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Attracting candidates to your Graduate Programme

Graduates are the lifeblood of any growing company. Their fresh perspectives, innovative ideas, and hunger for success are invaluable assets that can propel your organisation to new heights. However, in a competitive job market, putting a post on Facebook just won’t do – attracting top graduate talent requires a well-thought-out strategy.

A strong recruitment campaign will form the foundation of your graduate programme, helping you get the best talent in the market for your business. To attract this talent, you must take a holistic approach to planning to ensure a seamless candidate experience.

In this blog, we will look at the key considerations for graduate recruitment and how you can ensure you are attracting and engaging with the right audience.

To start, you should define your value proposition – what makes you different? What can your programme offer them that others can’t? How can you help them develop? Make sure your materials speak to their need. Look at the following considerations for when you start creating your recruitment materials:

  • Clear progression path – Top grads want to know that there is a clear progression path for them and like to see where they could get to – give them the facts and figures of what this looks like within your organisation.
  • Reward – The best graduates will get up to speed quickly as part of a well-designed programme. Include regular reviews and opportunities for two-way feedback. Demonstrate “What’s in it for me” (WIIFM).
  • CPD – Top grads want to develop professionally. Can you support them on the path to chartership/accreditation?
  • Challenge – The world’s most successful companies only take the best of the best. Explain the challenges of the programme and what your expectations are of them in 1, 3, 6, and 12 months. Building a reputation for being a difficult company to get into is beneficial – it’ll put off the people who aren’t right and attract the ambitious and competent individuals that your business needs.

How to attract candidates pre-application

The pre-application phase focuses on generating awareness, capturing interest, building desire, and ultimately motivating potential candidates to take action by applying for your graduate program.  Also, think about when to start the program – some leading employers begin the awareness up to 9 months before onboarding.  Check with your local universities and colleges on their milkrounds.


Generate some word of mouth through engagement with universities and referrals from current employees. Create social media snippets to gain interest. Write job adverts that follow the AIDA format to ensure content is engaging.


Share success stories from past graduates or people who have advanced within your organisation. Create explainer videos on the unique things that you do and the impact you have on your industry. Demonstrate the WIIFM for candidates.


Talk about how challenging the recruitment process is. A highly selective recruitment process means they will work with top talent. It creates a competitive environment for candidates and can make your programme more sought after.


Have a straightforward application process. A CV and cover letter are the most you should request (unless you must have an application form).

How to engage candidates post-application

The post-application stage focuses on engaging with candidates who have taken the initiative to apply for your program. This is where you take action to create a positive candidate experience and enhance your employer brand.


Take a high-touch approach with candidates. Build in time within the process to ensure you are engaging with them and keeping them bought in throughout each stage.


Ensure applicants know where they are in the process and what the next steps are. Know where the communication points are within the process, and ensure you deliver on these consistently throughout – including as much information as possible to keep them well informed. Also, provide applicants with an approachable point of contact for any questions.


Make sure all candidates get feedback. They may not be successful in this process, but you may want them to want to make an application to your company in the future. Feedback is a key driver in a positive candidate experience, so providing this will help build your employer brand.

By taking this approach in your graduate attraction efforts, you can help your company stand out in a competitive job market and secure the top graduate talent needed for your organisation’s growth and success.


Written by Michelle Kearns.

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