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The Must-Know UK Student Recruitment Trends for 2019

Charles Hipps March 7, 2019

The pressure to secure top graduate talent into an organisation has always been a daunting task. When Millennials shook the workforce, it became even more complicated as their aspirations are different than previous generations. Then came Generation Z. And, headlines hint toward the entire process becoming even more challenging.

We set out to get a real grasp of what we can expect for student recruiting. Our goal was to figure out exactly how recruiters can be more adaptable to upcoming trends by identifying them, addressing challenges and offering innovative techniques to mitigate them. We reviewed anonymous application data from 3.8 million candidates. These candidates were applying to graduate programmes in business across finance, government, professional services, advertising, engineering and retail.

Not sure what you can expect for the future of student #recruitment? @Oleeo_ ‘s new research is sure to prepare you for what’s to come in the UK:Tweet This!

Our process

In conducting this study, we took the following into consideration:

  • Numbers of applications versus numbers hired and numbers screened out

  • Levels of candidates self-withdrawing from application processes

  • Gender and ethnicity balances among those who are hired

  • Overseas interest in graduate roles in the UK and levels of success

  • What candidates declare as their source for choosing to apply

  • If Russell Group universities have prominence among candidates hired by employers

With the help of Universum, we also used extracts from the 2018 Talent Insight reports series. Specifically, we concentrated on responses from 6,692 business students and 5,841 engineering/IT students across the UK. This is what we took into consideration:

  • Student aspirations for what they want to do next after graduation & career goals

  • Characteristics that define the attractiveness of an employer among students

  • Favored communication channels for employer messaging

  • Prominence of social media for employer messaging

UK student recruiting in 2019 - a preview of our key findings

We reviewed anonymous application data from 3.8 million candidates applying to graduate programs in business across finance, government, professional services, advertising, engineering and retail. Here are three noteworthy findings and analysis:

1. “The average number of applications for graduate programmes in the UK is on the rise. Financial and professional services firms can expect an average of 250,000 while the other sectors had averages of 50,000. This is being driven by UK students now considering an average of 29 employers to work for when applying to graduate schemes according to Universum data.”

UK students are no longer focusing their aspirations on a select few employers to work for. This results in more applications. However, when a student sends out 29 applications, they will still find the one match that fits for their needs. The increase in applications does not necessarily mean an increase in students. Students are simply broadening their horizons when sending applications.

2. “Another 50% of all applications are screened out before any further assessments or interviews – employers are setting tougher pre-screening criteria to make selection more agile.”

Employers are ruling out half of their incoming applicants before secondary assessments or interviews. This trend will likely lead to very steep competition where even getting an interview will be an accomplishment.

3. “There’s still a gap in gender hiring between male and females. However, compared to last year, the gap is smaller. In 2017, the split was 69% versus 31% while in 2018, it had moved to 58% versus 42%. Of the sectors reviewed, the public sector was the only one to have hit gender equality of 50/50 in hires. Engineering, retail and advertising were struggling the most averaging at 70% male hires showing more needs to be done to encourage diversity in the STEM and creative industries.”

Our research shows that the public sector has achieved gender equality in hires. Overall, there is still a gap in gender hiring, but the gap is smaller as time goes on. Recruiters will need to be conscious of the industries that are struggling the most to close this gap.

Have we reached gender equality in student recruitment? Find out what industries in the UK are struggling to close the gap in @Oleeo_’s latest #StudentRecruiting research: Tweet this!

Embracing the latest trends

The findings of the full report show just how tough competition is to hire the best talent in graduate recruitment. Candidates are more empowered than ever before and employers have to work extra hard to secure the candidates that will prosper in their organization and help deliver business growth.

Getting a hire wrong isn’t only costly, poor hiring can lead to lower productivity, reduced levels of employee morale and engagement and ultimately more attrition. It is a vicious circle. Knowing what worked well in the past can help to fine-tune the types of candidates that carry high favor within a firm.

When we combine the knowledge of what occurred in the past and the trends we see for the future, we become better recruiters. Ready to dive into the rest of the must-know student recruitment trends? See the full report here!

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