Tag Archive for Graduate recruitment

@StevenRothberg: Is America Best? #GEC12

I’m at #GEC12, the graduate employability conference in Leeds, organised by Gradcore. Steven runs the largest graduate job board in the US. He has come to share the best practice from the US, and life in general in Minnesota. Steven founded CollegeRecruiter.Com in 1991 and went live on-line from being magazine based in 1996. CollegeRecruiter now host 100,000+ internships. They have chosen to build the site requiring no registration, and without a CV database. All they want to be is the destination of choice by being very easy to use. There is a lesson in that.

The problem in the US is that the cost of education is rising significantly while the salaries on leaving are declining. The biggest drop out rate is men by far, as a result , men are entering more jobs that don’t require a degree, where as women are going in to jobs requiring a qualification. Martin Edmondson of Gradcore commented that in the UK we are at the beginning of the curve with the cost of tuition. It will be interesting to see if the same patterns emerge here in the UK.

Steven is talking about tuition fees. He feels the cost of education is really a subsidy to the Banks, because the debt can’t be written off, and is guaranteed by the Government. The perception in America is the more expensive the university the better the degree. Contrasted with China, education is free. The state invests in learning. it’s interesting to take this principle and compare the fortunes of the nations.

College recruiting is all about big companies, but the jobs are with the small companies. There is clearly a divide but universities embed big company thinking. It is a situation I’m familiar with here in the UK. Grad recruitment is as much about PR in big business as requirement. University employability depts need to move closer to preparing students for where the jobs are. Employability should be embedded in everything the Universities do. If they sell the dream, and charge for it, they need to deliver it.

Steven sees more of a rise in entrepreneurial student or outliers in the States. They went to University for a year or two but chose to leave and work for themselves. The university environment kick starts this. This will be a real problem for graduate employers because the best talent are not sticking around, because a degree and a job is becoming less viable and attractive.

Steven is talking career sites. No one starts their job search on a career site whatever the research says. The influence started somewhere else. Influence is hard to track, applications are not. This is a common problem for recruiters unless you track the relationship rather than the application. We need to think more about how we track this.

70% of career service time is spent on resume/CV writing with only 27% on help with finding an internship. This is a complete waste of purpose and resource and should be the other way around. Employability should be about helping create this gateway in to work. Career services need to move away from being secretarial services. I think the situation in the UK is not that different.

Steven is proposing a scheme of “loan forgiveness.” This is working in unpaid internships to pay off student debt in good faith. Once you get past the need for expenses, it is an interesting prospect. Steven commented that careers offices measure their success by foot-flow. They should really be measured by how many of their students get jobs. Amen to that!

i want to close on this tweet from the floor at #GEC12. It makes a great point. Steven did a brilliant job telling the US story. Thanks for sharing.

#GEC12 Very struck in remarks by@StevenRothberg lack of structural opps for social mobility in the US; and UK gov is looking to US models?!

Bill

Barclays Future Leaders Hub: Reducing Volume/Increasing Quality #trulondon #truStockholm

When your working with a high-profile brand with a public presence, the problem is not getting people to apply for jobs. At #trulondon, Peter Gold spoke of Tesco’s receiving over 1Mn applications via their career site. I’ve seen the same thing with my clients Oracle and the BBC, it’s a different type of problem. The last thing these businesses need is more response, and the higher the volume of applications, the harder it is to provide a good candidate experience. Commonly the solution is to put recruiters behind a wall and cut off accessibility. It’s not that recruiters don’t want to give individual people the attention and response they deserve, there simply isn’t time in the over worked recruiters day. What these recruiters want is not more candidates, but better candidates who are a closer match to their requirements who they can invest time talking to, and developing relationships with. Quality over quantity.

Speaking with recruiting teams, it’s easy to bemoan the lack of engagement and relationship skills. It’s recruiters who are on the front line, and it’s recruiters who have the pressure to make their hires in a double-quick time, and to even more demanding standards from hiring managers. To find the proverbial needle in a haystack. This is against a background of a call for greater candidate care. It’s the recruiter who carry the can for empty seats, and from their point of view, there’s simply never enough hours in the day for the demands of social recruiting. They have to concentrate on hires now, rather than possible hires future.

It’s been blogged and spoken about quite often that the modern recruiter needs to think like a marketer. Most of the emphasis ha perhaps the has been on talent attraction rather than recruiting, and the better you get at talent attraction the more people reply. I have made myself a bit unpopular in the past with the digital media mafia, by stating that actually, perhaps the real need is to get the marketeers to think more like recruiters. I think Bernard Hodes have done this with the Barclays Future leaders programme.

