GUEST BLOG: Trends in graduate recruitment – what will 2015 hold?

future-175620_640 Guest blog written by WikiJob, the graduate jobs board and forum.

2015 promises to be a good year for graduate recruitment. Not only are there more graduate jobs available than in recent years (according to the High Fliers report, graduate vacancies are expected to grow by 8.1% in 2015) but salaries are also starting to rise: graduates can expect to find median starting salaries of £30,000 for the first time.

So what else is new? Let’s take a look at some of the key trends emerging.

As you might imagine, technology remains a key element of graduate recruitment. Recruiters will continue to refine and develop their strategies around technology this year. Some things to look out for are:

  • Video interviews becoming the norm. Video interviews are cheaper and more time-efficient than traditional interviews and they are now becoming a standard part of the application process. This means that not only do candidates need to prepare themselves appropriately, as in face-to-face interviews, they also need to understand how to present themselves on camera (a skill that can be enhanced with practice). You can read some tips on video interviews here.
  • Recruitment goes even more mobile. Candidates are increasingly expected to engage with recruitment processes through a range of devices, so mobile apps are becoming far more common. Around half of all candidates now expect to be able to use mobile-optimised career sites, and recruiters are starting to adapt their processes to take this into account.
  • Use of social networks (especially LinkedIn) to find candidates. In 2015, recruiters expect to fill around a third of their graduate places with candidates who they have already worked with (placement years, internships etc.). This represents a large percentage of the top talent out there and recruiters are increasingly courting ‘passive’ candidates (that is, candidates who are not actively looking for roles) via social media. You can read more on using social media to get a job here.
  • More virtual interaction with employers. Candidates continue to value personal interaction with potential employers and top candidates can afford to be picky about who they chose to work for, so it’s important for employers to develop these relationships. Use of virtual tools like Skype, Google Hangouts and webinars enable employers to engage far more widely and remove the challenges associated with having a geographical presence at all target universities.
  • Gamification. Gamification is a tool borrowed from marketing – it’s a way of developing and sustaining a relationship with candidates using a game-like mechanic. KPMG recently used a game that challenged candidates to solve problems and race round the world in 80 days, with the top prize being £1,000 and a two-week internship. Marriott Hotels created a Facebook app that put you in control of a hotel kitchen, in the hope that players would end up wanting to work in a real Marriott hotel.

But competition for top graduate positions remains tight and some trends look set to continue in 2015:

  • To be successful, you must have work experience. Not only does this potentially open doors within the host organisation, it also gives you the experience needed to provide quality examples in interview and assessment centres. Even unpaid work experience is better than nothing.
  • Skills such as engineering and technology remain particularly attractive to employers. Competition for top candidates in these key areas is particularly intense, driving up salaries and benefits packages as employers scramble to secure the best candidates.
  • Employers will only take candidates who achieve their requirements. In 2013, 23% of employers did not fill all of their graduate vacancies. This quest for quality looks set to continue into 2015.

But what these requirements are has shifted a little:

  • Employers are increasingly refining their selection tests to more closely match the role. Values- and strengths-based recruitment tests are becoming more prominent as employers look for candidates with a good organisational fit.
  • Soft skills are increasingly important – even in technical roles. The ability to work flexibly within a team environment, manage uncertainty and ambiguity, and demonstrate personal resilience are particularly sought-after attributes.
  • There is a growing demand for diversity within graduate cohorts. Employers are looking for diversity in its broadest possible context, including such elements as socio-economic backgrounds, right through to ethnicity or disability, and even different ways of thinking and behaving.