Online recruitment failing to uncover hidden talent


Too much valuable graduate talent is being ‘lost in the system’ by Britain's employers despite huge expenditure in time, technology and money.

Research on graduate recruitment by the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) and the Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE), has found that while the internet has brought new efficiencies to the graduate recruitment process, online selection may be excluding potential talent because it tends to use fairly crude measures such as ‘A’ level scores and degree class.

In particular, it says, a growing number of other graduates are entering the workplace outside specific graduate recruitment channels. Linda Barber, lead author of the report, said that graduates who enter jobs at local level can often remain ‘hidden’, she said, and run the risk of finding themselves being under-utilised.

"Paradoxically, the power that technology offers has not been harnessed to explain or track the full range of graduate employment opportunities within organisations, outside centralised corporate schemes, such as at business unit level," she said.

"We found that at this level, employers do not collect graduate tracking data in any meaningful way, and so have nothing to analyse on their progress or potential contribution."

The report also found that the same lack of tracking is a weakness downstream for tracking graduates emerging from corporate schemes into the wider workforce. Data are seldom collected so they too risk becoming ‘hidden’.

This raises not only the question of measuring the returns on investing in graduate schemes, which are very expensive to run, but also on what basis employers recruit new intakes, given the lack of rigorous monitoring systems?

The big challenge for employers at the recruitment coalface, the report says, is how to screen high volumes of applications fairly.

While major employers tend use a broadly competence-based approach for their graduate schemes, Helen Connor, Associate Director of the CIHE suggest that improvements could still be made in the selection process.

"If employers can give more information on the capabilities they are looking for, and help candidates self-assess their suitability, then they will be doing themselves and graduates a good turn," she said.

"Too many graduates waste their own and employers’ time, and clearer guidance can help everyone."

In addition, she argued that reliance on the Internet and technology removes the personal touch, which was found to be instrumental in enhancing employers’ reputation and brand in the graduate market place.

The report urges employers to form stronger and wider links with universities and careers advisors rather than abandon such long-standing relationships to rely solely on the Internet.

Employers would also do better to focus on the actual competencies and general cognitive abilities needed by the business, rather than more crude measures such as degree class or UCAS points, Helen Connor added.