What employers want from graduates is changing – so must the way we hire them

Last month, the Sova Australia team took part in the  Australian Association of Graduate Employers (AAGE)  annual conference along with over 450 delegates from over 200 graduate employers and solutions providers. The message that stood out is that graduate programmes are changing, and so must the way we hire for them.

Recruiting for the new world of work

We know that the future of work means grads will need to develop different skills in the workplace. Uniformity, conformity and conscientiousness are no longer the norm. The need for agility, resilience, problem solving, and leadership of people come up time and time again in client conversations.

As Dr. Kiran Chitta wrote recently for Sova, digital transformation, automation and AI in the workplace mean that we’re being asked to make use of ourselves in a more holistic rather than a mechanistic way. For graduate employers, this means that the number of graduate roles available may well reduce in the next five to ten years , however the complexity and requirements of those graduate roles will likely increase.

We’ll need different skills from our grads such as the capability to operate within informal networks, to build relationships across organisational boundaries, and to work within virtual talent pools in far less predictable ways than ever before. Therefore, the need to assess candidates fairly and objectively for a broad range of competencies and behaviours will become paramount.

What might look for in a graduate hire?

  • A level of comfort in dealing with ambiguity
  • An ability to network and make connections
  • The confidence to win hearts and minds
  • The skill to influence and sell our ideas
  • The emotional intelligence to connect, support and challenge

If this sounds like the type of graduate your organisation is targeting, then we need to think beyond traditional assessment techniques to engage with them and onboard them successfully onto a programme where they can develop their skills.

A new format for graduate programmes

Many of the employers we work with are making changes to their graduate programmes so that employees and organisations both get more out of their time together. In the past there was perhaps an expectation that a 12-month rotation in different departments would be focused on knowledge building and training. However, programmes are being revisited so that graduates have the opportunity to make a valuable contribution early on.

We can expect to see more KPIs, more tangible project deliverables, and more opportunity to demonstrate potential in the next generation of graduate training programmes. During the conference, which was focused on a vision for 2020, we demonstrated technological innovations that can help employers get the right graduate hires onboard.

Assessment for a new generation of graduate programmes

  • Interactive assessment homepages provide a realistic job preview of the working environment, the typical working day and colleague interactions.
  • Themed assessments offer a more engaging way to engage with candidates while assessing for the values, behaviours and skills needed for the role.
  • Automated post-assessment reports help candidates understand their strengths and development areas regardless of whether they are successful in their application. They help to reduce administration and the number of requests for individual feedback too.
  • Digital assessment centres eliminate the paperwork and ease the administrative burden involved in scheduling, organising, running an assessment centre and providing candidate feedback.
  • One unified platform such as Sova’s platform manages all candidate communication, improving candidate experience and reducing drop-out rates. Recruiters don’t need to spend time chasing up candidates or moving them to the next stage of the process.

Assess for the right things

Over the last 12 months there has been a renewed focus on candidate experience. While that’s a positive, it’s important that we don’t jump to solutions that look like fun for the candidate but don’t help organisations to make fair, relevant and consistent hiring decisions.

Your assessment tech needs to give you the confidence that you are assessing for the behaviours, competencies and skills your business needs for the future – without compromising on candidate experience.

We loved speaking to all the employers and universities we met at the AAGE Annual Conference. If you saw any of our demos and would like to see more of our immersive homepages, themed assessments or digital assessment centre please get in touch with the team.