The pandemic has changed many aspects of daily life and graduate recruitment is no exception. Traditionally a face-to-face activity, the need for social distancing has forced companies – and especially those running high volume annual recruitment drives - to make big changes to their recruitment methods.
The latest Institute of Student Employers' annual Student Recruitment Survey reveals how the pandemic has disrupted traditional recruitment activities and driven a period of rapid change.
According to the survey, last year, pre COVID, recruiters favoured visits to universities as the most effective way to recruit graduates. Careers fairs, insight or open days, giving talks and workshops and visits to universities all provided opportunities for candidate attraction and allowed for the human element which has traditionally played a big role in recruitment.
This year, like every other activity, recruitment has gone online. Online attraction was rated as the most effective approach with company websites, external job boards and social media marketing topping the bill.
Interestingly, in our experience, smaller recruiters have always prioritised these strategies. SMEs tend to have limited representation at careers fairs and even then, they tend to have a presence via an intermediary such as Gradsouthwest. SMEs have long used their company website and job boards as their favoured recruitment technique, and many local companies have fine-tuned this approach to deliver impressive results.
Only time will tell if the shift online for large companies has created a more level playing field in candidate attraction, although of course, the difference in recruitment volumes and budgets remains.
With careers fairs ruled out by COVID, universities have been experimenting with virtual events. It’s too early to say how effective these are; on an individual candidate level they probably work well but as a way to raise profile, they may be a poor substitute for standing in a busy hall, chatting to the passing footfall.
For now, online recruitment looks here to stay. As a job board that caters largely for SMEs, we have long been convinced of the merits of online attraction but equally, would be sorry to see careers fairs go. People work for people and whilst technology can introduce them, there is something about being in the same room is not easily replaced.
Find out more about the Institute of Employers Student Recruitment Survey