This series focuses on how SMEs can overcome obstacles to attract, hire and retain top graduate recruits.

In Part 1 we looked at how you can attract graduates to your roles, and in Part 2 we offered tips on making your recruitment process as engaging as possible.

So now you’ve attracted top talent, have retained them throughout your hiring process and have placed a brilliant hire. You may think the hard work is over, but this can be an especially important time to ensure your new recruit settles in well and can get stuck into their role.

Part 3 | Graduate retention

Before their arrival

Coming into a new workplace (possibly for the first time in their lives) can be especially daunting for newly graduated recruits.

Start by creating a comprehensive induction plan before your graduate hire arrives, to help them become more acquainted with the working environment, the team, your product/service, and their day-to-day duties. Ensure you have tasks lined up so that when your hire arrives they don’t feel out of place, with nothing to do but refresh their empty inbox and wait for someone to ask them to do something.

If you work in an office environment, prepare your new hire’s desk for when they arrive. Remember how nerve-wracking it was asking where the stationary was kept at your very first job? Supply them with pens, notebooks and all the essentials they might need to take that element of worry out of the equation.

Finally, consider assigning an employee that will act as your graduate recruit’s buddy. Knowing they have a mentor to support them can be a great comfort to nervous recruits, even if it just comes down to advice on where to go for lunch on that first day!

During their first few months

Induction sessions with members of other teams will help your new hire understand more about your organisation as a whole, meet a few other team members, and get started on tasks that will be valuable to both you and them. Being able to contribute to projects early on will give your new hire a sense of value in the workplace, engaging them even more in their work and the work of your company as a whole.

Keep in mind however, the delicate balance between getting your graduate recruit involved in the company and their role, and throwing them in the deep end.

Consider how you can develop your graduate’s soft skills: Do their telephone manner or communication skills need improvement? You might consider providing opportunities for them to practice. You might also offer formal training opportunities for the other aspects of their role that require a more structured teaching method.

Scheduling regular one-to-one review meetings with your graduate hire allows you to provide constructive feedback, run through their achievements to date and set objectives. Listen to your graduates’ feedback too – this can provide a real insight into your company culture, on-boarding process and management styles.

Soon, you should start to see your new graduate recruit settling into their role, delivering valuable work, and becoming a truly integrated member of your SME team. Meanwhile, your business will benefit from additional resources, a fresh new viewpoint and energy and, hopefully, a motivated, long-serving employee.

Find out more

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A new route for graduate recruitment: The KTP

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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.