I’ve spoken in the past with Quezzia Soares, who manages the recruitment marketing for Accenture. One of the things they have had to do is to be brutally honest about what their minimum requirements are for Graduates right at the start. This means telling anyone on their welcome pages that if you don’t have 400 UCAS points, there is no point in applying. The companies I work with have high standards of entry. Without getting in to the morals of this argument, it is the standard. I’m a believer in transparency. If you have no chance of getting a job, I don’t want to do anything to encourage you to apply. It’s just not fair to create false hope. I also think that there is nothing wrong with the message “It’s hard to get a job here. You have to be special to get in. We have high standards. Are you special?”

Recent job seeker research indicates that there’s a bit of apathy out there. People are just fed up of investing time in job applications where they are not going to get beyond the ATS. The jobs they apply for, and despite unemployment applications per person are right down, are those they feel they have a good chance of getting. This means rethinking how many jobs are presented. We’ve spent so much time presenting jobs to sell them, working on marketing copy and branding, that the requirement is buried so deep in the copy it gets lost. Better to put your requirements front and center, it might even raise the flow of qualified applications, while turning off those who don’t fit the bill.

About 6 months ago I was speaking with Andy Hyatt, Digital Director of  Bernard Hodes, and he told me about the work he was doing with colleague Steven Lo’Presti for the graduate recruitment at bankers Barclay’s. The plan was to launch a social media hub within their future leaders career site, to encourage on-going engagement between the graduate intake of recent years, and potential new hires. I’ve been watching the site closely since it’s launch since the middle of last year. It’s less of a career site, and more of a communication center, there’s also an i-phone app with many of the features converted for mobile, and a full mobile site with browser sniffer on entry. All the features a modern career site needs,

When you land on the site from the outside world, you land at The Hub.The Barclay’s Graduate program is titled: “Future Leaders” and the by=line that sums up the site is: “See More.Be More.”  It’s in an easy on the eye corporate blue, and very easy to navigate. The tabs at the top link to the The Graduate Programme, Undergraduate Programme, School Leaver Programme, School Leaver Programme, Events and Applying To Barclay’s. The applying tab explains the process in detail, with a very clear, “What we look for” section. The text at the start reads:

“There are no two ways about it. We have immensely high expectations of everyone who makes it onto the FLDP; and we’re looking for people who can bear the weight of those expectations. In other words, you’ll need ambition and vision every bit as big as ours from the outset.

It perhaps goes without saying that your academic record will be of the highest order (a 2:1 or above and 300 UCAS points to be precise), but becoming one of our future leaders is as much about your employability. Besides a strong academic record and work experience, you’ll need to demonstrate your involvement in extra-curricular activities.”

For me, this is clear and transparent, and like Accenture is saying if you don’t have the UCAS points there is no need to apply. It’s hard to get a job here.but if you get one, it’s going to be great. Think about what it is saying if you get an interview, it’s saying, OK, we think you could be special.

The individual career type tabs each feature a programme overview, and individual department tabs. Behind the departments are a few features I really like is being able to see individual profiles of the recent intake, and the opportunity to shadow them by connecting on LinkedIn or following on twitter, and there’s similar people to connect with behind every department, as well as blogs to follow. Simple but effective peer-to-peer employer branding.

Behind the events tab there’s a “play more” feature, with a game and leader-board, with an opportunity to win tickets to the ATP Grand Slam, based on taking part in an actual game when Barclay’s visit target universities as part of the milkround. I really like activities that link the virtual world with in person recruiting. I’m a big believer that social is physical as well as virtual. Another great initiative like this is labeled “Smile More.” This features some really cool pictures from the campus events, shot in black and white. When the pictures are taken, the students get invited to check back in to the site to view them, reconnecting them with the hiring hub.

Video’s feature throughout the site, with the opportunity to see the people, get video tips on the assessment process and a whole lot more. Visitors can also sign up for the video channel, that features 44 different videos, in multiple places on the site including the landing page and hub, as well as the Facebook page and Twitter feed. Theres also news feeds and twitter feeds in the hub and on the landing page.

