Average candidate applies for 29 different graduate schemes.

Fierce battle for graduate talent.

A report from Oleeo entitled ‘The Must-Know Student Recruitment Trends in the UK for 2019’ has shown that candidates on average, apply for graduate schemes with 29 different UK employers. As a result the number of applicants per graduate scheme has reached an all-time high with companies within the financial and professional services sectors having to deal with over 250,000 applications and other sectors typically receiving applications from 50,000 graduates. The study by Oleeo in collaboration with Universum, reviewed anonymous application data from 3.8 million candidates applying to graduate programmes across the finance, government, professional services, advertising, engineering and retail industries.

Competition is not just tougher for the recruiter, but also the candidate. Three quarters of students are interested in graduate programmes but only one per cent of graduates applying for schemes within finance, advertising and professional services and major retailers were hired in 2018, falling from two per cent the previous year.

These falls can in part be attributed to the fact that 2017 saw the first drop in graduate recruitment in five years (4.9 per cent) and the biggest since 2009.  With fewer graduate jobs to go for, graduates are applying for more than twice as many positions compared with 10 years ago in the hope of increasing their chances of being hired.

“As the chances of reaching the offer stage falls and the number of places available on most graduate schemes decreases, it is clear that graduates are becoming worried about their future prospects,” says Charles Hipps, Founder and CEO at Oleeo. “It’s no wonder that many are responding to this by increasing the number of roles they apply for. This is creating a big challenge for recruiters – who are facing larger volumes of applications to deal with.

“This has left employers in a race against time; they must not only go through all of these applications to find the right quality talent who will fit with their business, but they must secure these graduates ahead of everyone else. Intelligent selection is key here. That means smart recruitment systems that not only score and screen applicants but can also enable employers to ensure candidates are kept engaged and nurtured during the end-to-end application process.”

Claes Peyron, MD at Universum, Nordics and UK, agrees: “When the percentages being hired are so small, candidates will naturally lean towards the first offer they receive – accepting it while they consider their other options – again making companies vulnerable to reneging. To avoid this it is vital that companies are at the top of their recruitment game in terms of how they deal with candidates; every touch point needs to be right.”

Oleeo’s research highlights some areas where employers could easily make improvements, for instance nearly a third (30 per cent) of all graduates abandon the recruitment process mid-application, finding it too lengthy.

However graduate recruiters are making gains in other areas. The gender gap has closed significantly – 58 per cent of all graduate scheme hires were male versus 42 per cent female in 2018. This compares to 69 per cent male and 31 per cent female the previous year. The public sector is the best performer, achieving 50/50 gender equality. The engineering, retail and advertising sectors are still struggling with gender bias – with 70 per cent of graduate scheme places going to men.

Race equality has also improved, with the proportion of black candidates being hired doubling over the past 12 months. However, this group does still only accounts for 6 per cent of total hires. Asian applicants also saw a rise in hire rates in 2018, increasing from 13 per cent to 16 per cent.

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