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How to fill those final spots in your graduate schemes


Don't settle for less than the best in your graduate schemes in 2016.

It’s okay to be picky. As recruitment for 2016’s graduate schemes enters its final phases, companies are right to demand the best from their candidates. That being said, it’s not unusual for companies to find themselves short of a few top candidates towards the end of the process. The solution to this isn’t for companies to lower their standards, but to up their marketing efforts.

Here are's top tips for filling those final spots in your graduate schemes:

Spread the word

If you still have space on your graduate schemes, make sure students know about it!

In order to get your message out to as many students as you can, you will require a two-pronged marketing strategy that will target both those who are actively seeking graduate schemes and students not currently searching.

Our research found that 67% of students use the internet as their main source of information when it comes to finding out about employment options. As such, companies looking to attract proactive students to graduate schemes will need to focus their efforts towards their online marketing strategy[1].

The most direct way to reach these students is through a targeted email strategy. As the academic year progresses, students may assume that you have already closed your schemes. To avoid losing out on prospects, you should look to email students that have recently provided you with their contact information, informing them that your scheme is open and encouraging them to apply.

As with all modern marketing, you can’t ignore social media. Your social media channels can be a useful complementary tool to your wider recruitment activity, adding continuity to your relationship with applicants, driving students to your sign up forms and allowing you to gauge the online sentiment towards your campaign.


Get on campus

If you want to reach students that aren’t actively searching for a graduate scheme, your marketing message is best delivered on campus. Particularly useful for targeting individual universities; getting on campus will allow your company to speak directly to students and address any questions or concerns first hand.

While we would often encourage companies on campus to show off their playful side, your final push for graduate schemes should focus on the facts. You will need to convey both the excellence of your company and the attractiveness of your scheme by using clear calls-to-action to drive a sense of urgency. Alongside job details, pay and other essentials, information that can help convince students to pick your scheme could include:

      • Your corporate culture
      • How you are fulfilling your Corporate Social Responsibility
      • Potential career progression
      • Success stories of past graduates

 In many cases, your message can be best delivered by people from within the university’s individual communities. Using students (peer-to-peer marketing) or lecturers as your mouthpiece will present a more familiar, approachable face for your campaign as well as one that will have a greater appreciation for the nuances of student life and the mood on campus.


Ensure your timing is right

An intuitive, but underutilised way of getting more applications to your graduate schemes is by keeping them open for longer. Yes, an earlier close date may encourage a sense of urgency among the more proactive students, but companies closing their schemes early often have a smaller pool of quality candidates to draw from.

Earlier this year, we spoke to students to find out if there were any discrepancies between the times employers were opening their graduate schemes and the periods in which students planned to apply to graduate schemes.

We found that more than a third of students don’t start applying for graduate jobs until at least February, when a large amount of employers have already closed their graduate schemes. Companies that end their schemes before February miss out on an overwhelming pool of potential applicants and risk the very best candidates being picked up by a competitor.


Unearth the hidden gems

There can be a tendency amongst employers to only target students in degree subjects directly related to their industry, such as a bank only targeting economics and business studies students. Companies should not be afraid to cast the recruitment net into new waters - only 31% of recent graduates are working in an industry related to their degree[1].

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t be picky with your targeting though – banks would be hard pressed to find many biomedical scientists willing to work for them. Instead, employers should expand their reach to subject areas with a wealth of vocational skills. A largely untapped source of graduate recruitment can be found in the arts, where students’ career paths are less defined.