Graduate recruitment in 2021 and beyond

Written by Mairead Simons

The COVID pandemic and the uncertainty it has caused has no doubt had a significant impact on the graduate market. Many students are leaving university without a job secured and plenty more are choosing to stay in education rather than risk heading into the world of work in these conditions. In July 2020, the Social Mobility Foundation found that, depending on the industry, there were between 12-40% fewer graduate roles available. Further to this, internships were facing a cut of 50%.

For companies looking to hire graduates, this will create the need to work significantly harder to attract the best talent available. The prospect of work will need to be made to appear much more attractive than an extended education in order to persuade graduates into your business. With careers fairs and graduate events being put on hold, it’s becoming harder to entice the right talent, meaning many businesses are turning to the internet and social media to best advertise the graduate roles they have to offer. Luckily for hiring parties, this generation of graduates will likely react best to online interaction and virtual engagement methods are potentially going to have to become the long-term norm.

With remote working more prevalent than ever before, expectations will need to be set out for graduates from the outset. The prospect of working from home when starting your career can appear daunting due to uncertainty of how much support can be offered when you don’t have a colleague sitting next to you. A study found that nearly a quarter of graduates drop out within the first year so it’s vital that businesses focus on the little things to keep retention high. So, especially with remote working involved, businesses will need to focus on specifying the skills grads will need when working remotely, the expectations of working from home and the realistic expectations and opportunities for travel.

Leading on from this, the rise in remote working, especially when starting off in your career, can lead to worry regarding the working culture. To attract the best talent during remote working, companies are going to have to promote a strong remote-working culture. Ensuring employees are engaged with the role and their colleagues whilst working from home will be vital in retaining the best graduate talent. Team building and networking events should still be part of the training and development process, regardless of the working environment.

This year, the graduate market has been harder to break into than ever before. Many businesses initially reduced their vacancies and this led to graduates staying in education rather than attempting to start their careers. This lack of graduate roles ultimately also pushes competition for the available few to an all-time high. To keep up with the times, recruiters and businesses will need to adapt their techniques accordingly to the new normal in society, promoting the benefits and progression within their company and retaining the best talent whilst they have it.

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