The competition for graduate talent

Employers looking for graduate talent are facing extraordinary competition. Yet, at the same time, grads fear reduced job prospects…

As competition increases:

Candidates are now making an average of 29 graduate scheme applications at once. This has created an application boom. The ‘finance and professional services’ industries have gone from receiving 50,000 applications to more than 250,000.

Not only is this keeping the employers rather busy (and forcing them to compete against each other), it’s also spiking competition levels among the applicants.

While 3/4 of candidates have expressed an interest in graduate programmes, only 1% of applicants were recruited last year.

There are some positive findings though, including those relating to the reduced gender gap and increased ‘race equality’.

Why candidates are worried:

78% of graduates surveyed by Milkround fear that Brexit will ‘negatively affect their career’.

More than 1/2 foresee a struggle to find a graduate job – believing the economy could reflect the patterns observed during the 2008 financial crisis. During this period graduates spent an average of 8 months trying to secure their first role. Many applicants also changed their career plans or entered different sectors due to job scarcity.

Despite these concerns, there are some promising stats. The Office for National Statistics reports continued record employment, while Milkround has observed a 104% increase in graduate openings ‘year on year’.

Soon to graduate or already done so?

Don’t forget that there are multiple routes into your first career role. Alongside the traditional big-firm schemes, there are many SME employers looking to recruit and develop graduates.

The Bath area has a wealth of high calibre employers looking to do just this, especially among the finance, financial services and professional services sectors. You’ll often find great examples on our jobs feed. As well as looking at the general listings, you can search by ‘graduate’ to see some of the latest opportunities.

Remember to also keep in touch with your Recruitment Consultant so that you are aware of the latest vacancies that match your career skills and goals.



7 days of employee attraction tips!

Are your employee attraction strategies up to scratch? Check your progress against our top tips – we’ll be sharing something daily over the next week…

The latest skills shortage stats show just how vital this information is to employers. After all, you’re currently competing against a greater number of companies for a smaller number of candidates.

Ready to get started?

DAY 1: your culture and ethos

Could you (and your existing team) describe your company culture and brand values/ethos? If so, how do you promote this to prospective employees – is it on your website? Do you include any blurb on your job descriptions? If you answer ‘no’ to any of the above, it’s time to get brainstorming!

Working for brands with a positive purpose is becoming increasingly important to emerging generations of professionals.

Communicating your company culture can also help attract like-minded individuals to your business. And we all know the value of a positive team fit!

What’s more, well-aligned values also appear to boost later productivity and workplace relations. Please note: the ‘well-aligned’ is key here! It’s important that anything you communicate is truly reflected in your workplace. Whether that’s comments about the positive atmosphere, your people-centred approach, or your attitude to progression and diversity.

DAY 2: building your benefits package

You might not think you’re in the position to create much of an employee benefits package, however, you really don’t need to have a vast budget in order to do so. It could also be a costly mistake not to at least explore your options.

Where possible, detail some of your employee benefits in your job descriptions. 85% of candidates are more attracted to organisations that do this. Or, at the very least, make sure candidates know that there are a number of benefits on offer.

Do your competitor research to see what other companies are offering their employees. Also, swot up on the latest research surrounding job-seekers’ priorities. We reguarly share such news findings, including our recent post on what most employees want and need in 2019.

DAY 3: be more flexible

It’s time to discuss flexible working. Yes, this is featured in some of the staff benefit discussions, yet it more than deserves its own employee attraction spotlight.

People are increasingly drawn to companies that provide flexi-working opportunities. There are multiple plus points to consider here:

  1. It may help you attract large and in many cases untapped talent pools, such as maternity returners and working parents.
  2. Again, emerging worker groups are also more attracted to jobs with flexible and home working potential.
  3. Your team may become happier and your business may better keep up with rapidly changing workplace needs.
  4. What’s more, as the UK lags behind other nations in this respect, you may gain a distinct competitive advantage in your field.

DAY 4: be a rarity!

In order to attract the most valuable employees, you need to offer and promote something that few companies ever even consider.

Something that will also help retain your employees once on-board – and help overcome some of the most worrying national workplace trends (the employee performance crisis; high levels of disengagement and a general sense of unhappiness at work)…

This something is only offered by approximately 19% of businesses and is best described as ‘an experimentation culture’. It’s all about enabling your employees to share their ideas without criticism, actively encouraging innovation and creativity, and all-around greater team and individual involvement. You’ll need to have the right management approach in place to make this possible. You’ll also need to communicate this message to prospective employees. However, just think of the possibilities for your business!

DAY 5: make a path

Again, this is somewhat touched upon as an employee benefit. Yet did you know that 90% of UK employees deem training to be ‘vital to furthering their career?’ All the while, only 25% of HR professionals say their employers provide a ‘learning culture’.

You may not have the sort of business that enables a clear route of progression, yet you can certainly help your employees to see a path of personal progression and development. What a helpful tool to include in your job adverts.

