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Graduate Recruitment Insights & News

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March 2024

Market Update

When employers were asked what were they looking forward to in 2024, a word cloud highlighted the responses with the following dominant themes.

• Innovation
• Process improvement
• Change
• AI

It makes sense given the pressing need for employers to respond to the behaviours and demands of Gen Z.

There’s also a recognition to rethink psychometric assessments for neuro-diverse and low socio-economic status candidates. Combined those groups can account for up 20% of the applicant pool.

For a better understanding of assessments and neuro-diverse candidates take a look at this article https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/rethinking-aptitude-tests-embracing-neurodiversity-applicant-karam/?trackingId=%2F4RNnM2SMzzKYnrNnJnLhQ%3D%3D

Some interesting data from recent employer and student surveys:


• More students are starting their job search in the second half of the year, a flip from pre-Covid times.
• 17% of students accept a job and continue to look for other opportunities.
• There is still a gap in a student’s commercial and professional awareness and their understanding of the employer organisation. This hasn’t changed from five years ago.
• Competition for students remains the key challenge for employers with 47% rating it as a challenge. Interestingly, compared to 5 years ago, employers have made successful inroads to reaching diversity objectives. The number of employers struggling with that has halved.
                       2023   2018
Competition       47%    54%
Diversity             33%   66%
• And a surprise to many was that only 25% of AAGE employers currently use some form of AI in student recruitment.


Expressions of Interest

Are they effective? This was a question posed by an employer. The reality is nearly every employer who offers an EOI directly or through a job board, uses it only as an alert to registrants that their graduate/intern program has opened.

That’s OK. But there is a lot more that could be done. One employer said they have positioned theirs as an Early Talent Community, sharing information with students.

But no-one is reviewing the candidates to see if they have superstars waiting to be reached out to.

Along these lines, an employer shared a talent pool request from their hiring managers. The managers want a year-round pool of quality students, so as an opportunity becomes available (outside of the formal programs), they can just reach out. That’s a great idea but in practice requires HR to review every student.

The only automated solution with no intervention required from HR and direct access for hiring managers is GradSift.

 

January/February 2024

Student Recruitment Collaboration Project

Over the past six months we’ve been working with multiple student teams to relook at the student recruitment experience.

We all get their frustration. Multiple job applications, the time commitment for each assessment, repeating the same assessments for other employers, however many video interviews, little feedback and only a 3% chance of being hired into a large employer program. There’s a limit to the number of programs or job ads anyone will apply to.

As one student said, “there needs to be a hub or pool where all interns and grads go and potential employers look for them, not the other way around”.

In collaboration with students, we came up with GradSift Talent. It’s an employment platform (not a job board) that flips student recruitment on its head. Think LinkedIn , except designed for students and graduates. No job application, just a single registration, ready to be discovered by employers.

Underpinning it is GradSift’s AI technology. Already used by government and corporate employers for their internal student programs, it’s proven, transparent and supports diversity.

Employers, large or small, discover students in real time using our advanced matching algorithm and comprehensive user profiles. They decide who is a good fit and reach out. No sifting through hundreds of applications.

It just makes sense, doesn’t it?

We’re already into our student awareness campaign. But here’s a call out to recruiters and university careers advisors. Most people are happy to recommend LinkedIn as a resource to students. We hope that will now extend to GradSift Talent, as a specialist career resource for students and graduates.

Here’s another insight from our student teams.

When unsuccessful job applicants receive the generic “reject” email regardless of how encouraging it is, it leaves them flat. But what if the employer included practical suggestions to help in their career?

Our student teams proposed employers refer their unsuccessful applicants to "take a look" at GradSift Talent. Not as an endorsement but as a resource referral. A single sentence at the end of the reject email that gives them hope, lifting their confidence and importantly their appreciation of the employer.

When you think about it, it’s simple but so powerful. And it needn’t be about GradSift Talent. It could be anything.

LinkedIn made it easier for professionals to be found by employers. GradSift Talent is doing the same for students and graduates.
https://au.gradsift.com/gradsift-talent/

December 2023

 

Gen Z Application Drop-Offs

Research by Bullhorn of a 1,000 US Gen Z workers shows the majority (85%) concur that the entire job search and placement process is outdated, resulting in two out of five abandoning an opportunity between application and interview, and one in three giving up before even submitting an application.

