Top graduate recruiters: The inside track

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We asked some of the UK's top employers how they attract, onboard, retain and engage graduates

Graeme Whiteford, UK graduate development lead, BAE Systems

How do you onboard graduates and maintain engagement throughout the process?

We have an in-house recruitment team dedicated to recruiting apprentices and graduates. They on-board candidates through regular correspondence and social media groups, which helps recruits to bond before they start their employment. Then specialist early careers professionals carry out a comprehensive induction programme delivered over several days. This is designed to inspire and motivate the graduates, provide the necessary tools for the job and help them to transition seamlessly into the workplace.

What’s unique about your approach?

We use a strengths-based rather than a competency-based approach, which allows us to identify interests and predict future strengths instead of evidence past performance. This means we can spot passion and ability and a genuine insight into candidate potential.

Louise Farrar, head of student recruitment, PwC

How do you onboard graduates and maintain engagement throughout the process?

From the moment an offer is accepted, new joiners get access to an online onboarding portal. This provides content tailored to the area they are joining to help improve their understanding of the role. They are also assigned a ‘buddy’. This focus before the person has started aims to manage their expectations. We look to continuously improve our new joiners’ experiences and survey them throughout to understand where we could make changes. For example, we have recently changed our graduate inductions. Decreasing time in the classroom, graduates now attend a full day volunteering activity, to help build team skills and demonstrate an element of care to society, which is aligned to our core values. We’re also engaging with new joiners through technologies such as interactive mobile apps and gamification.

What makes them want to stay?

Lots of things, including the culture and firm’s values, the opportunity to work with world-leading clients, career progression, the firm’s investment in technology and creating a positive working environment, and training and development.

Naomi Blackbourn, resourcing specialist, BBC

What’s on offer to graduates?

We offer trainee schemes within our production, technology, journalism, communications and legal teams. Each scheme is designed to give all successful applicants a hands-on and immersive experience within their designated area, and the advice and skills they need to excel in the role.

Why do graduates want to work for you?

Joining one of our entry-level schemes is a great opportunity to be a part of something that reaches so many people across the UK and the world. We find the BBC attracts people bursting with fresh ideas, and who are fascinated by the world around them.

What makes them want to stay?

It may sound like a cliché, but no day is ever the same at the BBC. Regardless of which area you’re allocated to, you’ll be working on real projects with senior colleagues and helping to create or support BBC content which is known across the world.

Melis Melikoğlu, global recruitment manager, Unilever

How do you reach out and connect with the graduate market?

We have a wide range of channels to reach students, including campus events, virtual campus events, as well as engaging them through social media; LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat are some of our main channels.

What’s unique about your approach?

We use the most sophisticated digital journey in the market for graduates, from gamification to digital interviews, to a one-day immersive discovery centre where they can experience real-life working scenarios in Unilever. Our digital journey is distinctive, unique and pioneering in grad selection.

Charlotte Carter, head of graduate recruitment, KPMG

Why do graduates want to work for you?

Graduates at KPMG can expect to work in a challenging and stimulating environment, working with some of the brightest minds to help deliver innovative approaches and added insight for our clients, communities and colleagues. It’s an environment where disruptive technologies are embraced and where collaboration is a way of life.

And as a graduate, you can expect real responsibilities, opportunities to grow professionally, access to world-class training resources (including KPMG’s The Academy), support for professional qualifications, access to support networks and extensive benefits.

What’s unique about your approach?

In 2016, we transformed our recruitment process, introducing Launch Pad. This innovative approach saw the final stages of the recruitment process condensed into a one-day event. With up to 300 candidates attending each event, Launch Pad gives students the opportunity to meet lots of KPMG colleagues from partners to graduate trainees, to help them make the decision about whether they want to work with us. They also receive the hiring outcome and detailed feedback within two working days of attending the event.

Further reading

The changing face of grad recruitment

The Graduate Survey: exclusive results

Want to know how your organisation fared in The Graduate Survey? Request your bespoke report at: bit.ly/GradSurveyHR

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