Top 5 tips on attracting graduate talent to your Growing Business

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Article by Chris Unwin, CEO of manufacturing company L.A.C. Conveyors and Automation


It’s no secret that graduates can make a fantastic addition to your team - they’re essentially a clean slate, ready to soak up information like a sponge and bring new ideas and a fresh outlook to your business. They provide a good return on investment too, so it’s worth the effort to find the right ones, but the two things that bigger companies have over SMEs are higher budgets and a larger workforce to be able to dedicate to their recruitment drives. This can make it difficult for small businesses to compete, however, there are a number of things you can do to attract the best graduate talent without huge resources. Here are a few: 


Be prepared to talk the talk 

Talking to graduates is the most simple way to get them interested. Should resource permit, take any opportunity you can to get in front of prospective employees, face to face, no matter how small. Besides the obvious, it’s worth sharing your business’s purpose, ethos and values. Explain what your strengths are, what you do better than your competitors, and what your plans for the future are, so that they can buy into that vision. If you’re a company that really prides itself on its CSR, for example, then be proud and shout about it! It’s often the little things that can make the most difference when it comes to recruiting people that will become loyal and motivated employees.


Utilise your website and social media

The graduates of today are tech savvy and businesses need to recognise this by having an active social media. Use it to keep customers and prospective employees up-to-date with what you’re doing and to promote any placements or jobs you have going - either organically or by investing in advertising to boost your reach. Naturally, if people are interested they’re going to click through to your website. Spend a bit of time looking through your website as if you were a jobseeker yourself - is everything working as it should, is there anything that’s glaringly off-putting? Make it as easy as possible for people to see what’s available, and to apply for any roles they’re interested in. If you have a blog you could even ask a current graduate, or someone who started off as a graduate, to contribute a post on what they do on a day-to-day basis, for example. 


Review your perks and benefits

What people want from a business is changing all the time, so it’s important to review your perks and benefits on a regular basis. Flexible working is highly desirable these days, with 67% of small businesses now offering some form of flexible work arrangements. Workplaces that have a great culture and those that look after their staffs’ health and wellbeing are also desirable. Again, it’s often the little things that count - something like a cycle to work scheme, or a free lunch once a month, can be influential to some prospective employees.

Give something back to them 

If you haven’t already, contact local universities and ask them how you can work together. It could be as simple as asking them if you can post on the ‘vacancies’ section of their website, which most, if not all, universities will have. If you can spare time, why not consider a guest lecturer opportunity, followed by a Q&A session at the end? If you can spare money, you could sponsor a society or team or a student’s final year project. If you can spare both, then a stall at a careers fair could be ideal.  


Invite them for a grand tour

It’s all well and good telling people what it is you do on a day-to-day basis, but it’s even better if you can show them. We should never underestimate the power of face-to-face conversations, which is why there’s so much value in offering insight or taster days and giving students a grand tour of your business. Make time to speak to everyone that attends and where possible introduce them to other members of the team, who can answer questions specific to their role. Offering work shadowing, work experience weeks, or paid internship placements, are also great ways to get your business name out there and show how you stand out from bigger competitors.