What are the symptoms employers experience:
• Not enough applicants
• Up to 40% drop-offs at psychometric assessment
• Falling short on hires
• Frustrated hiring managers
• Stress from any or all of the above

When more than 20% of applicants are dropping out at any assessment stage, it’s a red alert signal for a recruiter.

Here’s a visual example of what happens to an employer receiving 3,000 applications but finding the applicant drop-off from the initial psychometric assessment jumps from a normal 15% to 40%.

It reduces the pool of available candidates by 30%. This inevitably flows through to fewer hires. There are plenty of employers who can attest to this.

But it is fixable.

So what stops HR from doing something about it? It’s usually not knowing what else to do. Or fear that if they do make a change, it doesn’t work.

So how do you balance the need for change and perceived risk? The safest solution is to do a pilot project. It’s a concept widely used across many sectors including engineering and technology. But equally applicable to student recruitment.

The benefits of a pilot project are:
• Innovation is trialed in a controlled environment
• Results are measured and clearly evaluated versus the current approach
• Stakeholders understand and agree to any potential risks
• ICT/systems integrations are not expected for a pilot

For employers experiencing high applicant drop-offs or frustrated hiring managers, GradSift should be top of mind for a pilot project.

• An award-winning, multi-criteria assessment platform with video included.
• Mobile friendly for students with up to 95% completions.
• Time efficient for students taking just 10 to 15 minutes.
• Hiring managers empowered to customise shortlists.
• Easy for recruiters – managed inhouse or by GradSift.

There are many options to run a pilot. An intern or vacationer program. A business unit that’s ready for innovation. Or when you’re forced to go back-to-market.

And if you don't want to pilot GradSift, try something else. It has to be better than doing more of the same.

 

 

November 2023

What Does the Future of Graduate Recruitment Look Like?

At the recent AAGE graduate recruitment conference many people were wondering what the future of student recruitment would look like. Here’s our snapshot from what we heard.

Go back five years to 2018, graduate recruitment was all about making life more efficient for recruiters. There was a surplus of candidates and most students would jump through all of the assessment hoops. If they didn’t, there were others ready to take their place. Covid accelerated the adoption of digital interviews, making the interview process even more efficient for recruiters. (But maybe not when it comes to evaluating all those videos).

Today, the student market is different. Fewer candidates, who are very selective with their time. They now have the power and their user experience matters. What we’re seeing today is the start of a structural shift, which will focus on a much improved student experience.

So what about in five years time, in 2028?

1. User experience dominates.
The way of the future will definitely be an easier and streamlined experience for applicants. A simpler recruitment and assessment process, with few steps, completed on a mobile device.

It’s not just the applicant user experience either. In a world where fewer quality candidates make it through to shortlist stage, hiring manager experience is just as important. Giving them a greater to say on who they want to interview.

2. An arm wrestle with AI.
AI will make it even easier for candidates to apply for roles (maybe even to help in their assessments?).

Have you heard about AI apps that facilitate bulk job applications? We’re talking hundreds of applications where ai does all the work, including finding the appropriate jobs and completing the application.

Right now, the apps are used for general employment, targeting major job boards like LinkedIn and Indeed. But, what happens when someone develops/modifies an app for graduate/intern recruitment? And instead of LinkedIn, they can apply through graduate job boards or even your own organisation’s job portal. Yikes! Now that will make screening even more important.

Some students will use AI to do bulk applications. While for those who personally apply, they won’t accept a time-consuming process with multiple steps. Even if an economic downturn causes a surplus of graduates and gives power back to employers, the fundamental behaviour and expectations of students won’t change. The future is a shorter and faster assessment process.

3. We may see the emergence of whole-of-government style programs for the private sector.
Whole-of-government programs have already been adopted by Federal and State government employers. One department manages a program, eg. Australian Bureau of Statistics for data analysts and scientists, to attract, assess and shortlist candidates. Other government agencies then tap into the shortlisted pool. It makes it easier for candidates completing a one-off application and assessment to then be considered by multiple employers. In a similar way, GradSift supports the Queensland whole-of-government digital graduate program.