As we’re now deep into a ‘skills economy’ period, it’s great to consider all training avenues – from online learning and knowledge sharing to in-house coaching and external courses. This is all discussed in the above-linked post.

DAY 6: now for the salaries!

It’s hard to deny that salary levels are important. UK employees are more motivated by pay than those of any other European country, with 62% of professionals saying that their salary is their primary driver to work.

In addition to this, average national salaries grew by 7.6% last year. This is driven by the skills shortage and saw a boost in December when candidate availability numbers fell again.

Make certain that your salary levels are as competitive as they can be to attract more job applicants. Monitor your competitors’ job adverts and be sure to seek salary guidance from your Recruitment Consultant.

DAY 7: bringing it all together

You’ve put in all the work to create an attractive employer offering, now you need to make sure you’re reaching out to as many candidates as you can; as effectively as you can!

This means crafting an appealing job description – and making sure that this is actually getting in front of your target audience.

Contact an expert recruitment agency in your industry for support with both elements. From job description guidance, through to regional industry insights, and ready access to the most effective candidate attraction tools, there are so many benefits to working with a dedicated recruitment consultant. They may even have the perfect person on their database waiting for a job such as yours!

Thanks for joining us for this week of tips. We hope you’re feeling ready to execute your newly refined employee attraction approach! To discuss your recruitment needs, please call Appoint on 01225 313130.



Reputation matters to job-seekers

Why any business looking to recruit new team members would be wise to take a good look at their reputation.

Today’s discussion rather neatly follows on from our last post. If you haven’t read it yet, it highlights the importance of job skills in relation to the ongoing skills shortage.

With many stats pointing towards both high staff demand and low application numbers, employers must appraise their staff attraction approach. And this is where brand reputation comes into the conversation…

Never more important than now:

It’s said that a brand’s online rep is more important now than ever before. Alongside the recruitment climate we’ve outlined above (and over the past few articles!), we all clearly possess the digital means to thoroughly investigate our prospective employers. The stats suggest:

  • 70% of people will always research an employer’s reputation before applying for a job.
  • 56% would not go on to make an application if the business had ‘no online presence’. 57% say they would distrust these companies.
  • As for what the candidates are searching for, employee satisfaction and how staff are treated top the priority list.

The power of word of mouth…

It’s not only low job application numbers that employers should be concerned about. Future buying behaviour may also be affected by their recruitment reputation.

Perhaps understandably, candidates who’ve been through an unpleasant recruitment experience are less likely to support that employer’s products or services. What’s more, word of mouth could further harm wider purchasing choices.

  • 69% of candidates would discuss their negative experience with others – 81% would do so through one-to-one conversations and 18% via social media broadcasting.
  • 47% who heard about such a negative encounter from a friend would be less willing to purchase the brand’s offerings.
  • The experiences most likely to influence buying behaviour included poor interview encounters, and ‘lack of transparency’ regarding salaries or job descriptions, alongside non-existent interview feedback.

A reputation for the positive:

Thanks to HR News, we’ve observed the importance of employer reputation and the consequences of a poor recruitment rep. Now, we turn to Recruiting Times and the draw of a positive impact.

Employees feel that working for these companies would increase their individual happiness and productivity. In addition, staff members would be willing to leave roles that didn’t prioritise a positive or meaningful ethos.

How companies can work with recruitment agencies to improve their employer reputations

  • As well as ensuring you have an up-to-date and easily found website, why not provide some extra details that support your employer reputation profile? This could include links to any awards you’ve received (especially those for staff management), links to review sites, and HR provisions you’re proud to offer.
  • If you have had any negative reviews as an employer, it may be worth discussing these with your Consultant. Perhaps it came from previous management and new methods are now in place. Honest conversations can help your Consultant to communicate openly with prospective candidates.
  • Sometimes it helps if candidates can meet with one or a few employees during the interview process. This also proves a useful tool for ascertaining potential team fit.
  • Recruitment consultants can advise on how to best conduct the interview process, support you in creating the most appropriate job descriptions and help provide interview feedback/updates.
  • The above can also include a focus on your impact statements and brand purpose. This must be authentic though, or else an excited applicant could soon become a disgruntled employee!

Please call the office on 01225 313130 to discuss your recruitment needs.



The job skills special

As ever, we’re keeping a close eye on the job skills news. It’s vital that everyone involved in the recruitment process (candidates, clients and consultants included!) remains aware of the nation’s changing skills needs. Information that becomes all the more vital as the UK skills shortage becomes all the more prolonged…

What exactly is the skills shortage?

Quite simply, it’s the shortfall of suitable applicants for the number of job vacancies that the nation has to fill. It’s an issue that we’ve been discussing for more than 18 months.

