What does the phrase ‘graduate recruitment’ conjure up for you? Is it the hustle and bustle of careers fairs? Or what about jostling for space and attention on job-boards?

There’s another way. Building a relationship with your local University can significantly enhance your graduate sourcing strategy.

1. The talent pool

University departments have a veritable ocean of talent at their fingertips.

Starting a conversation with your local academic establishment can help them to understand the skills and experience you’re seeking for a particular role.

Department leaders and lecturers can promote your opportunities to their students, as can the University’s Knowledge Transfer Centre (KTC), if they have one.

This will strengthen your reputation as a credible graduate employer, and ensure your opportunities are visible to your local graduate pool.

2. The Knowledge Transfer Partnership scheme

If you have a specific commercial project in mind and want to recruit a graduate to help you deliver it, your University could support you with a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) scheme.

Supported by an experienced academic team and proven structure, it’s a low-risk and cost-effective method of recruiting a graduate. A KTP project also equips your organisation with the resources and knowledge to get a project off the ground that could open up new markets or launch a new product or service.

3. The networking opportunities

Collaborating with your local educational establishment can provide valuable networking opportunities.

Enhance your graduate sourcing strategy by meeting with course leaders, careers advisers and graduates at networking events.

There’s also the opportunity to talk to other businesses who have benefited from academic-business collaboration, to understand how you could embed it in your graduate sourcing strategy.

4. And opening doors for graduates

Academic-business collaboration can present a wealth of graduate sourcing opportunities for employers – but let us not forget the graduates themselves.

As a business leader, there might be opportunities for you to present to students, or to contribute to a careers talk.

You could open students’ eyes to sectors, roles and careers they may not have encountered before. Sharing experiences of your own career path can be hugely valuable to young people.

Longer term, collaborating with your local university could allow you to work with course leaders to shape course content. You can discuss embedding specific knowledge or soft-skill training. This could enhance graduates’ employability, whilst also developing a talent pipeline relevant to your organisation.

Explore collaboration with your local University. It can transform the way you approach graduate sourcing – and potentially transform a young person’s career opportunities.

A version of this post was originally written by Hireserve for The FIRM, a community for in-house recruiters. It appeared in their newsletter October 2015.

Find out more

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How you can support graduate hires from day one

Why graduates should consider careers with an SME

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.