There are very early discussions of collaboration by private sector employers to create pre-qualified talent pools for specific disciplines/role types.

4. Hiring throughout the year will become common utilising ai and other technologies.
We also foresee programs that will continue to morph beyond graduates and interns to include candidates with different levels of education and experience.

 

October 2023

Unmasking Catalysts for Change

Organisations embrace change because it's an inherent necessity for growth, adaptation, and survival in a dynamic and competitive environment.

Pain points, often stemming from challenges, inefficiencies, or shifting market demands, serve as powerful motivators for change. That’s what many in graduate recruitment are experiencing now.

But the cause of the pain isn’t always immediately obvious. They’re often masked as symptoms. Gen Z’s behaviour, high assessment drop-offs, increased renege rates, frustrated managers asking “but who else do you have”?

They can be symptoms of the real pain point: a recruitment and assessment process that doesn’t meet the needs of all stakeholders. Specifically, candidates and hiring managers.

In a candidate rich market, the candidate experience wasn’t a concern. In fact, it was overlooked for recruiter efficiency. While there were more than enough candidates for managers to pick and choose the best fits for their teams.

But in a candidate short market user experience matters. How to redesign the recruitment and assessment process for a positive user experience for candidates and hiring managers?

A small number of employers have already moved to streamline the number of assessment steps for candidates. While some have listened to hiring managers recognising that a standard assessment profile doesn’t work for every role or team. Those managers want greater say over the assessment criteria for their unique roles.

It’s consistent with the theme of the AAGE conference; ‘time to explore unconventional pathways to attract, engage, select and retain talent”.

The graduate recruitment sector is experiencing the pain. Now is the time to embrace change.

 

 

September 2023

Generative AI and Student Recruitment

Of course the implications of generative AI continue to dominate discussion around the student/graduate recruitment process.

What are they? Anything in an application or assessment that is text based or relies on language learning models is at risk of manipulation. From resumes and cover letters, to the text responses from video interviews, even to psychometric assessments.

It's not just what will happen in the future. We’ve already heard from one employer who found more students “passing” a particular video interview assessment. When they looked at the student details, the results didn’t match up. The suspect? Chat GPT prompting the "correct" answers.  

On a scarier note, there's emerging technology that showed a video interviewee who looked steadily at the camera. Yet they were not looking at the camera at all. The technology made it appear so while they read out a generated response to the interview question. It was freaky.

Recruitment technology and assessment vendors are trying to catch up. It's recognised that written language assessments are highly susceptible to AI-generated responses and candidates may use LLMs (Language Learning Models) like ChatGPT to complete their assessments.  

What’s the solution? It may be a return to in-person assessments or where the assessment environment is strictly controlled.

How does it affect GradSift?

Unlike other assessment platforms that rely on text interpretation and language models, GradSift takes a fundamentally different and more secure approach. Our assessment system is designed to provide objective evaluations that are immune to manipulation or bias, preserving the integrity and fairness of the assessment process.

Employers can rest assured the assessment is objective.

 

August 2023

AI Enabled Student Sourcing

GradSift Talent: A ground-breaking AI enabled sourcing platform for employers. Target and efficiently connect with students and graduates based on the calibre of candidate you’re seeking.

Blanket email blasts are great for volume. But result in too many applicants who are simply the wrong fit!

No need to sift through hundreds or thousands of applications. Or pay for expensive psychometric and video assessments just to screen out the wrong applicants.

AI enabled sourcing.

  • Cost effective and efficient for employers.
  • A better candidate experience for students. 
  • A win-win for everyone.

https://au.gradsift.com/gradsift-talent/

 

July 2023

Free Empower Me AI tool for Students

GradSift launches free AI assessment tool, Empower Me for students.

Everyone likes constructive feedback. But for students that never comes if they’re rejected at the application stage. So we developed Empower Me, a free AI tool for students and recent graduates. It unlocks insights into how employers assess their background.

It's easy to use. Select a benchmark role eg. Accounting Intern and go!

 https://au.gradsift.com/applicant/empowerme/

 

June 2023

Learnings from US Graduate Recruitment

One of the interesting insights is how the graduate recruitment process differs between the US and Australia. Naturally both have the same objective. But achieve it in very different ways.

