With skills shortages being feared by over 50% of the UK’s employers, some would argue that the future for businesses is looking bleak and talentless (CBI). But with record numbers of graduates leaving university with top class degrees, the future looks positively thriving to me (Higher Education Statistics Agency).

Graduate talent is a truly exceptional source of talent and one which, in my opinion, can help prevent these looming skills shortages from ever becoming a reality. Of course, I’m not saying that hiring a graduate will solve all of your challenges. It is in fact the way you execute your graduate plan that will determine the extent to which your concerns are appeased.

Recruiting graduates is not just about hiring for an immediate need, for example ‘I need to improve sales; therefore I will recruit a Graduate Sales Executive. Job done.’

It’s about planning for the future and playing the long game. The question we always ask employers is, where do you want this graduate to be in three or five years’ time? Are they going to be your next Sales Manager? Your next Sales Director? Do you want them to grow a new team? Pinpointing exactly the pathway you envision a graduate taking in your business is invaluable. Firstly, it ensures that you recruit an individual who has real potential to succeed and secondly, it provides the graduate with a clear picture of how they could progress within the business. A top priority for job hunting graduates is to have clear progression path paved out in front of them.

Considering these questions enables businesses to map out the skills required for the ‘projected’, 3-5 years’ time role. It is then a case of identifying similar skills, or indications of these skills, in the graduates that apply. We of course have to expect that some of these skills will not be fully realised yet, but if you can spot the potential now, you’re halfway to success already.

Training and development will always be on hand to encourage further learning and retention. Another top priority for graduates today is to be enrolled on a development programme, alongside their job. Graduates know they are not the finished product and will therefore jump at the chance to be developed and stretched, enabling them to reach both their own goals, as well as your business goals.

Good graduate recruitment is a strategic decision and one that should be well thought through.

We always play the long game, with the knowledge and experience that graduate recruitment takes a solid approach to get it right. Successful graduate recruitment is far more than just securing the appropriate number of hires and making sure they all turn up on day one! An incomplete approach causes disengagement and high attrition, whereas a holistic approach results in great retention and having the right people, in the right roles, at the right time.

I know which outcome I would prefer!