HR 18 August 2017

How smaller employers can attract graduates from around the country

Spring graduation time. A black cap/motarboard with gold and white tassel hangs in front of a green chalkboard in classroom. Copyspace. No people. Education themes.
Relocation typically earns a graduate an extra £2,000

Here, CEO of recruitment firm Do You Want a Job?, Darren Diamond, explains how small business owners can look beyond the local talent pool and attract graduates from across the UK.

Earlier this week, a study carried out by the Resolution Foundation revealed that young graduates are increasingly reluctant to move from their home regions, giving up the chance of a potential 11 per cent pay rise by moving jobs and location.

In fact, in 2016 just one per cent of graduates moved region and employer, despite relocating typically leaving an earner £2,000 better off.

The job mobility of graduates is important not just for the individual concerned, but also the economy as a whole. In a time when there are significant skill shortages despite low unemployment rates, ensuring the potential of your business doesn’t go to waste is vital for increasing productivity.

Small businesses are not usually the first port of call for young people who wish to take the first step on their career ladders: it’s the bigger brand names with the larger starting salaries that are often more desirable.

While small businesses don’t have anywhere near the recruitment budgets of larger corporations, there are definite attractions to SMEs that the bigger companies cannot offer, and can help them to pull in talent from different regions.

Smaller businesses can offer talented graduates a far quicker route to a role including responsibility within a firm.

While a grad scheme at a large corporation will essentially be training for the majority of the time, SMEs can get graduates involved in everyday operations from the get go, meaning the experience gained is often more valuable for the future and for developing key skills.

So, how can small business owner attract graduates from other regions and ensure they are securing the best talent from around the country?

Ensure your recruitment process is youth-friendly

Graduates generally lack experience in applying for jobs, so it’s essential that your business’ recruitment process is youth-friendly. This can be as easy as avoiding too much business-specific jargon in the advertisement, or ensuring you are advertising in the right places. University careers websites, careers fairs and social media are the best ways to target young talent.

Emphasise in the job description that they can expect fast-track progression which they may not find elsewhere. It’s also important to ensure you specify the degree and experience you require, in order that applicants know their skills will be put to good use.

Investing in training and offering opportunities to learn will also tempt in talented grads, while proving your business’ commitment to professional development. It doesn’t have to be expensive either, one day a month of training from more experienced members of the team will be a valuable investment.

Be quick to respond to applicants

Giving applicants feedback on their application and responding to them quickly will also help to attract and retain graduates. Young people are used to having immediate responses from modern technology and will respond more readily if your business does the same.

Make sure you have a transparent and organised process so that other, larger companies do not offer them a job before you can respond.

Try to avoid segregation between staff

While some form of hierarchy is unavoidable, try to structure your business so that junior employees get to spend plenty of time with the more senior members of staff. This will attract graduates who want valuable experience alongside business owners and senior employees, rather than being surrounded by other juniors and trainees.

Be relatable to young graduates

Another way to attract graduates is to create clear company goals that a young person can easily relate to and will make them want to become a part of

In terms of graduate retention, make sure they feel involved as soon as they join. A fun but professional office atmosphere is a definite way forward. Ensuring there are plenty of avenues for growth is also important and is what can distinguish you from larger corporations.

Darren Diamond is CEO of recruitment company Do You Want a Job?

Our definitive guide to hiring your first staff member is essential reading for new employers:

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