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Using Employer Branding to Attract the Best Graduates

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As we all hope signs of spring will start to appear through the cold and snow, many businesses are beginning to look at the fresh graduates about to break into the employment sphere. And while a number of organisations may be of the opinion that there are more graduates out there than vacancies, making graduate recruitment easy, this is actually far from the truth.

This emerging talent is coming into the market with a different idea of work than many of us may realise. Far from the days where an individual, fresh from study, is willing to take any job available, we are now in an era in which elements such as work life balance, benefits and the brands’ image play a huge role in a career choice.

From discussions with senior level HRDs across the globe and international recruiters, it’s become increasingly clear to me that today’s graduates place more emphasis on the ‘added value’ a job brings them. For example, is the company involved in any CSR activities, what is the social life like, how do they think outside the box and what do they do differently from other companies?

And while every brand will have a number of values they use for their competitive positioning which are likely to cover the above, these are often a forgotten opportunity in the recruitment process. Many organisations will also have a number of employee engagement initiatives to keep staff motivated, but these tend to be kept as internal secrets when in fact they can be a great graduate attraction tool.

So how do you get your employer branding message out to graduates?

As I mentioned in my last post, social media forms a vital part of any employer brand strategy. But when you consider the traits of the emerging graduate talent, this medium is perhaps the most important channel to get right. This new demographic will have grown up relying on social media channels such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Pinterest, and this dependence extends to their career search.

Consider how you can use social media creatively to engage with graduates – use videos to highlight life at the company, tweet out any employee engagement programmes you have planned and share photos on Facebook for example.

Review how you use your website as well. This emerging talent wants to see that the organisation they will be working for is personable, a great place to work and is ultimately the best place for them to progress their career. A static careers page will not get this across.

Also, think about what information you are pushing out to the target audience. While you may feel that an individual should persuade you they are the best person for the job, keep in mind that the reverse is also possible. If you aim to get the best talent on board, you will also need to make it clear why you are the best employer for them.

With this in mind, give graduates a reason to remember you. Provide career advice and reference any examples you have of success – do you have any graduates who have progressed to their dream role, or anyone who has made a real impact on the business by being given an opportunity they might not have had elsewhere. Provide tips on how to make it into your sector – this will not only put you in a favourable light with graduates, but will also ensure you have the right people looking to work for you.

Finally – but perhaps most importantly – be consistent. Today’s graduates will be using multiple channels in the career hunt and inconsistent messaging will put them off. Once you’ve committed to using a number of channels in your employer branding activity, make sure you are updating them regularly and changing any messaging as and when necessary.

About the author:

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Vickie Collinge| BlueSky PR

Vickie Collinge heads up the HR and talent management practice at specialist PR and communications agency, BlueSky PR.