How Small Businesses Can Attract The Best Graduate Talent


With another year of university graduation passing, this bright and raring to learn workforce can act as valuable assets to companies of all sizes. However, it has been noted to be a difficult challenge for many small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to recruit and retain graduate talent.

With the hiring landscape constantly evolving, this is inevitably putting more pressure on smaller businesses to effectively recruit the most suitable candidate in our rapidly changing economy.

Here, Chris from L.A.C. Conveyors and Automation outlines 7 key steps from his experience to aid small businesses to attract and retain the right graduate talent for specific job roles.

Clear job descriptions

A job description is likely to provide an initial chance to engage and communicate with potential candidates. Before applying for the job role, candidates should be aware of what the role actually entails and how they can meet these requirements. A clear job description should outline the following:

●     Realistic and accurate job title

●     Define the role by outlining tasks that will be carried out during a typical work day

●     Key areas of responsibility and expected deliverables

●     Scope for progression within the company

●     Selling the job role by mentioning benefits available

●     Communicate the organisation’s culture and identity

●     Outline what should happen before, during and after the hiring process

With job descriptions usually being the initial step candidates interact with before applying for a job, a well thought out job description allows a judgement to be made whether to apply to the job.

A clearly outlined job description is likely to attract targeted candidates that are suited for the role, in turn making the recruitment process for smaller businesses less daunting and time consuming.

Switch to digital platforms

It’s no secret that younger generations are regarded as being more digital savvy, having grown  up with technology. With many job applications traditionally being available directly from the company website itself, or through word of mouth, the digital world presents many new opportunities for SMEs. Because of this, arguably outdated way of targeting employees, small businesses can now target graduate talent in a more strategic and efficient manner.

Promoting job opportunities towards graduates on social platforms, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter can help SMEs recruit talent in a cost effective manner. Each social media channel can provide useful insights helping to target the desired candidate.

If you currently have an employee that is comfortable working through online channels and communicating to this audience, a vast amount of analytical data can be retrieved to further target personalised graduate talent, or help to refine your recruitment process further to extend your reach of applicants for a role.

Building a rapport

When interacting over social channels, it is especially important to promote and communicate your company brand clearly. This is likely to entice students who may not necessarily be situated close to the current company location, but are keen to relocate after finishing university.

Social media can immediately aid in developing professional relationships with prospective candidates as they finish university. Not only this, but the student can easily be kept updated with the business and its activities, which can increase the attractiveness of the companies work environment.

Developing partnerships with universities

With many UK universities recently acquiring a careers department within their campuses, this provides both local and national organisations with opportunities to build relationships. Successful connections with universities can provide a great pipeline of graduate talent to interact with whilst they continue to study.

There are many different ways a small business can work in a collaborative manner to help all parties, these include:

1. Offering insight days or longer-period internships at the business to gain industry related work experience, as well as allowing students to get a real feel of the company culture.

2.Offer to present talks and guest lectures at universities around different topic areas that your business is involved with, as well as general career advice.

3. Work closely with academic contacts within the desired department to source students who have expressed an interest in working with the sector/ company.

4. Attending graduate placement and career fairs at the university to speak to ambitious students directly and gain contacts for future hirings.

5. Speaking to the university careers departments and students first hand during these opportunities to discover any changing demands of the workforce, helping to inform your business offering.

Highlight the work/life balance

In alignment with many transitioning small businesses, a fair and flexible work/life balance upon graduating university will be valued by a prospective graduate. In any conversation you have, offline or online, be sure to highlight the benefits and perks of working for your company.

These could include: flexible work hour schedule, regular 121s, frequent socials amongst the team, different schemes available, such as Cycle to Work and countless more. By conveying your company benefits and outlining ways existing employees are taking full advantage of them, this can display how these potential benefits can positively impact working life.

Provide transparency across the business

If students are searching to join a SME after graduating from university, it’s likely that they are seeking to handle more responsibility and are keen to progress with the role. Therefore, to attract and retain these graduates, clear progression routes should be outlined to give candidates a sense of direction within the role.

A small business that is pursuing to hire driven and enthusiastic graduates should be sure to consider many individual areas to their recruitment process. The main steps have been highlighted above, but it’s also crucial you have clear USPs and offer something different from your competitors, in order to stand a chance of attracting the best talent.

By effectively promoting your business to this particular audience with available resources, separate avenues can be explored to source the most suitable candidate for the advertised role.