Theres a register or log in section which takes you to a micro-site for the division you choose, and an apply button that links you in to the ATS, which is where the social bit ends. Theres no means of exporting detail from LinkedIn or other social profiles. Given that the hub is very social, I’d expect the application to be a bit easier. All details need to be entered, and it takes 16 clicks to get to apply. The jobs behind the application are easy to navigate, without lengthy job specs to wade through. All the information needed to choose which job is available in lots of different formats  according to the visitors choice, so there’s no need for the long-winded spec.

The easy registration means that Barclay’s can capture data and operate a talent network, connecting over relevent content. Whilst I’d prefer this to be via a social registration, it’s a small detail. Everything else on the site is brilliant.

So what has this meant in terms of numbers?

 

> Overall, the campaign has performed well, attracting just over 355,000 visitors to the site since it was re-launched in September 2011– an increase of 51% over last year, who viewed over 1.6 million pages – an increase of 75%. And this without an increase in advertising budget.

>Social media has played a big part in this success: at the time of writing the Twitter channel has picked up just over 470 followers – 477 to be precise, and the Facebook page has been liked by 510 users. The YouTube channel used to serve video content has generated over 17,100 views while the QR codes were scanned over 680 times. And these numbers are rising steadily week on week.

>The visitors that interact with The Hub,  have also proven to be more engaged with the site – proving that social content can attract and retain visitors over paid advertising: they are more likely to stay after viewing the first page (15.9% bounce rate vs. 25.8%), stay for longer on the site (9’ vs. 3’51”), and view, on average, twice as many pages per visit (10.05 vs. 5.01).

> Visits to the site have increased by 51%, applications have decreased by 40% over last year. At first this might seem worrying if not for the fact that the conversion rate between assessment and hire increased by 55%. Ultimate proof that targeted and relevant content can deliver better quality candidates who are also more likely to get hired.

I started this post talking about the need for big brand corporates have to reduce the volume of applications, whilst increasing the quality. What Barclay’s and Bernard Hodes have proved through this case study is that while it might take a bit of work, and you need to enlist the brand advocates from the business to do the engagement and connect with interested people from the target audience. The games run on university visits, leader board and photo features gives the students met on campus a reason to connect with the site and register. The social networking clearly drove traffic to the site without any additional spend.

Clarity of the standard required cuts out the many applications that this type of campaign would normally attract don’t apply. Sharing values, job content, peer-to-peer communication and clear job detail leads to people deselecting themselves from the process, avoiding wasted recruiter time.

Hyatt also commented that the feedback from the recruiters was that those who got through selection were totally committed and much more informed about the opportunity, which explains the significant improvement in the conversion rate. Supporting the candidate with information on resources on the selection and assessment process, greatly improves the candidate experience, and removes the risk of good candidates missing out by making errors in the process. For recruiters, only seeing committed and qualified candidates has to make their job better. It’s not just the candidate experience we need to be thinking about, it’s also the recruiter experience that gets improved by an engaged process.

I want to thank Andy Hyatt and Steven LoPresti of Bernard Hodes for bringing this story to #trulondon, and giving me access to the data for this post. It’s a great story. It is my intention to include at least 6 case studys at each #tru event moving forward, and will be inviting Andy Hyatt out to #truStockholm next month.

Bill

LINKS

Barclays Hub

Barclays FB

Barclays Twitter

Barclays YouTube

Meet Our People Blog

Andy Hyatt

BUY TICKETS FOR #TRUSTOCKHOLM March 28′th - 29′th

Is the “lost generation” a myth?

I took part in the graduate recruiting track and the GenY track at #truManchester. My takeaway from the latter was the feedback from those that fit the stereotype by age, (and not the old people talking about them), was that they would rather not be boxed in to an age bracket definition which dictates what they are capable of and how they think. It is much the same as speculating that all Baby Boomers don’t understand technology and want a job for life. People are people and should be approached as such. The labeling is not helping either to integrate, and none of those present lived at home! You can read more about this at the great blog started by The Twintettes which outlines their view on this.

My biggest eye-opener came in the Graduate Recruitment track. The story I heard was far from what I expected. Martin Edmondson from Graduates Yorkshire, commented that he knew of a number of larger companies that ran Grad Training Programmes that just couldn’t get enough applications. As a result, the programmes are still open when historically they would be long closed by now. This astounded me and was backed up by a few others who operate in the graduate recruitment market or hire graduates.

All the headlines tell me we have a lost generation and that the situation for this years graduates is dire.

