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21 Aug

Student perceptions of employers – is that the reality?

Posted by: Cathy Hyde, Practice Leader  |  9:41 am

At Bernard Hodes Group, we‘ve sponsored the TARGETJobs National Graduate Recruitment Employer of the Year Award since its inception. In fact, we worked in partnership with TARGETjobs to develop the award and its criteria from its launch in 2006. Why was this so important to us? Because we wanted employers to be recognised for delivering on their promises to graduates, not just for having the biggest marketing budget or a high profile consumer brand. Most other surveys and league tables in the market place rely heavily on student perception not on their experience or reality. With the Employer of the Year, we wanted to do something different – ask employers to really prove they deserve to be a winner.

The award looks at a number of key indicators across Attraction, OnBoarding, Training & Development, Engagement & Retention and Innovation. Critically, it also surveys graduates currently on the entrants’ programmes, asking about their experiences. Entrants are short-listed by a team at Bernard Hodes which usually takes around two days to complete and this is then passed to an independent panel organised by TARGETjobs who decide on the final top 3.

Every year we have seen a mix of entrants from various sectors including Business and Professional Services, Financial Services, Retail, Manufacturing and Technology. While it does still tend to be dominated by the more high profile graduate recruiters, this year, a number of entrants were from employers who do not feature in the HighFliers Times Top 100 list – interesting considering many graduates rely heavily on this league table assuming it to be the holy grail of employment opportunities. And while it is an important source of information, more education of undergraduates is needed to ensure they understand that some brilliant opportunities exist beyond the red, hard back book.

Each year, we develop a benchmarking report from the Employer of the Year entries and share this with interested parties who want to understand what other best in class employers are doing to attract and retain graduates. The Graduate Recruiters that we speak with find it a really useful tool to understand where they may be ahead of the game and where they may need to focus more effort.

Some highlights from this year’s report which we found interesting are:

  • 37% of students surveyed, couldn’t recall what their employers marketing proposition was. Is this because students have forgotten why they applied or because the marketing propositions aren’t strong enough and applicants are still too focused on the brand name?
  • Social media : Not every employer has a social media element to their marketing strategy. There are still a large number of organisations that are concerned about marketing via social media but our experience is that done correctly, it can be an engaging and cost effective communications source.
  • Senior management involvement: all entrants involve their senior managers in some aspect of their recruitment process. A great step forward from the days when recruiting was seen as something that just happened via one or two people. Students love to hear from knowledgeable people in the business which helps to shape their decision making.

If you’re interested in learning more about the report, please contact Cathy Hyde, Practice Leader –Future Talent on 07768 020948 or Cassie Sisson, Head of Business Development on 07774 400267.

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