Whether it’s in law, tech, finance or government, all organisations are under increasing pressure to attract and retain the best of the best from the latest graduating cohort. And the current market hasn’t made this challenge any easier. Social distancing, closed borders and lock-down restrictions have wreaked havoc on recruitment; yet GradConnection’s recent survey, Impact of Coronavirus on Graduate Programs, found the demand for graduates hasn’t lessened. The majority of employers are reporting no or very little change to their hiring numbers for 2021.

This means the market for quality graduate candidates will continue to be tight for the foreseeable future. So how can you ensure your program is attractive to the top graduates? Here are three tips to attract the best graduates to your 2021 programs.


Prioritise diversity and inclusion

Review the language and strategies you use to attract and communicate with graduates so you don’t unintentionally turn-away high-quality applicants. The majority of today’s graduates value diversity as a crucial factor in their decision to work in an organisation.

Offering Equal Opportunity, Indigenous, and Neurodiversity programs is an excellent way to showcase your commitment to diversity and inclusion – beyond a HR mandated inclusion statement at the bottom of a graduate brochure. The language we use in our communications is also very important. Whether it’s intentional or not, we all carry implicit biases in our everyday language. It’s important to make conscious efforts to avoid this. Tools like Gender Decoder or Microsoft’s new AI tools can help when designing any communications, including recruitment advertisements.


Create a smooth candidate experience

91% of Generation Z (those born after 1997 and currently overtaking Millennials as the largest generation) agree technological sophistication impacts their interest in working for a company. While not all 2020 graduates will necessarily be Gen Z, you can be sure all of the top graduates will be fielding multiple offers. This means your candidate experience could be a crucial factor in their decision making.

The ever-increasing popularity of various social media platforms has produced a hypercognitive graduate cohort very comfortable with collecting and cross-referencing many sources of information and integrating virtual and offline experiences. This makes a great candidate experience paramount. Technology has continued to make dramatic inroads into the recruitment industry, streamlining systems and processes, so don’t get left behind by your competition. Ensure your application processes and response systems are efficiently engaging graduates throughout the entire recruitment process – even after they’ve accepted, continuing through their onboarding and orientation.


Offer the chance to make an impact

More and more studies are showing how graduates aren’t looking at the reputation of an organisation, or their entry salary but at the opportunities, their employees have to make a difference, in the world, within the organisation, and within themselves. According to the AAGE’s Candidate Surveys over the past few years, today’s graduates are accepting graduate opportunities based on:

  • the quality of the training and development program (27.69%),
  • the opportunity for career progression (24.68%),
  • the quality of the work (19.12%), and company culture (15.89%)

If you’re committed to attracting and retaining top graduates, give some thought to the culture at your organisation. Do you have clear socially conscious values? Have you presented a clear career path full of learning opportunities to your graduates? Will their work be recognised in a meaningful way? Are your current employees happy to come to work? It’s tough to attract top graduates if your newly employed grads look like they’re eager to leave.

Your recruitment strategy shouldn’t focus on attracting more graduates; rather, it’s about ensuring you remain a competitive option to the right graduates. Prioritise diversity and inclusion, create a great candidate experience and showcase how your people have the chance to make a positive impact. With the level of competition in the market, these strategies make a huge impact, so when the New Year begins, you’ll have the right talent in place for your organisation to reach its potential.