I didn’t know Mars needed chemists. After all, it was chocolate, what was scientific about that? The recipe didn’t seem to change. I should know, I’ve eaten enough Mars bars to have been accused of a “fast metabolism”. My Mars bar to weight ratio is high – I consumed Mars bars like they were going out of fashion. I kept pushing the boat out in an attempt to be experimental. How many Mars do I need to eat before I put on a pound? Obscene stuff.
It was with surprise that I discovered Mars required chemists. I was ‘opping around the internet one day, minding my own business, when I discovered this surprising little nugget of information. So I applied. I was curious. How could my ability to explain the bonding in Oxygen help develop better chocolate? I never found out as the axe of automated death wielded not long after application in the form of an email. I would’ve eaten them out of house and home anyway, so it is probably for the best.
Oliver Wheaton wrote in Monday’s Metro that the bleak, bleak picture formerly known as graduate recruitment is now seeing the light. Last year, vacancies remained UNFILLED. Yea, that’s right. In a day an age where even my four year old daughter has a degree from nursery in Play Doh studies (that’s a PdH, not a PhD), organisations are unable to fill their vacancies! Madness. Is this because of a sudden surge in demand, and a sharp decrease in supply of graduates (after all, those pesky tuition fees had to impact student numbers sooner or later)? Or, something more sinister?
The sector that had the most unfilled vacancies was IT and Telecommunications. This tallies up with anecdotal evidence we have come across with Kloodle. Companies tend to have two issues. Either their graduate recruitment schemes are wildly oversubscribed, or they can’t attract enough applicants. The sector organisations struggle to fill tends to be, yes you guessed it, IT.
I would like to draw analogy against my experience with Mars. Many of the Times Top 100 graduate employers, who tend to be the subject of graduate recruitment surveys, are consumer brands. People know them. They are kind of a big deal. Their branding is so strong that people have an instant and clear picture of what that organisation “does”. Mars makes chocolate, PwC does accounts, Rolls Royce makes engines. Why would any of these companies need IT graduates? Its not what they “do”.
Trouble is, they are exactly the type of graduates these organisations need.
The strength of brand is detrimental to the applications they receive. Graduates simply do not associate certain companies with IT, chemistry, advertising, etc etc. These companies, as a result, receive less applications for these schemes. Vicki Spindler, Graduate Program Manager at Tesco alluded to the challenge of perception at last week’s Social Media in Graduate Recruitment conference. “Graduates think, if they apply to Tesco, that they will be stacking shelves. That couldn’t be further from the truth. A graduate role with such a large organisation is varied and interesting, offering many challenges”. This perception reduces the amount of applications Tesco receives for some of its schemes, and hence leaves vacancies unfilled.
In his article, Oliver Wheaton also cites a growing trend in students declining offers. This occurs late in the cycle, and leaves recruiters toothless in their ability to counteract. The graduate recruitment cycle now happens so early. Applicants can be holding an offer from an employer for months on end. Is it during this time that candidates lose interest and decline their offer, preferring something newer and more glitzy? We are, after all, living in the age of immediate gratification.
Do we have a solution to these problems? How can we get people thinking about Mars’ chemist requirements as opposed to munching their delicious chocolate? The answer lies in effective and regular communication. We have unparalleled access to communication tools. Social media allows us to reach people like never before. Recruiters should be using these powerful tools to engage and build relationships with the best graduate talent early and with consistency.
And once they are captured? How do we stop them from leaving? Like any impetuous 18 year old male example illustrates, if you do not communicate “after the event”, you leave the individual alone, feeling unloved, and uncared for. Once you have them, you have to keep them. Effective communication is the key. How do you do this? Show that you care. Create a communication strategy that ensures you are regularly communicating with your new recruits. Get them excited. Have taster days. Share videos with them of all the exciting things that are going on in your office. Get them to buy into your culture. Make them feel a part of it long before they have joined your organisation. Relationships rely on communication. Are you doing enough?
Graduates want to get excited about their future opportunities. Are you exciting them to apply to your organisation? Do IT Grads know that they can have a challenging and impactful career at your consumer brand company? Do chemists know that you are more than a chocolate bar? And are your new future employees at the point of explosion they are so excited to start work with you? You can achieve all of this through regular communication and creativity. The rewards will be great!