In the US, the typical assessment process is for recruiters to review applications followed by two rounds of behavioural interviews. Then an offer.

Typically, it takes two weeks from the first interview to offer.

Contrast that to the multiple assessments and stages that Australian employers put students through.
 
So what’s different about the US process? Employers start by marketing only to “quality” applicants. They do that by selectively choosing which universities they will recruit from, with the reputation of the university acting as a proxy for student quality. 

In turn, universities invest heavily in managing their brand reputation to attract leading employers and of course students who recognise the strong employment prospects associated with the university.
 
While the process is great for recruitment efficiency, the glaring downside is lack of diversity. Not every student gets to attend a top university. The consequence is that too many strong students are never considered in the first place. American employers understand it’s an issue but there’s still a long way to go.

Australian employers on the other hand recruit from any university. But then apply multiple assessments to filter and find the quality candidates. It’s a much more expensive and time-consuming process than their US counterparts. But it does open up applications to students from any university.

What can Australian employers learn from the US?

The US model demonstrates that if an employer identifies “quality” candidates upfront, two rounds of behavioural interviews is all that’s needed to make a hiring decision. One interview with a recruiter, the second with a hiring manager. 

US employers rarely use assessment centres, psychometric assessments or even video interviews.

It offers an opportunity to rethink the local recruitment process. Finding a way to identify quality candidates at the first assessment stage can simplify and shorten the whole process, as well as achieve substantial cost savings.

Graduate recruitment doesn’t need to be complicated to be effective. It sounds very much like GradSift.

 

May 2023

Gen Z Insights


Social Media Platforms

Here’s a great webinar presented by a US Gen Z early careers influencer, Jade Walters. https://vimeo.com/821416901/95ec31a87f?

Interestingly, she says that if you only posted on two platforms, they should be LinkedIn and Tik Tok. The reason she recommends LinkedIn is because students use it to learn about careers, employers and career paths.

Instagram came in third because “it’s in decline”. Note – Facebook never even had a mention.

Gen Z Recruitment Process Compatibility

We know that Gen Z wants a simpler recruitment process, with fewer steps and less time commitment.

So it’s great to see some employers embracing that. We’ve recently seen employers do away with assessment steps like psychometric assessments, video interviews and assessment centres.

They have been replaced with less time intensive assessments and more interview time.

The old funnel process of "online application, multiple psychometric assessments and video interview" before any personal contact is starting to look outdated.

Authenticity

Mary Scott https://www.linkedin.com/in/mary-scott-0781908/ is a US graduate recruitment expert who conducts regular research into students and their recruitment experiences.

Her most recent findings identify a key differentiator of graduate employers and their opportunities. It's how students are treated during their job search and recruitment process. She defined that as how effective the overall process was and the relationship (the impression) built between the student and employer.

When students were asked what made an employer both impressive and effective, the answer was “They made me believe they were interested in ME”.

The most impressive and effective employer was rated as high as 8.7 out of 10, while the low end scored 4.1.

While there are multiple factors that influence the rating, a key is the skill level of the front-line employer representatives (graduate recruiters, hiring managers etc).

For many people, being a relationship builder (meeting new people and quickly building rapport and trust) doesn't come naturally. They might be good at the transactional elements of the recruitment process. But do they have the relationship skills that students want to see?

 

April 2023

Chasing Up Applicants

Career fairs have just finished. Employers have invested considerable resources to attract, sell to and build relationships with students. In such a competitive market, the waiting game now makes for a tense time for employers. Will they attract enough of the strongest candidates? Has the expression of interest generated quality candidates? Will student enthusiasm wane for employers who don’t open applications until mid-year?

If there is one truth in this market, employers cannot afford to sit back and hope for the best. If a candidate has applied or registered their interest with your organisation, you need to follow up.

Students need to be prompted and reminded.

Last year we all witnessed students dropping out of the recruitment process at various stages. Remember the employer who lost 40% of their applicants because they didn’t want to complete a 90 minutes battery of psychometric assessments?

