As it becomes increasingly challenging for organisations to attract and retain technical talent, more and more companies are looking to tap into the IT graduate market to support their technical teams. The best graduates will be in high demand, so if you want a candidate to accept an offer with you instead of your competitors then you will need to invest in a great candidate journey. The candidate journey is one of the most important parts of the recruitment process, yet it is something that is so often overlooked too. If you want to nab the best IT Graduates, then follow this simple guide:
Enhance your Careers Presence
Companies often think that the candidate journey starts from the point that the candidate applies for a role, but the actual experience starts much earlier than this. Experience is all about the candidate’s interactions with your company, and a big part of this is how (and what) they discover about your organisation. A traditional careers site is essential but remember that you are trying to attract graduates, so you’ll want to add a bit of life to the page and not just post reams of text about the history of your company. The majority of graduates use social media multiple times a day, so you’ll want a dedicated Facebook, Twitter and Instagram page for your companies’ careers department (not to be confused with your corporate social media pages!).
Share your Graduate Successes
As part of building your careers presence you’ll want to find a way to niche down the information to make it relevant for IT graduates. Consider having a standalone page or careers hub where you can share graduate specific vacancies as well as shout about any graduate success stories you have. Career progression and development opportunities are often high on the list of desires for IT graduates, so if you can demonstrate how you have done this in the past with your employees you will have a better chance of convincing graduates to apply for your role.
Target Relevant Universities
Advertising in the key arenas for job hunting is highly advised but remember that for some Graduates this will be their first real experience of applying for a job, and therefore they may not know the key places to search for opportunities on. Try and target local Universities and see if there is an opportunity to post your jobs on their intranet / University site? In many cases you can do this for free so it's worth asking the question!
Be Mobile Friendly
Gone are the days of people sitting and applying for a job on their PC, it’s all about mobile ESPECIALLY for the younger generation. Your careers site and job adverts must be mobile optimised, otherwise you may find less graduates applying for your job opportunities.
Authentic Job Description
Stop writing dull adverts that give little or no insight into what the job role is actually like. Graduates want to know the truth, so make it clear about the responsibilities of the role, what the department structure is like, your culture and working environment, and the salary and benefits on offer. Some organisations are still too nervous to post the salary on an advert, but it is a proven way to attract more applications for your job role.
Thorough Candidate Qualification
When a candidate applies the first step should be a member of your organisation contacting them on the phone (it’s a million times quicker than emails) to discuss their application, what they are looking for in the role and what technical experience they have so far. A CV isn’t always an accurate representation of the candidate, so this additional qualification will help weed out unsuitable candidates (meaning you don’t waste any of their time on unnecessary interviews) and confirm the next stages of the application profiles for the candidates who look strong.
Respond to Everyone
A lot of companies choose to only ever get back to the candidates they want to interview, but if a graduate has taken the time to apply for a job the least you can do is let them know they haven’t been successful this time around. If you receive an extremely high volume of applications then an applicant tracking system that combines personalisation with automation will help you do this without taking up too much of your time. Not convinced you need to? Candidates who are not informed of the status or decision of their application are 3.5 times less likely to re-apply to the company that declined them, and 85% doubt that a human being has even reviewed their application (source: Workplace Trends).
Candidates who are not informed of the status or decision of their application are 3.5 times less likely to re-apply to the company that declined them, and 85% doubt that a human being has even reviewed their application (source: Workplace Trends)
Create a Realistic Shortlist
When you go through your applications, and qualify candidates you will want to build a “candidate shortlist” that you can move through to the next stage (usually a face to face interview). As tempting as it is to invite every candidate with a computer science degree in to see you it’s better to narrow the list down to a selection of candidates who are most suited to the role. Beware of the “relocators” too. Some candidates might be happy to make the move for a graduate role but a lot of graduates will want to stay close to home or University, simply because of the costs associated.
Mix up the Interview Process
Chances are you have a standard interview process at your organisation, however what usually works for your more senior roles won’t necessarily be right for the IT graduates. You’ll want to have a thorough discussion about their technical skills and the role itself, but make sure you focus on the development opportunities for their career and use the opportunity to really “sell” working for your company. It could make a big difference if they have more than one offer on the table.
Give Honest Feedback and Advice
When it comes to delivering post interview feedback it is tempting to go for the easy let down for the candidates that don’t make it through. You must remember that graduates are often less experienced with the world of work / job interviews, and a few honest words of advice may be really beneficial for them to hear. Always let them down gently, as you want to maintain a good relationship for any vacancies you have in the future, but genuine advice will show that you care more than organisations that don’t pass this information on.
Offer and Onboard
Make sure you deliver the offer in a way that is concise but also to get them excited about working at your organisation. Sending out contracts quickly will give graduates full transparency of the role but let them know that any questions are welcomed as this may be their first time accepting a job role. Don’t forget about the overall onboarding experience either, small touches like a welcome gift and a structured first week will make a great impression.