Blog Article

Attracting graduates isn’t the problem, it’s keeping them

Posted by Lucy Beaumont

Lucy Beaumont

With yet another book out this month from Google ~ ‘Work Rules’ ~ detailing what it’s like to work at Google, we can confidently say that Google have nailed the ‘attracting candidates’ piece. We’ve all heard, and perhaps been in awe of some of the wondrous HR initiatives at Google which make it such a fascinating place to work. There’s the free and unlimited gourmet food, incredible work spaces that resemble playgrounds more than offices, the 80/20 rule allowing employees to dedicate 20% of their work time to ‘passion projects’ and the opportunity to bring your dog to work… to name a few. With more than 2 million applications a year we can comfortably say that Google haven’t got an issue with attracting candidates. Hiring just a few thousand of these candidates a year surely causes a few challenges; but perhaps that’s a good challenge to have.

What strikes me, is that I have a very clear picture of how great it would be to work at Google – I’d use my free bike to cycle across ‘campus’, do some work on a hammock in the sun then grab some complimentary food with my dog at my side. But I’m not really sure what the downside is. What would it really be like to work there? What would I actually be doing? For many organisations this can be a real problem, especially for organisations with a strong consumer brand.

We sell the great perks of the job without really explaining the reality. This is particularly so in the competitive world of graduate recruitment where we use milk rounds and graduate careers pages to attract graduates, but perhaps spend less time communicating what the reality of the job will be – the good and the bad. Interestingly, graduates more so than other employee populations are crying out for this insight with 84% of graduates citing ‘good insight into the role’ as the most important factor when applying to an organisation.

If you aren’t providing real insight into the role, it doesn’t mean that others aren’t! With social media and the likes of Glassdoor and WikiJobs, you aren’t the only people who are talking about what it’s like to work at your company. Your candidates, employees and ex-employees all have a voice on social media and they’re much more likely to share a bad experience than they are a good experience. And guess what? 22% of our tech savvy Graduates spend time online researching organisations via social media and 70% of graduates claim that other people’s bad experiences with an organisation would put them off applying to that company for a job. At the very least, it’s a good idea to monitor your organisations presence on social media, contribute to it if you can and lead the way if you really want to make an impact.

Naturally we want to attract the best graduates to join our organisation, but unless that graduate has a real understanding of the organisations values, the behaviours expected and the types of scenarios they might be faced with, they’re not really in a position to decide if your organisation is right for them. And if they do join and find out it’s not what they expected… they very quickly leave. Taking the time upfront to provide real insight into the role before the candidate applies to the organisation and during the recruitment process can help candidates self-select out if they don’t think it’s right for them and help you select in those who fit the bill and are likely to stay.


Leave a comment

Comment with Facebook


  1. Arun


    May 17, 2015 at 7:13 am

    Sure, people are spending more time online, sharing their experiences with others around them, and there are even more people out there trying to gather as much information about their new employer before they accept the offer, as they can. But I feel that creates more of an attraction problem, rather than retention. Once an employee has joined the organisation, you can be assured that the employee chose you despite all those negative reviews on Glassdoor, etc. if they are effective at all. My understanding is that it is not possible for an organisation to have a strong employer brand without having a strong content in its graduate trainee or development program. So while Google is finding it easy to attract employees, the reason behind it is that once inside the organisation, Graduates are very happy about what they work on and how they work.
    I’ll be really glad to hear your views on this.

  2. James Rice

    James Rice

    May 18, 2015 at 9:14 am

    Great article Lucy, and thanks for mentioning WikiJob. We definitely agree that graduates are keen to know as much as possible about what it’s like to actually work at a company, rather than just what the perks and benefits are. Our forums have for years been a place where graduates can come to discuss specific companies, and to help graduates get more insight, we’ve recently introduced a company reviews feature too.

    As you say at the end of your article, companies shouldn’t be afraid of this kind of information, as it will help candidates to self-select. Ultimately companies only want graduate applicants who genuinely think they will be a good fit for that organisation.

  3. Lucy Beaumont

    Lucy Beaumont

    May 20, 2015 at 8:16 am

    Hi Arun,

    Thanks for reading the article and sharing your views. Yes I agree, it certainly creates an attraction problem – the more graduates that apply the more you have to sift out. This poses a number of issues; how do you positively reject so many graduates and not turn them off your brand; and how do you identify the top graduates from such a wide candidate pool. I think that a great attraction programme can certainly be supported by a great training programme once inside the organisation. I think the focus is on whether the organisation and the role will suit the individual. So whilst organisations share the perks of working for them, it’s also important to get an understanding of what it’s going to be like working for the company and whether this would suit you. It’s just about being realistic about what the job will involve, allowing graduates to decide if that suits them. There is very high turnover of graduates within the first year or two and interestingly Google actually has a very high median employee turnover – of just over one year!

    I’d be interested to hear the challenges that you face in graduate recruitment, and whether you think providing grads with a realistic preview into the role and organisation would add value for your organisation?

  4. Lucy Beaumont

    Lucy Beaumont

    May 20, 2015 at 8:35 am

    Hi James,

    Thanks for commenting and I completely agree that graduates are actively seeking this kind of information to better understand the organisations they are applying to; Great that WikiJobs provide such a forum. I also think that employers should be reviewing their social media presence so that they can be aware of what graduates think about their company and where possible they should be joining in with the conversation. We conducted research with graduates which found that 70% of graduates claim that other people’s bad experiences with an organisation would put them off applying to that organisation:
    So these forums make a real difference and graduate recruiters should be aware of what’s being said so that they can get involved. Worth mentioning that graduates do also use social media to share great experiences of organisations – it’s not all bad!


Related posts  

Subscribe to our mailing list

To access our latest thinking and get regular updates fill in your email address below

Latest video blog

More from Hay Group