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How To Recruit Graduates

There are several challenges you face when recruiting graduates so here are some top tips on how to recruit graduates.

The Challenges You face when you recruit graduates

There are a number of challenges you face when embarking on graduate recruitment. You have all the usual challenges recruitment brings plus a few more that are particular to graduate recruitment.

1) How to recruit graduates when all the CVs look pretty much the same.

how-to-recruit-graduatesWhen you are faced with a mountain of graduate CVs, the first thing you notice is how similar they look. Depending on the role you are trying to fill, you could be looking at stacks of CVs which are almost identical.

They are so similar that it encourages some bizarre behaviour in recruiters.

You start to filter on the design of the CV itself; rejecting some candidates because you don’t like the way they have laid out their CV.

You also start to reject candidates based on their photo. Either because you like/dislike their photo or because they have not included a photo.

When it comes to graduate recruitment, the CV is practically useless.

As recruiters we start to read into things. We make huge leaps and conclusions because somehow we have to get 400 applications down to about ten for interview.

How someone lays out their CV has little or no baring on their ability to do the job. These leaps in psychology are misleading and unhelpful, yet we will spend a lot of time trying to convince ourselves and others that it matters.

2) How to recruit graduates with no work experience to go on

Most graduates have either no relevant experience, so how do you recruit graduates under such circumstances?

Traditionally in recruitment this is what recruiters depend upon most. This is what we want to read about in their CV and it’s what they want to talk about in interviews.

When there is no history to speak of, what do you do?

Well one behaviour it forces recruiters to do it demand higher qualifications. Let’s be honest, having a first class honours degree isn’t a predictor of performance. Are you able to spot people in your office with first class honour degrees from their work? Of course not.

So once again we look to measure one thing (qualification level) as an indicator or something else (ability to do the job well). It simply doesn’t stack up in the real world.

3) How to recruit graduates when there is very little to use as a first line filter

So as we can see there is very little to use as a first line filter. Getting 400 graduate applicants down to 10 is extremely difficult.

So what filters can you use?

One filter that is more robust than any other is personality.

It’s apparent that some people are more compatible with some work environments than others, depending on their personality. If you know what the role looks like then you should be able to judge what personality types will fit in most naturally.

4) How to recruit graduates with no skills to work with

Recruiters do not believe in career change in general. This is why we would much rather hire someone with a proven track record of doing the identical role than hire someone with great potential but no directly relevant experience.

In most cases we would rather hire someone who had proven themselves to be average at the job, rather than hire someone with potential to be great but no track record.

When hiring graduates, there are no skills to work with. It’s very similar to dealing with candidates who are looking to make a significant career change. And it makes us very uncomfortable as recruiters. It makes our job harder.

5) How to recruit graduates when there’s not much to talk about in the interview

So with so many identical CVs, no work experience to speak of and no skill set to explore, it throws a lot of the decision making onto the interview phase.

The interview is heavily depended on in graduate recruitment because there is little else to work with. We all fall back on

I’ll know it when I see it

Let’s put aside how unreliable this approach is for a minute and ask “What are we going to say in the interview?”

With no skills or experience, what will we talk about in the interview?

Well in practice we speak about things more generally and once again try and project outcomes. We once again try and connect two unrelated events. We try and use the interview experience as a gauge of the candidates ability to do the job. Now even under the best conditions this is a tall order, however in graduate recruitment the interview is even less helpful.

It will tell us how good the candidate is in interviews but that’s about it it.

Again I would encourage you to talk about the candidate’s personality. Specifically I would talk about aspects of their personality that are particularly pertinent to the job role.

For example if the role demanded an eye for detail, then I would explore what the candidates personality report says about their natural ability to take care of the details.

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