If you’ve been following our Crash Course so far, you will know how to attract the top talent to your industry through a solid engagement strategy and a range of touch points. However, we’ve not yet talked about what kind of people you should be looking for in order to build the best talent pipeline for your business.
The students joining you for work experience today are your employees of tomorrow, and you want to make sure they are capable of becoming managers, executives and other high-level employees. As such, there is a lot to consider when it comes to whether or not to bring them on board.
What skills are you looking for?
The first step in this process is to establish what exactly you are looking for in your new recruits. This requires you to have a hiring strategy in place that takes account of your business’ needs, both as they are now and as they will be in the future. If you don’t have a good grasp of this, you might find that your new hires are obsolete in a year or two.
Think about what the overall aim of your company is. In most cases, this will be something like “growth”, but it might be a completely different factor. Then consider what skills you will need in your workforce in order to achieve this. These are what you will be looking for in your graduate talent.
Tech giant Oracle’s best practice in this area, for example, is to:
“Create detailed charts of the ideal workforce, today and five years down the road, that consider all factors, from labor market trends and impending industry regulations to anticipated effects that automation and other technologies will have on the jobs themselves.”
For some idea of what to look for, the Institute of Student Employers has released research into the skills that many graduates lack. The organisation found that only ten per cent of graduates are skilled at dealing with conflict, 15 per cent at commercial awareness and 20 per cent at business communication.
The largest discrepancy lies with negotiating and influencing. Only 11 per cent of graduates have this skill, and it is so vital that 92 per cent of employers are training new hires on it. It’s clear that you need to prioritise these rare talents, as doing so will save you time and resources when it comes to training and development.
Follow a process like this to work out what exactly you should be considering when it comes to looking at your early talent pipeline.
Are they talented enough?
Talent is a difficult thing to measure. On the one hand, you can measure potential recruits by their A-Level and degree results, their extracurricular activity, and any industry-knowledge tests or interviews you want to put them through. Studying the results of these can give you a good indication of what they are capable of.
However, there is a disadvantage to this approach: somebody with a first-class economics degree, for example, might not be any good at the practical elements of being a hedge fund manager. Until you can see someone working, it is very difficult to see where their strengths and weaknesses lie.
This is why work experience is such a valuable tool for recruiters. Taking undergraduates on for an internship or placement year allows you to assess their skills.
You can then potentially bring them on as permanent hires if they are as talented as their applications make them seem.
A recent study by RateMyPlacement has shown that 59% of undergraduates on work experience convert into graduate hires. By utilising internships and placement years, the firms surveyed were able to take greater risks and cast a wider net for their talent pool, ensuring those that were eventually hired were only the cream of the crop.
Will they stay?
Of course, there’s really no point in taking someone on-board if they’re going to leave your organisation after a year. This is a problem with the millennial workforce, as a recent PwC study has shown that career progression is the main driver for this demographic, with 52 per cent of them listing it as their top concern when it comes to work.
Furthermore, 41 per cent of millennials expect to be in their job for less than two years. The most talented young graduates are also likely to be the most keen to move forwards with their career. If you want to keep hold of them, you will need to make sure you are able to offer them the progression they desire within your company so they don’t find themselves looking elsewhere.
This is another area where placement years can be a huge help to your organisation. They allow you to integrate your graduate workforce in with the rest of your company over an extended period of time, easing them into their future job and making them feel like part of a team.
During this period, show them the opportunities there are within the company. If you have a set “ladder” or other system in place for progression, make sure they see it as soon as possible. With 78 per cent of employees saying they would stay with their current employer if they knew their career path, it is clear that this is a crucial part of talent retention.
Next guide: Assessment
We’ve touched on how to assess your graduate recruits earlier in this article, but it’s a subject that needs tackling in more detail. You will have a much greater chance of a successful hire if you have the right assessment process in place, so you can make sure you’re taking on the top talent for your work placements and internships.
We’ll look at different methods of assessing students and show you which ones will be right for your business in our next guide. Following this advice will help you ensure you’re not wasting time trying to train up the wrong people for your company, as you will have selected your student recruits carefully and weeded out poor applicants at an early stage in the process.