The challenges facing organisations when recruiting for grads

As featured in Recruitment Agency Now.

There is a lot at stake when it comes to recruiting graduates. After all, they are the future.

The successful scouting and nurturing of a company’s young prospects can lead to great things – just look at the parallels in sport and Manchester United’s ‘Class of ‘92’ who made the club, in both silverware and financially, the tour de force of world football.

If badly managed however, a company can end up throwing their investment of time and money into recruiting and training grads who are unsuitable for the company and even damaging to the business and its culture.

So, what are the challenges facing organisations when recruiting grads in today’s environment?

The experience conundrum

It’s increasingly common for grads to have notched up a raft of placement experience and part-time jobs during their university years, but avoid placing too much emphasis on their experience – it will still be very limited in the scheme of their careers. Look at their drive, work values and social skills.

The qualification mismatch

Sixth-form students seldom know the career they want to pursue, which suggests their degree is likely to bear little relevance to their eventual career choice. So how much emphasis should employers put on a candidate’s degree and qualifications? Aside from certain professions, such as law or medicine, the subject of the degree is of relatively limited value.

Career trajectory guesswork

Once graduates have chosen a career sector, many lack a clear vision of their desired role and progression path within that industry. Recruiters need to offer flexibility, with access to various roles and departments to help expedite their progression.

Motivating factors

A lot is said about millennials and what their motivations are in the workplace. From free coffee, smoothies and games rooms through to unlimited holiday, many of them are surface deep. What do today’s graduates really want? To be challenged, supported, recognised when they do a good job, and remunerated fairly.


The above challenges can easily be overcome if recruiters are willing to operate outside of the traditional rulebook.

It’s what we have been doing since Brightsparks was founded; we have been working hard to understand how best to optimise the pool of great grad talent coming out of universities on a yearly basis, how to match the right grads with the right companies and ensure they become a long-term asset.

One of the key things we tell our clients is to put the traditional CV to one side, with the intention of avoiding all the pitfalls mentioned above. This takes the attention away from qualifications and experience and places focus on what we know are the most important factors in recruiting the right grads: transferable skills and shared values.

All our assessments are run on a 100% blind process. On arrival at our in-house assessment days, our clients still haven’t seen the list of candidate names nor the CVs. This approach is only possible because of our unique business model. Brightsparks employs students (14,000+ to date) from early in their career journey within demanding, client facing roles. This gives us an in-depth knowledge of each and every candidate within our extensive talent pipeline, which runs through to graduation, first steps on the career ladder and beyond.