HR & Management

How to hold on to graduate talent

6 min read

05 June 2013

With this year’s Milkround completed, many employers will be looking forward to welcoming the latest wave of new talent – yet there are few things more annoying than having the milk pinched from your doorstep when you are in need of a brew.

The concentrated nature of the Milkround, which often finds organisations inundated by graduate applications from December through to February, can make employers rely too heavily on the process. Yet once the complex HR reliant process is complete, organisations relax and leave successful candidates untouched and open to poaching.

With so many graduates keen to secure employment, and plenty of competition amongst employers to attract the most promising candidates, the Milkround is time-consuming, stressful and prolonged. To add to the complexity of hiring in today’s work environment, the HR resources of many companies have never been spread so thin. With workforce reductions biting, and more regulations and responsibilities falling into the laps of Human Resources, reducing the burden of recruiting and on-boarding, without impacting its quality, is a struggle.

But once the candidates have been secured, offers have been made and roles have been filled, many HR departments will move onto the next project, consigned to facing the pressure again next year. Unfortunately for many of those who think Milkround 2013 is done and dusted, there are still headaches to come. How can you ensure successful candidates will still be interested in working for you post-exam season? What about those who fail to make their grades? 

Here are a few things to consider if you want to prevent the latest talent from slipping through your fingers.

1. Stay attractive

Make sure your company is all that it promises to be. Make them feel excited about the prospect of working with you. Having up-to-date social media accounts, such as Facebook or Twitter, and keeping the news section of your website updated are good first steps. If the press has written about your company, or an award has been won, share it with your latest hires.

2. Keep them constantly engaged

For many candidates their first day will be the first time they have really interacted with your company since the interview stages. This can leave them feeling disconnected and – worse – disinterested in your company. Without a well-designed process aimed at helping candidates keep their potential employees front-of-mind, companies risk squandering their investment of luring the best talent into their recruitment process, as candidates reassess their options closer to graduation. Keep them constantly engaged through newsletters, tweets, and email updates. 

3. Build the team ahead of time

Many employers will be hiring more than one graduate. Be sure to introduce them ahead of their start dates so that they can form relationships, get to know each other and generally get excited about working for you. Setting up a Facebook group or similar is a great way for people to get to know each other in a space you can also monitor.

4. Can they make the grade

It’s inevitable that some of your chosen candidates will not make the grades. While some grades will be negotiable, some will not, and the earlier you know the sooner you can start to look for replacements. As part of the initial recruitment process, have in place firm dates when you can expect to hear about exam results and give graduates a simple process through which to submit their grades and any appeals they may be lodging.

5. Have a comprehensive on-boarding process

Make sure you have all the processes and information in place so your new employees can hit the ground running. Try to automate administrative processes where possible; this lessens the burden on your HR team and cuts out the “form filling” which often takes up most of the first day. Be sure to reach out to new starters as early as possible so that they don’t get distracted by offers from competitors. Develop personalised microsites, accessed by candidates directly, or sites customised to applicant tracking to retain and excite new employees. With today’s candidates more internet aware and “brand savvy” than ever, this ensures that candidates are given the best impression from the start as well as enough accurate information to decide if a traineeship position is right for them.

In reality, it is a challenge for traditional recruiters to engage the Facebook generation in a process designed for snail mail (let alone the disappearing world of email). Hopefully the above points will help you hold onto the talent you fought so hard for during the Milkround.

Nic Scott is the CEO of Fairsail, providers of HR Management Software and pioneers of Global Workforce Collaboration.