By Sarah Evans

Following my last blog post about what SME’s can do to attract graduate talent locally, I’ve been thinking about what organisations can do to make their positions ‘socially attractive’. Fresh from the vibrant social scene that comes with being a student, job hunting graduates are interested in not just what you can offer them professionally, but how you can get them involved in the local community.

Here a few of my ideas, and initiatives that I have come across, of how companies could go about this:

CSR projects offer a great opportunity for graduates to get involved with the community and the more connections they make with the local community, the more likely they are to stick around. Does your business have anything in place? Perhaps start by organising a charity event – taking on a challenge for charity is highly rewarding and builds great relationships. Fundraising is fun and encourages creativity, training brings out people’s determination and ability to encourage and support – all key components in the ‘bonding’ process.

What we ideally need to accomplish, is to create a support network that matches that which students have at university. Replicating the student opportunities for socialising and networking in the workplace would be highly valuable. I’m not saying organise trips to the pub every evening! Just go back to the basics: provide a guide on the area, the best place to get tapas, watch a film or go for a swim. Point them in the direction of local leisure facilities, rugby clubs or theatres. Having this basic information readily available is invaluable to a new arrival.

Birmingham Future is one regional organisation who is doing great things for young professionals in the city of Birmingham. It offers numerous opportunities to build personal and professional profiles through free corporate and networking events, mentoring schemes and awards.  The social and culture committee organise regular events bringing Birmingham’s excellent cultural offering to members. Why not encourage your graduates to become a part of these initiatives? And tell them about these kinds of opportunities at the final assessment stage. If just one graduate is joining a workforce where the majority of employees are more senior, engaging that graduate can be a challenge and this is a solution that works.

Another fantastic initiative that I have come across recently involves several start-ups at a Science Business Park in Cambridge. The businesses typically employ one or two graduates a year and all of the candidates from the varying businesses are enrolled on to a programme. This collaborative, cross discipline approach to graduate development is a real magnet for graduates and an excellent way to build a close, professional community. Could you recreate this idea with businesses in your area?

It’s about making job hunters aware of these benefits early on too – not just detailing the fantastic benefits of staying local when you compile your job adverts, but ensuring students are introduced to these benefits before the job hunt begins, so that they actively influence job searching decisions.

I hope I’ve inspired you to introduce one or two of these things into your graduate strategy. If you already have something in place, I’d love to hear about it. What innovative projects have you come across in the workplace?