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Employer News from GradSift

March 2023







What Will Application Numbers Look Like?


As employers begin attending career fairs, many will be wondering how will our application numbers go.

We analysed the data for domestic student degree commencements from three to five years ago to predict the change in available graduates in 2023. We looked at the three main disciplines of Technology, Engineering and Business.

                       (2023 vs 2022)       (2024 vs 2023)
Technology            +12%                       +8%
Engineering            Flat                          -3%
Business                 -5%                         -6%

As expected the number of technology graduates continues to grow. Available graduates should be up 12% compared to last year. But will this meet overall employer demand?

For employers of Engineering and Business graduates, if you thought last year was tough it doesn't get any better. Engineering graduate numbers will be flat.

But the forecast number of Business graduates continues its decline. Down 5% this year and expected to decline another 6% in 2024.


Candidate Withdrawals/Reneges

At a recent graduate recruitment event, a Gen Z graduate recruiter, new to the role, questioned why it is that we expect final year students to make a career decision in April, ten months before they would even start the job.

It's a great point and an even better insight into how Gen Z thinks. 

Of course that feeds into the issue of increases in job offer reneges and candidates simply abandoning a recruitment process mid-stream. 

So we did some research and here's what we found.

1. Because they can.
After all it's a candidate short-market and there are plenty of options out there.

2. Fear of missing out.
Graduates feel that they may miss out on a better job opportunity if they stop their job search altogether. They may be curious to see what other jobs are available even after accepting an offer.

3. Career growth. 
Graduates may have accepted a job offer for the short-term, but are still searching for a role that better aligns with their long-term career goals. They can continue to look for other opportunities that provide better career advancement, compensation, or a more fulfilling work environment.

4. Job security. 
While a job offer may provide some level of job security, graduates may not be entirely convinced that the job is a perfect fit for them, especially if relocation is involved.

5. Dissatisfaction.
Graduates may realise that the job they accepted is not what they expected, and continue to look for other opportunities that better suit their skills and interests.

Re withdrawing from the recruitment process, all of the above can be causes. But here are the three other leading reasons.

1. The recruiting process takes too long.

2. Their time was disrespected during the recruiting process. For example, being required to spend 60 to 90 minutes to complete an assessment or an application form.

3. Poor communication from the recruiting team.


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. 


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.


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.


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.




We've now seen the rounds of US tech worker layoffs spill over to the Australian market with Atlassian joining the ranks. 

What's interesting is that many of those employers simply brought back their staffing numbers back to pre-Covid levels.

Tech companies significantly increased hiring during Covid to accelerate the business growth they were experiencing. But once Covid restrictions lifted consumers and businesses largely returned to their normal behaviours. The tech companies saw their growth bubble burst. So no need for as many people.

Of course there have also been "growth" companies chasing fast growth while running at a financial loss. Once the ultra-low interest rates ended they had to cut staffing numbers and try to get to a cash neutral position. 

While layoffs have been largely in the tech sector, there has been a spill over to other industries.  Those companies operating on thin margins were exposed once financing costs went up.

At this stage we don't foresee any across-the-board downturn in demand for graduates.  







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