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Graduate Recruitment: Where To Start and How to Knock It Out Of The Park

It’s the start of a brand new academic year in many countries around the world which can only mean one thing. It’s time for recruiters to start thinking about their graduate recruitment campaigns! You may be forgiven for thinking that graduate recruitment should be easy. After all, don’t students want jobs as soon as they put the books down?

But the competition for recruiting the next wave of graduates is fierce, meaning it can be difficult for you to stand out from the crowd. Add to that the typically highly savvy, ambitious graduates as well as the explosion of marketing channels, it is definitely not an easy task for recruiters! But that’s what we’re here for and today we’re going to break down where to begin with your graduate recruitment campaign and how to knock it out of the park!

Planning and Research

Before you embark on your graduate recruitment campaign, there are 2 things you need to nail down: setting your target market and understanding your audience. For the first point, you need to define the types of graduates you want to apply for your positions. Try and go beyond just focusing on ‘all graduates’ which is far too broad. Ask yourself: are you searching for graduates who are in the upper 10th percentile of their class? Are you only looking to recruit graduates in the top 20 universities? What sort of personalities are you hoping to attract? Answering these questions will help you focus your efforts throughout your campaign.

The second point is a little less straightforward. You want to truly understand your graduates, their goals and their pain points which aren’t easy things to discover. But the best way to define these is developing candidate personas which will help you garner a full understanding of the ways graduates arrive at decisions. Primarily, you’re going to be engaging with millennials who value open communication, regular feedback and encouragement from management so it’s important to build these work preferences in your communication. Check out the candidate persona template below which you can use when creating your graduate personas.


Online and Multimedia Activities

Ideally, you should have a one-stop shop for your graduate recruitment activities, including the application process itself. What we mean by one-stop shop is a dedicated graduate website. One of our favourite examples of this is the Jameson graduate website which is a testament to their recent focus on graduate recruitment, which has brought them from number 159 to number 9 on GradIreland’s ranking of the leading graduate employers in Ireland. The website has everything – details of the different programmes available, how to apply, graduate testimonials and a blog. So simple, yet full of relevant information.


It shouldn’t just stop a dedicated website, however – you also need to have a dedicated social presence. But where do your target audiences typically congregate on social? Social media management tool Sprout Social has taken a deep dive into the demographics of each of the major platforms and unsurprisingly these platforms are dominated by users in the 18-29 category. Take a closer look here to see which platforms the 18-29 age bracket spend most of their time on.

When you decide which social networks you want to allocate most of your time, consider pushing out messages that will appeal to this audience such as highlighting the company culture, behind-the-scenes videos, employee spotlights etc. Millennials are information savages so it is important to satisfy their appetites!

Application Process

The application process should be seamless – it should be cross-platform (available on desktop, mobile and tablet) and multi-dimensional. What we mean by multi-dimensional is that instead of just asking for a standard cover letter and resume, try to break away from the norm and ask for a personal video or essay detailing why candidates think they would be a good fit for the recruitment programme. For example, KPMG request a 90 second audio submission so candidates can demonstrate their communication skills and motivation.

All of this feeds into the candidate experience which is a core component of your employer brand. Things that can help you deliver a positive candidate experience for graduates include transparency around the programme itself, a painless application process and communicating exactly what candidates can expect during the process.

Don’t Forget Offline

It’s all well and good having an amazing graduate website but you need to solidify this with activities that go beyond a computer screen. Try and target future graduates from an early age by approaching target universities and placing a core member of your team for example, as a guest lecturer. This is the perfect opportunity for you to have a top employee in the classroom over a period of time who can put your company in a positive light in front of fresh-faced students.

The other main offline tactic that can be used is attending career fairs. These can be hit and miss for companies who want to build awareness of their employer brand as so many other companies are attending these fairs. But to set yourselves apart from the competition, you should bring along employees instead of bringing graduate-hungry recruiters. If you have employees who are alumni of your target universities, even better! Not only would they be ambassadors for your company, they would also be ambassadors for the university they themselves graduated from, which future graduates would be able to relate to.

So these are the various elements of a graduate recruitment campaign you need to nail down. However, it’s important that you follow through after your graduate campaign! What we mean by this is that an amazing graduate experience doesn’t stop at the application stage. The standard of a great candidate experience must be held up from the interview stage, all the way through to the induction period. Word-of-mouth plays a massive a role when it comes to your recruitment process and if you start building a reputation of a company that doesn’t follow through, your employer brand will suffer. So get started on your next graduate campaign today!

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