Graduate Placements

Standfirst: Graduate placements can be a good way to create a young, dynamic team full of fresh thinking.

Every year thousands of graduates enter the marketplace eager for a new challenge and looking for a job. They can be a source of talented and relatively inexpensive employees and can bring a great deal to an enterprise, but there are pitfalls.

Booming graduates

Despite the sizeable rise in tuition fees, the number of people going to university continues to rise which means every year sees more and more new entrants entering the marketplace. For these people, it can be difficult – competition is high and it can seem impossible to make that first step onto the employment ladder. However, from your perspective as a start-up, they could be a great fit.

First, they are likely to be highly qualified and talented. Recent figures suggest you can expect to pay between £18,615 and £22,785 for new graduates although this will vary depending on your sector and their level of expertise. Graduates in the technology and finance sector, for example, might expect to be paid a little more.

Where to find them.

There are a number of options:

Universities: If you live in a university town this is a great source of local talent. They often have free job sites and posting boards and may organise recruitment fairs for local businesses which is a good opportunity to meet potential candidates face to face.

On the downside, this can be time-consuming. You may have to do some research and spend time contacting universities. Not every university will have courses with the expertise you need, and if you don’t live in a university town, it’s harder to access the latest batch of students.

Recruitment agencies: Recruitment agencies are a good source. They are full of graduates looking for local opportunities and can often do some of the legwork for you. They may offer an initial interview where they pre-screen potential candidates which means the ones you see will be better suited to your position.

They are a relatively fast and easy way to start a candidate search, but recruitment agencies can vary in their quality and expertise.

Even the cheapest often charge around 17%-18% of the candidate’s salary which can cause problems in a couple of ways. Either you’ll be paying over the odds or you’ll have a graduate who is being underpaid and is likely to be somewhat disgruntled, less engaged and spend half his day looking for other jobs.

Some may be more interested in offloading candidates than finding someone who will match your requirements. Others may not understand your industry or what you’re looking for which can lead to frustrating lost hours interviewing people who are not appropriate.

Online jobs board: The internet is also a lucrative source of new employees and there are a number of graduate recruitment agencies. The chances are there are some who specialise in your sector and can help you connect with the right people.

They can be relatively affordable although some will charge a fee to make your advertisement visible, and they give you access to a wider pool of nationally available talent. In a competitive jobs marketplace, many people are willing to travel or relocate for the right job.

On the downside, you might be inundated with poor quality and speculative applications. Wading through hundreds of CVs to find the few which are suitable can be time-consuming and frustrating. In a start-up, that’s time which you can ill afford to lose.

There are a number of programs – both from governments and corporations aimed at making it easier for businesses to employ students. One of the most interesting comes from Santander which works with top universities around the country to provide funding for SMEs looking to take students on internships.

Internships last for three months and interns are paid £1,000, 50% of which comes from Santander themselves. The programmes include some of the best universities in the UK and around the world and is a no-obligation try-before-you-buy prospect. If things don’t go well, then either party can end the agreement at the end of the three months.

Graduates have a huge amount to offer businesses. What they lack in experience they make up for in energy and innovation. They have huge potential and can grow and develop along with your business.