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Recruiting Graduates - Attracting Staff In Competitve Times


Matt Stevens from TalentLens UK reports on the UK graduate recruitment sector and looks at how employers can cut through the subjectivity of application forms to reach the impartial information that ability tests provide.

The UK graduate job market has returned to pre recession levels. 

This, coupled with the lowest recorded unemployment figures in 40 years and a vast increase in higher class degrees has resulted in extreme competition for vacancies.

Recruiters therefore, now have to look for other ways of distinguishing between good candidates and the best.

This article looks at the current situation in the UK job market and examines the various recruitment methods available to organisations.


UK State of play

As reported previously in this blog, in early 2015 the FT reported that “graduates are emerging into the most buoyant graduate job market for over a decade, with a wider choice of graduate vacancies at the country’s most sought-after employers and better starting salaries”.

Similarly, the Office of National Statistics demonstrated that the unemployment rate in the United Kingdom decreased to 5.50% by the end of March of 2015, compared to 6.6% a year previously.

By way of providing a perspective, the unemployment rate in the UK averaged 7.24 percent from 1971 until 2015.

The Higher Education Statistics Agency showed that despite the increased employment figures referred to above, 20% of graduates received a first class degree in 2014, compared with just 10% awarded firsts in 2004.

Leaving searching for the explanation of why this increase has occurred aside, the net result is that employers now have a tough task when trying to discern between candidates with very similar grades and extra curricular achievements.


Effectiveness vs. Popularity

Recruiters have a plethora of methods open to them.

I have examined effectiveness vs. personality of recruitment methods in a previous post.

Based upon work by Schmidt and Hunter, the below tables illustrate that what is considered to be the best way of doing something, may well be one of the least effective when compared to other, more objective approaches.


Reduce the risk

Recruitment processes involve a great deal of risk management and probability.

Scrutinising application forms, holding interviews and obtaining references all improve the chances of identifying the best talent. However, these activities will only improve chances if the methods are used appropriately. 

For example, application forms are a popular initial sift of candidates. They highlight academic scores and other basic requirements but what do they objectively show us about a candidate's cognitive abilities?

Generally, the answer is 'not very much'. This illustrates the importance of using the right tools for the job. For recruitment purposes, the best tools are cognitive ability tests. Over 100 years of academic research involving hundreds of thousands of participants supports this.


Combination is key

The combination of measurements, especially when used to sift out and then to select in, within an assessment centre format, can enhance the process.

They provide a powerful indicator of candidate suitability. Assessments are designed to integrate within existing recruitment procedures and to provide objective clarity. 

As mentioned, recruitment is increasingly becoming a game of risk management and probabilities.

The most effective selection methods can help to tip the scales in your favour by answering unknown questions.

Using a range of the best and most relevant assessments allows you to improve the odds of spotting the great performers.


TalentLens solutions

We have a range of tools designed to help you measure candidates’ ability and values at appropriate stages in the recruitment process.

Ability TestsCritical thinking or numerical / inductive reasoning.

Personality Traits and Values assessments – show if someone is likely to be a good fit to the role and the culture of the organisation as a whole.


Further reading: What is Occupational Testing? Guest Post on LSE Blog.

To find out more about what we do, visit our graduate solutions page, or get in touch via 0845 630 8888 or info@talentlens.co.uk.

Connect with Matt on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter.        

Graduates / Gen Y

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