmark by which we and other graduate recruiters take stock of how the graduate recruitment arena is faring. I thought perhaps you might be interested in both the AGR’s findings as well as our feedback from a Discovery Graduates perspective.

Graduate Vacancies

According to the AGR report:

• The AGR predicts a 3.9% decrease in vacancies for the 2012-2013 recruitment season

Our experience:

The numbers are up – we have definitely seen a rise in roles this year both from new and existing clients e.g. Huf recruiting 6 graduates across engineering and head office positions. The new microsite drove an attraction strategy that generated 1200 applications which were processed in 6 weeks


According to the AGR report:

• The median graduate salary is predicted to stay static for 2012-2013 at £26,500
• The sectors attracting the highest salaries are investment banking, law firms and financial services

Our experience:

The average salary as reported in the media is often misleading for both graduates and employers. It is important to consider where the salary sits within your company, industry and job role. We have found the average graduate salary across our clients is £23,500 but we are seeing more companies offering benefits to support relocation or ‘golden hellos’.


According to the AGR report:

• There has been an increase in the average number of applications per vacancy. AGR employers receive on average 85.3 applications per vacancy. This is an increase from 73.2 applications per vacancy in 2011-2012

Our experience:

We have been astounded by the volume of applications that we have received in the last few months. Across three companies we managed 7313 applications through application screening, telephone interviews, aptitude testing, and assessment centres.


I’d like to share with you some interesting statistics on the application process that may encourage you to reflect on or help you benchmark your own process.

Did you know:

• Most recruiters (99%) report recruiting graduates via online applications
• Assessment centres and selection events are popular with 89.3% of employers using them
• Psychometric testing is used by 67.3% of employers
• Half of recruiters report that the application process takes 2 months or less
• 26.5% report that it takes 3 months Development According to the AGR report
• Only 13.5% of AGR members did not offer placement and/or industrial programmes
• The majority (97.5%) of recruiters have formal induction programmes and 89.3% have a graduate development programme
• The majority of employers have a formal graduate induction programme (97.5%)
• 89.3% of AGR recruiters run or intend to run a graduate development scheme
• This is an increase from the 2011-2012 rate of 87.6%
• Most (61.1%) of these programmes lasted between one and two years
• These programmes commonly used on the job training (90.7%), training away from the job (84.2%) and training for professional qualifications (61.7%)
• An average of 175 days were spent undertaking on the job training
• The success of graduates was most frequently measured by retention rates (94%), followed by performance measures (86.7%), and formal feedback by managers and graduates (85.3%) • 78.8% of employers operate rotational placements
• 45.6% of these have 4 rotations, whilst 24% have 3 rotations
• 24.4% of employers report that each rotation takes up to 4 months, whilst 52% of employers report that each placement lasts between 5 and 6 months

Our experience:
Industrial Placements
The trend for industrial placements has increased this year with ABP offering a scholarship bursary and Industrial Placements to raise awareness of the graduate opportunities on campus and we have been pleased to partner with Pernod Ricard who considerably increased their numbers of IPs for 2013/2014.  Samworth Brothers have just signed up for the 4th year for Discovery to deliver a complete end to end campaign with assessment centres this winter.

Graduate Development Programmes
The OPEN Programme for Graduates has seen an increase in numbers with 35 currently going through the programme. Furthermore, many of our clients ask us what to do with their graduates once they have left the programme.

To rotate or not to rotate?
We see companies using both models plus some who cream the best aspects off each to create a hybrid. Whichever path you choose, the design of the programme is crucial to the outcomes and successes. We work with Pernod Ricard who use the ‘direct entry’ model for graduates recruited into sales positions but we’ve also worked with Suttons Group on their fully rotational programme. We are also seeing an increasing number of our clients (including Dawn Meats) operating a blended model of recruiting for a specific position but having a 12 – 18 month rotational programme.


How do you measure up?
It is important to set up KPIs around your graduate recruitment campaign; here are some helpful numbers to put the figures into perspective.
• 52.3% of recruiters have retained 76-99% of the graduates they recruited one year ago, whilst 40.7% of recruiters have retained 100% of the graduates they employed one year ago
• After 3 years retention rates have dropped with 11.4% of members reporting that they have retained all of their graduates and 45.7% of members reporting that they have retained between 76 and 99% of graduates
• Reasons for leaving a graduate job have been listed as personal reasons (54.3%), offer by competitor (50.3%), dissatisfaction with career development (26%) and dissatisfaction with salary/benefits (17.9%)

In conclusion
Every year when the AGR annual report comes out, I make time to stop and think and I would encourage you to do the same. Consider:

What does success look like for your business? What percentage of graduates would you expect to retain after 2 years, what positions should they be in and what value are they delivering to your business whilst they are there?

If you are losing graduates, why is it? Do you recruit the wrong ones? Are the expectations of the graduate and the business misaligned? Are your managers supporting your graduates?

For me, graduate recruitment should not be seen in isolation, it must be reflected in the wider business strategy. I suppose I like to think of graduate recruitment as recruiting the next sales director or future MD – just 15 years early.

‘Til next time – toodle pip!