HR · 1 June 2017

Students set to reject corporate world and target graduate jobs at micro companies

Micro firms may feel at a disadvantage when it comes to competing with bigger names for talent
Micro firms may feel at a disadvantage when it comes to competing with bigger names for talent

Britain’s small business owners could gain a head start in recruiting university talent this summer, after new research revealed students were more likely to seek out graduate jobs at smaller companies than large firms.

In a national survey of over 9,000 students and graduates, by careers service Prospects, 37 per cent of those looking to enter employment in the next 12 months wanted to work for a small business.

By contrast, just 29 per cent of respondents wanted to gain employment from a larger company. A further look into the findings revealed why graduates are beginning to favour careers at smaller firms.

Almost two-thirds of those hoping to work for a small business were keen on the opportunity of worker within a smaller team, expecting better professional and social interaction than would be offered by a company with hundreds of employees.

A broader question of what graduates looked for in a job revealed three driving considerations – training and development opportunities, generous pay and ethical corporate values that reflected their own.

With smaller teams and often more flexible operations, micro business owners could be best placed to fulfil these expectations.

Commenting on the findings, Jayne Rowley, Prospects deputy chief executive said the working environment at smaller firms could naturally align with the kind of graduate jobs students were looking for.

“Many graduates welcome jobs in smaller companies, preferring the opportunities and working environment that they offer,” she said in a statement.

“In turn they offer small businesses a fantastic opportunity to bring new skills and ideas into their business, but competition can be fierce to attract the top talent that they need.”

With no shortage of employers competing for the next generation of talent, Rowley advised small business to be more strategic in their approach.

“While they may not always be able to compete on pay, [small business owners] can look to attract talent in other ways such, as through sustainable business practices and flexible working,” she said.

Last year, Business Advice expert, and Office Genie’s head of strategy, Peter Ames, provided readers with an in-depth guide to offering graduate jobs. Ames outlined a number of strategic ways for small company owners to use the size of their firm to their advantage.

Ames encouraged offering flexible working hours, promoting in-house training and ensuring a vibrant working environment.

“Perhaps most importantly, graduates are increasingly seeking truly meaningful roles as they leave the world of academia behind. Small businesses offer this in abundance,” he said.

If you’re a new founder thinking of growing your workforce with graduate jobs, don’t miss our essential guide to hiring your first employee:

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Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.