It’s no different this year. Already we’ve seen clients find 25% of their applicants started but did not complete the assessment process. But with multiple follow ups, a combination of automations and old-school email and text, that reduced to less than 5%. That’s an impressive result and is in line with the historical proportion of applicants who simply change their mind about an employer.

But the message is this. Be prepared to work hard and chase applicants to complete each assessment stage. Most will respond. It’s the generation we’re now dealing with.

 

March 2023

An Inconvenient Truth

Hiring managers are crying out for candidates for their graduate and intern roles. HR says we can’t find them. The likely truth is they’re already in the company’s system. 




When it comes to screening and shortlisting for high volume intern and graduate roles, we know it’s an imperfect process. So many applications, not enough resources and shortlisting tools with their own shortcomings. It’s inevitable that strong candidates get rejected. 

But does it need to be that way? We take a look at where potential student hires are slipping through the cracks. 

Bias
You can start with manual resume review skimming. That’s where a recruiter makes a quick reject decision on superficial data, without a full resume review. (The worst example is when it's based on the candidate's name).

There’s the risk of unconscious bias, especially with inexperienced recruiters who lack proper training. About 60% of student recruiters are new to their role. Often they’re adhering to a cookie-cutter screening format. A strong candidate falls outside that and they’re an immediate no. It carries over to phone screening interviews and video assessments.   

But there’s also the intentional bias used by employers. Some choose to target specific universities. Or reject applicants because of their grades without considering any other factors.

Psychometric assessments
Psychometric assessments do reject strong candidates. Of course they have their place in candidate evaluation but they’re far from perfect. Yet there are recruiters who justify their decision to reject applicants as if the assessment result is absolute and without consideration of any other candidate data.
 
Unfortunately, strong candidates who’ve previously been unsuccessful in psychometric assessment may self-select and opt-out altogether from applying to another employer using that assessment.

Technology
Using technology to search for key words in a resume or the transcript of a recorded video interview. Some students are coached in key word resume stuffing to beat the algorithm.

But what about those candidates who don’t play the game? Or those who are unaware that key words matter for some AI based interview assessments? Or whether the algorithm recognizes gender word preference? For example, two students both on the same leadership committee. One describes their role as a leadership role, the other a committee member.

The reality is that strong candidates are being missed.

Recorded video 
It does save time for a recruiter. But in student recruitment with hundreds of videos to watch, there is a really big temptation for short-cuts.

How to rationalize rejecting a candidate after only fifteen seconds of the video. 

  • An untidy room in the background
  • Low lighting
  • Their outfit isn’t interview appropriate
  • They’re reading from a script
  • They mess up the first question.

These are all real reasons given by graduate recruiters. All without knowing the circumstances of the candidate. Or without the benefit of an experienced recruiter rephrasing a question to help the candidate perform at their best.

You know if it was a real interview some of those candidates would make it through to meet the hiring manager and be offered a role.

Assessment criteria
Then there are the assessment and selection criteria used by recruiters to shortlist candidates. Yet at times hiring managers place little value on those assessments and would prefer to use alternative criteria they consider more relevant to their role.

For example,

  • An Australian tax partner from a global accounting firm was repeatedly frustrated with the shortlisted candidates he received from the internal recruiters. He resorted to personally reviewing resumes of candidates who were close but missed HR’s shortlist. It was from that group he selected candidates to interview and subsequently hire.
  • In another organization HR stopped using psychometric assessments to screen candidates. At the completion of their graduate campaign they found they hired 32% more candidates from their applicant pool. Managers subsequently told HR they never considered the psychometric assessment results in their hiring decisions. They valued other candidate data.
  • Or in the highly competitive market for technology students, an employer hired a remarkable 21% of their applicant pool. How? HR provided hiring managers with access to all of the candidate information. Each manager had the flexibility to decide which selection criteria was most important for their role and then choose who to interview. It was recognising that "one size" does not fit all.

Application window
Finally, we can’t ignore an inflexible recruitment process. One that won’t consider strong candidates who for whatever reasons, missed the application closing date. More lost potential hires.

That's why there's a shift for employers to reopen applications after the main recruitment campaign closes.

Conclusion
The point is, which we all acknowledge under our breath:

There are really strong candidates managers would hire, if given the chance. 

Most times those candidates are already in the system. But they're rejected along the way.

