In 2022, we’re in the midst of a major talent shortage that has led to a candidate-led market. Talent acquisition has become a challenge for organisations all over the country and competition for the best candidates is steep.

But what does the market look like for graduates in 2022? And how can organisations ensure that they are hiring the best graduates from this cohort?

Read on to find out how to hire the best graduate talent in 2022.

How is graduate recruitment different in 2022?

More graduate jobs on offer

2022 is a great time to be a graduate looking for a job: leading employers are expanding their graduate recruitment campaigns to outpace pre-pandemic levels. According to High Fliers, it’s expected that the number of graduate jobs available in 2022 is expected to increase by a further 15.7%, making this the highest annual rise in graduate recruitment in over 15 years.

Higher starting salaries for graduates

The UK’s leading graduate employers are offering higher starting salaries for the first time in eight years, with the median starting salary rising to £32,000, and three of the best-known graduate employers in the UK are offering starting salaries above £50,000 for new graduates.

Fewer applications to grad jobs

And yet, three fifths of leading graduate employers in the UK have reported that they received fewer applications during the 2021 recruitment season compared to 2020, with an average drop in applications of 7%.

A return of in-person graduate recruitment events

In 2021, many of the leading employers continued to hold online careers fairs and virtual events instead of on-campus recruitment of students. However, some employers found that this led to lower student engagement than in previous in-person events. Now, in 2022, in-person events and careers fairs are returning.

Graduates delaying their job search

While in the past it was normal for final year students to be taking active steps to apply to graduate schemes, jobs, and internships, students are now increasingly delaying these activities until after they have finished their studies. This may be a result of increasing pressure to focus on academic performance in order to achieve the best grades, a desire to take time off between graduation and starting a job, or growing numbers of students moving on to additional education options.

As a result, the graduate market increasingly includes those who graduated a while ago as well as those

Why hire graduates?

There are many benefits to targeting university graduates in your recruitment campaigns, including:

An injection of a fresh, new perspective

Young and energetic recent graduates can inject new perspectives and energy into an organisation.

A proven work ethic and intellectual ability

After spending three or four years as students, graduates have a demonstrable work ethic and intellectual skills that can translate into their new roles.

Ambitious employees at the start of their careers

Graduates looking for internships or graduate roles at the leading graduate job providers tend to make ambitious employees who may one day be leadership material.

A ready-to-recruit talent pool

Building a talent pool of skilled graduates using university career fairs and other recruitment promotions ensures that your organisation is great for your talent acquisition strategy.

Where to recruit for graduate vacancies 

Careers fairs at universities or in major hubs

One of the most common recruiting tools for graduates, a career fair on a university campus or in a city can attract a range of potential candidates. With a recruiter and recruitment materials and information on-hand, a stall at a fair is a great way to get current students and recent graduates interested in a career in your organisation.

Advertise on online job boards

Online job boards are a good way to advertise job opportunities aimed at graduates and therefore need to be part of your graduate recruitment strategy. These are an ideal way for recruiters to reach graduate job seekers who do not attend careers fairs because they are too busy with their studies, live outside of the UK, or have already graduated.

Reach the right candidates on social media

Social media is a great tool to advertise job opportunities and connect with potential applicants, especially for graduates and Gen Zers. With good recruitment software, you can even automate job postings to social media platforms, allowing your organisation’s social media followers to be alerted every time a new vacancy goes live on your website.

Use your careers portal

If you’re looking to attract graduates for roles in your organisation, it’s important to offer information about this on your website. Using a dedicated candidate portal allows potential applicants to access all the information they need and submit their online application forms all in one place.

How to recruit the best graduates

With all these strategies in mind, how do in-house recruiters ensure that they are securing the best possible candidates? Here are some tips to follow.

Move as fast as possible

To get the best graduates, it’s essential that your organisation has a speedy time-to-hire. Competition for candidates is high; you need to ensure that the recruitment process moves as quickly and efficiently as possible to avoid the best recent college graduates accepting other offers.

To boost efficiency in the hiring process, powerful recruiting software with automation capabilities is essential. Good recruitment software like Hireserve Applicant Tracking System (ATS) eliminates admin time in a range of ways.

For example, your ATS can cut down on pre-screening time. Hireserve recruitment software offers ‘Killer Questions’ that immediately exclude unsuitable candidates. Only looking for candidates with a particular skill? A university degree above a 2:1? Your recruitment software can automatically exclude any candidate who doesn’t meet these criteria.

Remember: candidate experience is everything

When trying to hire the top graduates of 2022, keep in mind that candidate experience is more important than ever before. A great candidate experience is the difference between a candidate accepting or turning down a job offer — in-house recruiters need to provide an excellent candidate experience that will ease their transition into the organisation and their new role.

So, how do you ensure a great candidate experience for graduates? Communication, communication, communication. Candidates want to receive personalised email and text communications instead of generic messages; they want to be kept up to date with their application’s process, and they don’t want to be left waiting for responses. In fact, 62% of US job seekers have reported that they lose interest in a role if a potential employer doesn’t respond to them in 10 business days.

It’s clear that providing a great candidate experience is essential, but it’s also a lot of work for in-house recruitment teams and hiring managers. Fortunately, recruitment software can handle a lot of this workload by sending automated and personalised communications to each candidate and boosting efficiency throughout the hiring process.

Keep the application process simple

Nobody wants to go through a hundred different interviews, an assessment centre visit, and multiple rounds of online forms where you have to copy and paste all the experience already on your CV. If your application process is overly long or complicated, final year students and new graduates will simply give up.

If you want to recruit the best graduate talent for your organisation, make sure that nothing in your recruitment process is putting graduates off. Keep interviews and tasks to a minimum.

Highlight the benefits graduates actually want

Throughout the recruitment process, keep in mind that Gen Z graduates have different desires and priorities to previous cohorts. They’re particularly concerned with the values and mission of the organisation they work for: 83% of Gen Z workers reported that they want to work in an organisation where they can positively impact the world, while 70% wanted to work for a business with values that matched their own. Almost half of Gen Z respondents in one survey said that they wouldn’t accept a job offer from an organisation that didn’t share thier views on social and environmental issues.

Gen Z graduates are also looking for employers who prioritise mental health and offer a good work-life balance. Benefits such as mental health days and a good amount of paid time off are especially important to them.

With this in mind, it’s important to ensure that your graduate recruitment strategy emphasises these things. This makes it more likely that your organisation will attract more graduates to fill vacancies with the best talent.

Use data to analyse past success

How have you successfully hired graduates in the past? Where did they tend to find out about the position: job boards, social media, graduate fairs? What feedback did they offer about the hiring process? When creating strategies to recruit graduates in the future, past data is your best friend.


To recruit the best graduates in 2022, it’s essential that organisations revamp their talent acquisition strategies. From speeding up the hiring process and providing a memorable candidate experience to emphasising your organisation’s Gen Z-friendliness during the recruitment process, there are a range of ways your team can better attract the cream of the graduate crop.

To boost your recruitment strategy, why not try a new, high-powered recruiting software? Hireserve ATS has been designed to streamline and enhance your recruitment strategy using powerful technology. Automate processes, speed up screening, and provide a consistent and great candidate experience with the help of our recruitment software.

Want to give Hireserve Applicant Tracking System a go? Request a demo today to find  our how our software can boost your graduate recruitment.

About the author

Hannah Elliott