This Step business blog is a counterpoint to our student-focused blog ‘The perils of beige applications’.
At Step we spend a significant part of every day advising candidates and providing feedback on all aspects of their applications. As part of this we guide them on how to avoid a lot of the pitfalls and common misconceptions including the danger of using recruitment clichés and stock phrases. We try to get them to show their personality and avoid what we call ‘beige’ applications while always focusing on providing actual evidence for any skills-related statements.
As the bridge between candidates and businesses, we have a 360 degree view of the application process and in a time of enhanced competition for the very best student and graduate talent we would strongly recommend businesses review their candidate attraction process to ensure that they are not making the same kind of mistakes that we are all too quick to point out when we see it in a candidate.
This is particularly important for smaller businesses as you are competing for the attention of an audience often seduced by big name brands.
Firstly, avoid the clichés that some of the biggest corporate recruiters make; you know the kind of thing, where they claim that their people are happier, more passionate and more valued than anywhere else. Here are some real world examples: “we believe our people are our greatest asset, which is why they are at the heart of our company and everything we do. “ One is tempted to ask where else their people would be? “With people as happy and helpful as ours, it’s easy to start getting ahead of yourself .” Am I alone in feeling slightly uncertain about a business that boasts how happy its people are?
If it sounds as though these have been written by an advertising guru, it’s because they probably have.
Now for a smaller business you have a fantastic opportunity to sell some very real benefits of working in your company. We know from our regular surveys of our student audience that the sort of things the new generation of graduates are looking for are: early responsibility, opportunity to influence, fast learning opportunities and hands on practice. Here’s an example of a very small company’s pitch to attract new graduate talent, which I think works well.
“While we don’t have a subsidised cafe and unrivaled pension contribution to offer you, we can offer a degree of responsibility and flexibility that’s hard to find in a role anyplace else. You will become an integral member of our team, and you will gain experience you wouldn’t get at a big corporate. You’ll be encouraged to follow your passions. You’ll be supported when you want to try something new. You’ll get to do a lot more than filing and making coffee. You’ll be working within a highly talented and motivated team who understand how important it is for you to grow and learn.”
In summary, you really can compete successfully against the big corporates for the very best graduates. But do make sure you articulate the values, culture and benefits of being part of your business, as well as being clear about the job features. Get the balance right between a purely functional job description and an over the top values statement.
Today’s generation of graduates value honesty and clarity and an opportunity to make a difference. So if you are interested in attracting high performing graduates it is worth spending a little time crafting a set of messages that takes account of the above.
If you would like an objective review of your current recruitment messaging (with no obligation to take one of our own outstanding candidates!) drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org