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Attract Top Graduates and Plug the Skills Gap: Grab and Retain the Talent Your Business Needs

With nearly 788,000 higher education qualifications being awarded in the UK in 2013 alone those in HR need to add an edge to their company to grab the top talent. Here are some top tips for HR Directors interested in attracting graduates with Va Va Voom to their company.

HR is a people business. Your KPIs might be as number-driven as anyone else’s, but you know attracting the right people is all about the feel-good factor. Positivity, energy, human warmth. Rapport.

So when it comes to graduate recruitment – the people with the motivation to spend years building up their experience of the workplace, but perhaps new to the world of paid employment – the problem is doubled. Because these people are already keen to progress and take action, while being experts with technology.

The higher the qualification, the higher the expectation. These candidates will be judging you on your ability to engage at their level and looking for a modern enterprise where they can operate on their own terms . Not only will you need to meet their expectations of technology, but you will face the challenge of attracting the right graduates – rather than numerous graduates who can simply make good use of technology.

With over 90% of young graduates in employment, demand for those with degrees is higher than ever.

Could the biggest hurdle be finding the best way to to communicate?

If so, think about these four ideas. You already know how big the gap is between connecting with graduates and attracting them; these tips may help to close it.


1. Talk to them on their channel choices

Today’s grads are part of the Millennial generation. What marks them out is their comfort with technology. They’re using WhatsApp and FaceTime as much as Skype. We’re not saying HR directors should be attracting graduates by swiping right on Tindr, but think beyond the phone and email; interaction via technology comes naturally to them.

So instead of a phone call, try scheduling a video conference. Voice, video, presentations, different locations: you’re positioning your company as a savvy technology user – a boost before you begin, what is more you can reach the graduates you want, regardless of their location, without a series of resource draining interviews. Maximising your graduates’ ability to communicate is essential to plugging the skills gap. They now expect to bring their own devices to work, as well as work remotely. For graduates, BYOD and the freedom to work from where suits them best are just as important as having access to unified communications.

In addition, of course, you’re well placed to pick up on the subtleties of body language you’d otherwise only see in a face-to-face interview.

This lets you think creatively about interview formats. What if you could attract more graduates by offering them short, fifteen-minute interviews via their laptop? Think how many more talented people you could see each week.


2. Extend the scope of your interaction

You can use video conferencing just for chatting. But recent grads are multi-taskers to begin with. Here’s an idea:

Whiteboarding lets you share ideas on screen while you’re talking. Instead of a straight conversation, why not test their creativity by fleshing out a mind-map diagram or SWOT together onscreen? It’s useful and fun, and prevents many of the awkward pauses often heard (rather, not heard) in formal interviews.

You don’t even need to call it an interview. Why not offer graduates a “Skills Review” or “Personality Reveal” via a video conference? You’ll attract more graduates, since you’re giving them something of value and it doesn’t need to be for a specific opening.

You can decide later if they’re the kind of people to interview formally – and they’ll already be on your side.


3. Let graduates time-shift your conversation

Graduates think pushes and notifications, not telephones: they like the flexibility to time-shift communication by a few minutes or hours, letting messages pile up and then dealing with them in bulk. When it comes to attracting graduates, there’s a benefit to thinking the same way.

Let’s say your recruitment process has a few key steps before any face-to-face interview. By offering interactive materials for graduates to snack on – perhaps blow-by-blow presentations about your process or 1-minute interviews with your current employees –  graduates can see whether they’re a good fit. And while they’re checking you out, they’re learning about your company. They will access information about your business across multiple social media channels. They will decide if their career goals will be fulfilled by your business by scoping you out on LinkedIn, and they will check out your Twitter feed to see if they like what you have to say.


4. Don’t interview: meet!

Another thing that marks out today’s grads is that relationships are less formal. (43% of them haven’t read their employee handbook.) The rule might be: don’t interview graduates: MEET them.

Video conferencing makes meeting a lot easier. (Not to mention you can recruit around the world – remember India’s technical schools churn out 3m graduates a year!) Compared to a telephone interview, a video conference can feel more relaxed and informal.

These four ideas are a start in how to attract graduates. But it’s not just about the benefits to them. Seeing how graduates interact with your team members via web conferencing and unified messaging will give you important clues to their collaboration skills. It expands your flexibility to speak to candidates, enabling you to invest the right amount of time in finding the graduate who has the right skills that will benefit your business.

Our takeout point: don’t think interview; think get-together!


  • Attract graduates by communicating on the channels that make sense to them.
  • Think how virtual meetings can keep interactions relaxed and informal
  • Remember you’re dealing with Millennials – be prepared to time-shift!

Adopting a collaborative approach with your candidates is just the beginning. A new eGuide takes it further – applying the pluses of video conferencing and unified messaging to the entire HR function. Download The connected business: Generating a collaborative culture, how to build innovation in your enterprise


About the author

Annemarie, leads and implements the HR strategy across northern Europe at Arkadin Collaboration Services. She is passionate about the role of unified communication in company communications and employee recruitment and retention.

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