Talking Brand: Is it time to dust off those graduate programmes?

Employer Brand, Attraction, Featured

The impact of Covid-19 has only served to heighten the focus on employer brand. However, one area that's either been overlooked or jettisoned entirely is early careers recruitment. We're about to witness a glut of grads into the job market. Now is the time to court them, not put them on hold.

According to recent statistics released by leading graduate careers site, Milkround, only 18% of this year’s UK ‘s graduates have secured employment. That compares to a typical rate of 60%, and the figures don't get any more inspiring from here on in.

Elsewhere, the Resolution Foundation has warned that the ‘corona class of 2020’, comprising 800,000 school leavers and graduates, face an uncertain future if government intervention is not forthcoming.

The think tank has indicated that up to 600,000 people under the age of 25 could end up seeking unemployment benefits, adding to the 408,000 aged between 18-24 who are currently unemployed.

Alarming reports such as this are almost always guaranteed to generate headlines.

But they needn’t completely shape the narrative.

If anything, businesses should be looking at this as an opportunity to rethink their early careers offerings and appeal to this huge talent pool.

Internships, apprenticeships and graduate programmes have long been championed as great ways for young people to enter the world of work and create positive brand advocacy.

And if your organisation has the means to do so, there are plenty of potential benefits in keeping these programmes front and centre of your recruitment offering.

If you can, do: in response to short-termism

It’s become apparent that not every business will be able to invest scarce time and money into graduate programmes.

Back in March, the Institute of Student Employers reported that over a quarter of businesses are planning to reduce their grad recruitment this year, as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, there are counterpoints to this.

The influx of hungry graduates into the job market presents opportunities for those organisations ready to adapt to hiring in a world shaped by Covid-19.

All is not lost. Virtual internships were discussed, and delivered by the lines of Accenture UK, prior to the global lockdown.

Meanwhile, words such as ‘remote’ and ‘anywhere’ have already become familiar staples amongst job roles being advertised.

3 ways to inspire and engage with graduates

1.      Be creative

Re-think the types of virtual programme you could offer and the experience that will sit around them. Consider 1-week internships, virtual drop-ins with hiring managers and free virtual courses. Automate where possible by creating ‘keep in touch’ content streams for interested applicants or implement Chatbots ready to answer any introductory questions.

Finally, show your candidates the pathways available to them. Make them feel that the remote route is something you’re invested in, not merely a stop-gap hindrance.

2.      Be smart

Audit the content at your disposal and consider the ways it can be leveraged. An employee story on your blog can easily turn into 3-5 soundbites on social, an individual story can be built out into a team story and likewise a 5-minute conversation with a business leader could spawn a ton of ideas.

Held an hilarious virtual quiz or team-bonding exercise? Take a screenshot and showcase your employees laughing and joking together. Is online learning and knowledge sharing a key focus for employees with more downtime than they’d usually have? Capture these moments and bring them to life.

3.      Be visible

Try to be consistent in your offering and don’t tackle too much at once. If your chosen vehicle is a monthly email then commit to that. If it’s a weekly blog from a current grad, or a series of leadership stories, focus on that one thing but stay visible. And think about where your grad audience might hang out – whether that be Tik Tok, Instagram, Reddit etc, meet them on their own terms.

Ultimately, it’s possible to provide something tangible and authentic without being too labour intensive. 

Some useful stuff

Find out which internships have been cancelled – and which ones remain open.

5 tips you can use to land an internship during the Covid-19 crisis

I'll be talking 'The Future of Work and the importance of an authentic EVP' from 10am UK time on June 17. Come join me as I share insights from over 100 HR leaders and discuss the strategic importance of an EVP, as well as the benefits having a strong one will bring to your team.

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