The latest job skills news reveals that…

  1. Most businesses (79%) plan to increase their higher-skilled roles within the coming years. However, the majority of employers (66%) worry that they will struggle to find suitably matched employees.
  2. A Barclays LifeSkills survey shows that almost 60% of UK adults ‘lack core transferable’ job skills, including leadership and creativity. Differences are reported among demographic groups.
  3. 2/5 of people are being recruited for roles before discovering they do not have the right ‘soft skills’ required. More than 1/2 of workers have left a role on realising their personality or work style does not suit the position.
  4. SMEs face the worst of the skills shortage, with underperforming recruits costing an annual average of £39,500.

What are the solutions?

According to the reports, changes must be made at a formal education level. All future workers should be equipped with adequate skills for the modern workplace.

Alongside this, employers need to provide continued training opportunities. Therefore enabling existing workers to upskill on the job; aiding staff retention and business growth.

Businesses must also review their recruitment approach to ensure…

  • They are managing to attract enough applicants.
  • Employers also know how to best identify suitable skill-sets.
  • The job offering is additionally appealing enough to compete with those of other (perhaps better known) organisations.
  • Decision-making processes are swift enough to retain interested applicants.
  • While ample onboarding is provided to welcome new staff members.
  • Plus the list really does go on..!

What should you do now?

  • Employers & employees: keep reading articles such as these! We regularly share posts discussing the most sought-after job skills – useful insights whether you’re the one looking to fill these or the businesses competing to attract them!
  • Especially for job-seekers: do all that you can to ensure that you’re searching for the right jobs for you and you’re doing everything possible to highlight your skills. Stop the scattergun approach (i.e. applying for anything and everything regardless of whether it suits your skills and experience!) and make sure your CV clearly matches each job specification you put yourself forward for. Read job adverts as closely as you can – they highlight the most essential skills for each individual role.
  • Especially for businesses: start working through that bulleted list above! Your Recruitment Consultant is the perfect person to call on to support you with this. For tailored recruitment advice, please call the office on 01225 313130.


FAQ: Do I Need a Cover Letter?

Research suggests younger workers resent writing them, yet the majority take the time to. Do you need a bespoke cover letter to apply to a recruitment agency? 

The above references an onrec piece, in which we hear:

  • 2 in 3 applicants aged 18-24 resent having to create bespoke cover letters for each job application
  • However, 56.7% of workers always do so
  • And 2 in 3 believe ‘that cover letters benefit a job application’

Let’s start with how you’re applying

When you say ‘cover letter’ we’d recommend that this is always a ‘cover email’ for recruitment agencies. Not only will it reach the agency much sooner, it helps your recruitment consultant to process your information. I.e. easily saving your CV and being able to swiftly format this for any client applications.

So, does that mean you always need a cover email for a recruitment agency? 

Yes it would be recommended for your initial introductory email. Although that’s not necessarily as detailed an email as you might expect!

Recruitment agencies usually receive many CVs each day due to the number of roles that they’re actively recruiting for (as well as from candidates who simply wish to be considered for any suitable role that becomes available).

To this end, your goal is to ensure your covering email succinctly communicates the basics of your search needs and availability.

You’ll want to include:

  • Position type: whether you’re looking for temporary &/or permanent work. Plus whether this is part time or full time.
  • Nature of role/s: the types of roles that you are hoping to apply for i.e. Account Management, Office Assistant, PA, Administrator, Finance Manager, etc.
  • A salary guide: at least the minimum that you would realistically commit to.
  • Your working availability – whether immediate or with X number of weeks’ notice
  • If applicable: job reference numbers & titles for any roles of specific interest (you can find these at the bottom of each job advert on the Appoint website)

If you’re applying for a specific vacancy, you may wish to add a brief line regarding your associated experience. However, be certain to ensure that this is also clearly conveyed in your attached CV.

Talking of CVs…

If you’re applying as a general applicant (i.e. not for a specific vacancy) you can use your standard/basic CV. This should be one that highlights your skills and achievements from the point of view of most of the roles that you’d be looking for right now.

When applying for a specific vacancy, it’s wise to update this CV to include examples that pertain to the job specification.

What if you’ve included 6 job references in your cover email, do you need to send 6 CVs?

No, that would be CV overload! The likelihood is that there will be a theme to these jobs – that is if the references relate to positions that you are likely to fulfil the advertised requirements for, as opposed to those that you have no experience/qualifications in yet just catch your eye..!

Perhaps two CVs would be most suitable: each to demonstrate one of the core themes. Name the CV files to reflect this and –to be super efficient!– list the reference codes under the related CV header.

You’re welcome to use this copy & paste template…

[See above for a reminder as to what each bullet point refers to!]

Dear X,

Opening line or two of your choice…

  • Position type:
  • Nature of role/s:
  • Salary guide:
  • Working availability:
  • Job reference numbers & titles (if applicable):

Closing line,

Name

Mobile number

We hope this helps take some of the stress away from writing your cover email – and we look forward to receiving your application! You can also submit your CV via our website here.