From questions around the Apprenticeship Levy to innovative changes in assessment processes and feeling the effects of a return to a candidate-driven market, it’s been a rather whirlwind year for graduate recruitment. Whether you view the political and economic changes as positive or not, one thing is clear, we need to be as prepared as possible for the future people of our businesses.

Here we consider some statistics and give you top tips to improve your schemes:


27% say their new recruits lack skills like self-management and resilience whilst 40% say they are unhappy with graduates’ levels of business and customer awareness (CBI and Pearson)

This is no huge surprise and has been a challenge in graduate recruitment for a while. However, what is really promising is that according to the latest Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) survey, businesses are tailoring their recruitment processes to identify these skills during the selection stages. In fact, 51% of employers are doing this to find candidates with negotiating and influencing skills and 71%, to find commercially aware candidates. So if we’re finding ways to assess these skills, we can certainly do the same for those other hard-to-recruit skills.

This move highlights the importance of bringing these skills into a business, regardless of the role the candidate is being hired to do. It also shows that even the larger companies (that this survey is conducted upon) struggle to find these skills amongst graduates.

A proactive approach is exactly what is needed and from business simulation exercises to competency-based questions, every company can adapt their assessment process to draw out these skills (or potential for these skills) in candidates.


London significantly outperforms other UK cities in attracting talent from leading UK universities
(Centre for Cities)

It is no great revelation to hear that year-on-year herds of graduates flock to London, enticed by the bright lights, high starting salaries and general buzz of the capital city! But are graduates aware of opportunities that they leave behind? They may not be actually, because organisations can be timid in communicating their excellent opportunities to the world!

Working with many SMEs, we have found that often the smaller, lesser known companies are very apologetic about who they are and what they offer, when in fact, they have tonnes to offer! There are four key things that many SMEs neglect talking about when recruiting young talent: real responsibility, exposure, real contribution and progression. These are proven to be top priorities for graduates and can prove really attractive to driven, ambitious millennials.

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


33% of employees say they’re unlikely to fulfil their career aspirations in their current organisation
(CIPD Employee Outlook Report)

This is quite a staggering statistic and one which can lead to companies losing talented individuals.

Ask yourself the questions: are your managers communicating progression opportunities to their employees? Does the graduate/employee know the journey they need to go on to achieve that next role? Are the timelines realistic or do they need to be flexed a little?

Talking through these questions can be a great starting point for identifying whether your employees career trajectory within your organisation is well-planned, needs more attention or is simply non-existent. Graduates especially are known for their ambition and high expectations of themselves and so a clear progression plan is of real significance to them. This isn’t breaking news to us, but in the position we’re in today, with more candidates than jobs, candidates are going to pick and choose the best package their offered – and ‘best’ may come down to who is offering the clearest route to career success.

I hope this has provided an indication of some of the considerations we need to be making in terms of graduate recruitment and development. As always, we would be delighted to have an informal chat about any of the things discussed here.