“Why use Step when my local Uni will do everything for free?”

“My local University offers businesses a free service, why should I pay for yours?”

This is a question we sometimes hear at Step, and on the face of it, it’s a reasonable question, particularly when European funding is  available to take students and graduates from Universities. But what of the many small to medium sized employers we regularly speak with who are not finding the right graduates for their businesses?

In the last few months there have been at least three examples of successful businesses with close links with one or more Universities which are near to them who had not been able to find the right graduate to join their team. This is where our extended network can pay dividends, and in all cases we found top-drawer graduates for them. These were for varied roles in sales / account management, engineering and marketing.

One example was a well-established business, with a high-profile in their specific industry. The Managing Director had been looking for a graduate for over a year, without success; he was looking for a business-focused graduate, who could offer the raw skills that could be built on for a sales and account management related role, and was flexible on degree subject. Unfortunately his experience had not been great: the Universities had sent a lot of un-screened applications but none who he felt was suitable.

We undertook an initial search, to see who we had available, and then proactively advertised and searched for new candidates. There was a lot of interest, and following discussions with the applicants, the shortlist was narrowed down to three who were interviewed: the feedback from the MD was that he would have employed all three if he could, but he chose one who is now thriving in her new role, making profit for the business- and the fee has already been more than covered.

As it turned out, two of the graduates were from Universities where the employer had long established links, but neither candidate had been made aware of the opportunity by their Universities. Another had studied over 200 miles away and was looking to return home to begin his career.

At Step we take pride in the many long-standing, strong relationships we have with Universities across the UK, and the high profile we have amongst them. These networks have been invaluable in helping to fill many internships, sandwich placements and permanent roles over the years.

Our database of over 40,000 students and graduates has been populated using a variety of methods, including those direct links and our presence on campus; we add to it using proactive sourcing methods each time we take on a new assignment. As we have links across the UK, we are able to reach students and graduates who are from areas local to the business and who are looking to return after studying away: these can be missed if only concentrating the search with local Universities.

There have been well-documented, historical issues with students and graduates not engaging with Careers departments in Universities, and a lot of hard work has gone into addressing this issue, with Universities becoming more savvy, and proactive, developing links with employers and offering students and graduates help and guidance with employability skills. It is great to see the considerable improvements that have been made, though some Universities are still finding issues with continued access to graduates after they have left, and we are successful in helping many of these graduates find new opportunities.

We appreciate the benefits of the direct links, but you could be missing out by not using our services- and as you only pay a fee if one of our students or graduates joins you, it won’t cost you to find out.

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