Some possible causes for this gap between reality and perception among those graduating are:

  • Negative headlines and reports have led to a belief among students that there is no point. More positive headlines please that reflect reality!
  • This year has seen the highest number of graduates taking up continuing education for another 1 – 2 years. This is because of the belief that there are no graduate opportunities and needing an alternative safe-haven for the next few years. Continuing education can be irrelevant and does not necessarily  lead to greater employability, whilst increasing student debt.
  • Theres a greater number of graduates taking extended “gap years” for travelling, believing there is no point sitting around unemployed as there are no opportunities.
  • Poor links between graduate employers and graduates.

Since #truManchester, I have been looking closer in to this by speaking with interns and graduates I’m connected with and others responsible for graduate recruitment. Theres seems to be a huge disconnect between university career departments and graduate employers. There is not a lot of confidence in either their capability to give real commercial advice or to co-ordinate entry in to the workplace. The top 10 – 20% of graduates that have been courted for some years or go to the right universities are fine, but what of the 80% that sit outside this bracket?
The feedback I get is that University Careers Officers are well-intentioned but lacking in real life experience or reality. The upshot of this disconnect is where we are at now, where there are so many students out of work through apathy or access to opportunity, while graduate programmes are struggling to attract a sufficient volume of candidates to achieve the quality needed.
I thought social media channels might provide the  gateway that enables graduating students to connect with reality and find opportunity. After all, there’s lots of great advice out there in the twitter stream about how to find a job, and it is given freely. This is, after all the connected generation we are talking about!

Just how many of those graduating at this time are active in social media? The lowest percentage of social media users in the USA (couldn’t find the UK figures) according to Google Ad planner is 18 – 24 with 9%. (kind of flies in the face of the Gen Y enabled generation theory.) I would imagine that the UK is not going to be dissimilar.

Sourced from www.pingdom.com

There are some very good graduate communities and websites on-line. Graduates Yorkshire and Brave New talent are two that I’m very familiar with. That is great for those that belong to those communities or sign up, but what of those that are either unaware of the communities or just not using social-media in this way? When we conducted user research for the Oyster Partnership, the majority of younger users were in Facebook only (not twitter) and this was largely for social use and staying connected with a small group of friends. The feedback from #truManchester was that there is still major concerns over privacy which over ride a willingness to post personal detail to Facebook. Perhaps this is where the university career services need to be devoting their efforts, in converting a less than social generation in to using social media in the job search, and picking up on real opportunities rather than reading sensational headlines.

I ran a quick search for graduate opportunities in the UK through the TwitterJobSearch engine that reads 120mn messages a day from 30 social sites and aggregates all the job posts in one place (It’s very neat!). This simple search shows that there are over 3,273 graduate trainee jobs posted to twitter today.
Job aggregator 1job.co.uk are showing 6,282 jobs currently advertised on job boards and career sites.
Jobsite alone have 326 jobs posted for graduate trainee specifically and 1480 jobs requiring either new graduates or graduate level entry candidates.
It is a fair assumption that there may be many duplicates or agency postings amongst these figures, but that’s still a lot of opportunities at a time when we are reading the “lost generation” headlines each day.
I’d like to see the careers advisors from the universities spending time on developing student skills in social-media and on-line in order to find jobs opportunities, track graduate employers and get the most of the application process. The students also share some responsibility in this.

Whilst drafting this blog, I noticed a post from Wendy Jacob (who works in a university), airing her disappointment that come the end of term, the students just disappeared. While she works with the students (and no doubt puts plenty of personal time in), she doesn’t always get the follow-up or interest she deserves. You should read and comment on Wendy’s post. Could be that all the “No Jobs” and “Lost Generation” talk has caused many to give up before they have even started. I think more universities should employ the likes of Wendy, who have real recruiter experience. Her role is all about employability, everything we are talking about here.
In my own experience in sourcing interns for clients from Universities, it has been a real mixed bag of experiences. I have had to really battle to get through the layers of career service and get to talk to someone who can do anything. We get there in the end, but if I was hiring for me, I’m not sure I wouldn’t have given up before I even started. Despite much talk, the universities seem disinterested to organise themselves to talk to potential employers who could provide the gateway in to work.

I’d be interested in your views and experience in this area, and the best way to get the right graduates in to the right jobs. It seems that outside of some excellent on-line communities like Graduates Yorkshire and Brave New Talent, both parties are being poorly served.

Be ambassadors for great recruiting,

Bill

Links Listed In This Post

The Twintettes Blog

Graduates Yorkshire

www.Pingdom.com

Wendy The Recruiter

Brave New Talent

Jobsite

A1jobs

Oyster Partnership Research