– By Charlie Reeve

Charlie Reeve, Graduate RecruitmentThe conclusion I’ve drawn from 12 years in the industry is that the world of graduate recruitment is rather fickle: it changes a lot.

At least it seems that way. Lots of hot topics, heart burns and cries of “Oh what a difficult time we are having trouble recruiting electrical engineers!“. If one more person mentions a “war for talent” I might just burst with exasperation.

Giving more credence to the fickle values of this industry are new ways of recruiting like “Strengths-Based Recruitment”, or “Video Interviewing” (both I think are fabulous by the way) and the vernacular of attracting digital natives spawning recruitment websites with a penchant for missing or additional vowels (Plotr and Hiive come to mind – I love these too!).

And that is it: this is why I remain in the industry, why it feels cutting-edge and why I feel honoured that someone somewhere is really appealing to my dyslexic brian (errm, I mean brain) with vowel mashups.

Or is it just change for change’s sake?

Could this continuous reinvention just be smoke and mirrors for what is, actually, a set of rather ubiquitous problems that have existed since graduate recruitment was born? And actually, when was it born?

My curiosity took me to the catacombs of the British Library. Armed with pencil, paraffin lamp and cloak of invisibility I found a book called The Graduate Connection (Pearce & Jackson). Nothing strange about that, but the foreword was fascinating:

The change from the relatively individualistic and intellectual life of the student to the more regular and responsible existence of the wage earner can be a traumatic one. The adjustment that an organisation must make to absorb a new employee, who often comes with a generous endowment of preconception but little previous experience, can be equally difficult. The recruitment process is the critical part of the attempt to minimise the difficulties by matching the aptitudes and interests of the individual students, to the requirements of specific jobs or specific companies. But there are misunderstandings of both attitude and information, which careers advisers do all they can to remove.”

(S.L. Bragg, Vice Chancellor and Principle of Brunel University, 1976)

Hang on! 1976?!

Not a lot has changed in the last 39 years in graduate recruitment. The same fundamental problems existed in 1976 that exist today. The market is somewhat broken, expectations aren’t matching reality and getting the right people in the right jobs in the right company is still proving rather tricky.

But what has changed is the lens through which we view these problems.

*Cue fanfare music*

I love acronyms and this one by Dr Graeme Codrington is a useful way to view how things have changed/are changing through what he coins “disruptive forces”. These are TIDES: technology, institutional change, demographics, environment and social values.

I wonder why he didn’t chose the acronym DIETS? There I go with my vowel mashups again.

Anyway, it is through this lens that I will explore how these disruptive forces are driving change in graduate recruitment today. After all, in 1976 they didn’t have the internet, only 49,000 UK graduates entered the market compared to 400,000 in 2014 and globalization was just a glint in Theodore Levitt’s eye. Social values have shifted and demographics in many countries are taking an hour glass shape; a ticking time bomb of labour shortage and shrinking economies for some.

All very positive, uplifting stuff then. Ahem.

I will explore that in the next blog post and then the next one after that, and then in the next one after that.

So, the question is, just how much change is around the corner?

What else did I unearth in the British Library? And just how many more websites are going to lose/gain a vowel?

*Cue EastEnders duff-duffers*

*Fade to black*

Graduate Recruitment and Development professional Charlie joins the Hireserve blog with a series of posts about the highs and lows of graduate recruitment. Keep an eye out for Part II of the series coming in April. You can follow Charlie @creeve76or visit his blog.

About the author

Tristan Potter

Tristan has a decade's worth of experience writing content and copy for organisations across Bristol and the Southwest of England. He has written on a diverse range of topics, including technology, philosophy, politics, and recruitment. His writing has appeared in The Drum, HR Grapevine, and The Guardian, among other publications. He joined Hireserve in March 2022.