Institute of Student Employers (ISE) and Debut decided to partner on a research project to investigate what questions employers wanted the answers to from students, and then to ask students to answer them.
What do students want? is based on various surveys conducted in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and highlights students and jobseekers’ experiences of the jobs market and recruitment process.
Michele Trusolino, Co-founder & CEO of Debut has commented on the research, saying: “2020 has been challenging for employers, but even more so for the students. The normal stressors and anxieties of the transition from education to work have been magnified by the biggest disruption most have ever seen. It is this backdrop that we felt hearing the voices of students was even more important than ever. We all work in the early careers space as we feel an affinity and responsibility for the next generation. It is now more important than ever that we help, motivate and inspire the leaders of tomorrow. We hope that this report will give you the tools to make 2020 a year where we help students achieve success despite all the challenges.”
Stephen Isherwood, Chief Executive at the ISE has commented on the study saying: “The Covid-19 crisis will impact how students and employers talk to each other about jobs in the months to come. This important research tells employers that students are hungry for information, what they want to know and how they want to be reached. Employers have a big role to play in helping students deal with a difficult jobs market.”
Overview of survey results
1. How are young jobseekers thinking about and planning for their career?
- 57% of respondents say that their ideas about their career have changed since the start of the pandemic
- 42% reported that they were confident that they would find the job they wanted quickly after leaving education
Young jobseekers are taking a proactive approach in their career planning, however, are concerned about the current climate. They worry that the situation may stand in their way of finding a job and many are rethinking their futures.
- What is important to them when they are choosing a job?
- Young jobseekers/students would like to see organisations that let them have it all
- 98% say the most important factor when choosing a job is that the organisation will treat them fairly
- 73% of respondents said that working with people like themselves is important
They would ideally like to work for organisations that provide them with the opportunity to ‘have it all’. This includes good career opportunities, work/life balance, interesting work, decent pay and the opportunity to work in an ethical organisation.
3. What sources of information are they using and finding helpful?
- 91% of young jobseekers said they would find face-to-face work experiences helpful but also said they wanted access to easily available online information
- 90% said that job boards and careers websites were helpful
Students and job seekers are using a combination of online and face-to-face sources and want to have access to both deep learning opportunities (like work experience and placements) and just-in-time information (like information posted to jobs boards).
- How should employers communicate with them?
- 37% agreed that employers should communicate with them through blogs, 36% through Instagram, 33% through Twitter and 28% through Facebook
- The message is clear – respondents are ‘lukewarm’ to being contacted through social media
- The most positive form of communication was via email and LinkedIn, with 95% and 90% respectively, in agreement with these channels
Students and young jobseekers are open to a range of forms of communication, however, are sceptical about employers encroaching into more personal forms of communication such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
- What do they want to hear from employers?
- Jobseekers are hungry for information. They want to hear about the recruitment process, gain information about which recruiters were looking for in applications and more
- Career, training and social opportunities within the organisation are also a priority and to hear what it’s like to work there from current employees
- Whether an organisation is committed to voluntary, charity and community work was a key interest to the respondents.
Students and jobseekers want to know about the recruitment process, how it works and how to succeed in them. They also want to know what it’s like to work in the organisation and in the long term, what opportunities will be presented to them.
- How do they feel about different assessment approaches?
- There is a general preference for face-to-face approaches to recruitment, however, the difference between virtual and face-to-face wasn’t too big.
- 91% said they were comfortable taking part in face-to-face interviews while 86% still said they were comfortable with online interviews
Respondents said they are broadly comfortable with all the main recruitment approaches and are happy to switch to online recruitment when necessary. Worryingly, around a third of students and jobseekers don’t trust employers to treat them fairly in the recruitment process.
- How are they feeling about starting work?
- 93% of respondents were happy to be starting work from home if needed to
- 94% agreed that they were excited to be starting work overall
While students are worried about finding a job, they are generally positive about starting work and are welcoming the change to virtual approaches. They are happy to participate in virtual inductions and are willing to kickstart their career from home.
Stephen Isherwood, Chief Executive, at the Institute of Student Employers (ISE) has commented on the study saying: “The Covid-19 crisis will impact how students and employers talk to each other about jobs in the months to come. This important research tells employers that students are hungry for information, what they want to know and how they want to be reached. Employers have a big role to play in helping students deal with a difficult jobs market.”
Many of our working and studying environments have changed dramatically, with the boundaries between work and home becoming increasingly blurred. These changes make for a fluid situation where tried and tested approaches to student recruitment may need to be rethought.
Overall, the report tells us that students are feeling pretty positive during what is such a difficult time. The general consensus is that finding work is a worrying prospect, however, they are keen to do so and eager to engage with employers through the recruitment process with virtual changes, induction and beyond to make the best of the current situation.