It’s because of an historical recruitment process designed for a candidate-rich market, that trade-offs good hiring outcomes for process efficiency.

Some organisations have got it right. But for most it leaves their hiring managers (the internal customers of HR) still crying out for candidates to fill their roles.

They just need to look.

 

February 2023

Using a Talent Pool

The concept of graduate talent pools keeps popping up and seems to be a hot topic right now. It makes sense as going in to 2023, every employer is wondering, will we be able to make our hiring numbers.

 

Can employers make more hires using a talent pool? Definitely.

In a market where students now look at opportunities throughout the year, it's a must-have.

The premise behind any talent pool is to leverage the strength of the employer brand.

In graduate recruitment employers invest in multi-channel marketing campaigns - advertising, career fairs, campus events and campaigns, website content etc. Then there is word-of-mouth, referrals from past and current employees, even the posts on Whirlpool forums, which all contribute to building a graduate employer brand.

In general advertising we know the communication message can stay with a consumer well after an advertising campaign finishes. The same applies to graduate recruitment marketing. Marketing doesn't stop working when a graduate (or intern) program closes. The message stays with students.

So while some students may not apply to the program, a subsequent trigger event may prompt them to take a closer look. (A referral, an online post, organisation or sector news, a change in personal circumstance etc.)

Except if the program is closed and there's no opportunity to apply or register interest, the candidate is missed. The investment in the graduate employer brand has done its job to create interest. But if there's no mechanism to capture the candidate details, it hasn't been fully capitalised.

That's where talent pools play their part.

But it's not just collecting expressions of interest before a program opens. Many employers already do that and simply email registered applicants that the program is now open.

It's more important to open the talent pool after the program closes. In fact, immediately after. That's when the employer branding effort is still fresh in the minds of students. But keep it open right up until the time the new graduates or interns are ready to start.

Talent pools and expressions of interest do not commit the employer to formally assessing applications. They're positioned as "register your details and if a suitable role becomes available, we will contact you".

How many applicants could an employer be missing out on by not using some form of talent pool?

We think it could be another 20%.

For an employer receiving 1,000 direct applications to a program, there may be another 200 who would have applied outside the program open dates. Assuming a hire rate of 5% of applications, in this example it would mean another 10 hires.

Talent Pool Platforms
The applicant tracking system is the most common platform for talent pools. It's there, available and talent acquisition teams already use it as a generic talent pool.

In graduate recruitment the challenge for an employer is making a timely connection with a strong candidate. That means determining the quality of each applicant and where they could be a potential fit. But going through applications takes time.

Invite them to do a psychometric test? Maybe. But how many would complete it? For students it needs to be a simple process. So it’s understandable employers see it as becoming all too hard.

The best choice for a talent pool is the GradSift shortlisting platform.

Why? Employers instantly see the quality of an applicant without opening a resume. And that's by type of role, even location. That makes it easy to quickly respond to the best candidates.

For students it's ten minutes to complete a GradSift profile from drop-down fields with no resume upload.

For a recruiter it's spending 60 seconds once a week to view the latest candidates and choose whether to make contact. It's as simple as that.

Of course there’s a lot more employers can do with GradSift. Identify applicants by availability, previous employers, gender and diversity. Ask their own screening questions or ask applicants to upload a resume and record a short video. There's even a Hiring Manager View function where managers decide who to bring forward. 

GradSift makes a talent pool simple for recruiters and students. 

 

 ble for apprentice roles, entry-level roles, whole-of-government programs and merit pools. [new]

Do I really have to watch every video?
We know that's a huge pain. On other platforms, the answer is yes. But in GradSift candidates are already ranked according to your criteria. Have a life! There’s no need to sit through countless recorded video interviews.

We don't have internal resources to manage high-volume recruitment
No problem. GradSift provides outsourced recruitment services using the platform for you. [new] A big saving and faster compared to a traditional RPO.

Budget constraints
If you use psychometric assessments to screen applicants hold onto your seat. GradSift is priced from $4 per applicant. That includes the video function.

Interested in seeing how GradSift will save time, cost and help you deliver more quality candidates? Watch the video or email peter@gradsift.com to schedule a walk-through demo.