· 3 min read · Features

Graduate recruitment trends for 2018


2017 stood out as a year dominated by technology – and this will undoubtedly continue into 2018 too

This year, however, advancements in recruitment technology and the adoption of new strategies with different priorities will forever change the relationship between the employer and candidate, as businesses evolve to meet the needs of tech-savvy candidates.

So what trends will dominate in 2018?

1. A focus on behaviours over qualifications

With more first-class graduates entering the recruitment market it’s increasingly difficult to identify high-calibre talent. The Institute of Student Employers has revealed that 17% of its members are using a strengths-only recruitment process in 2017/18, and this number is only set to rise.

Three-quarters of HR recruitment professionals are now using psychometric testing, and 78% agree that it is a ‘powerful tool’ for hiring. The growth in use of psychometric testing reflects a general trend that organisations are hiring more for potential and attitude, rather than factors such as university attended, subject, or degree classification.

2. Movement to mobile application processes with ATS integrations

In 2016 it was reported that 20% of Millennials are now mobile-only, and it’s likely this percentage is already much higher.

Many companies have applicant tracking systems (ATS), which they use to harbour employee details such as qualifications and references. When a candidate accepts a job offer this data should be transferred seamlessly from the ATS to the HR system. ATS integration creates a data-driven recruitment process that facilitates a high-impact hiring process and better quality of hire.

In a society where you can order a taxi, book a holiday and join meetings from your phone, it’s time the recruitment industry got on board. If businesses want their recruitment strategy and perception as an employer to match up with their consumer branding a mobile-friendly approach is the next logical step.

3. Artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) will become a key element of the recruitment process

In 2018, with the rise of AI and automation, we will see a sharp increase in the uptake of AI-enabled chatbots to match candidates with jobs (AI candidate screening). AI will also automate essential administrative processes (e.g. indexing and filing candidate records), onboarding, and measuring performance. Recruiters will be free to spend more time adding value to the sourcing and selection process; conducting interviews and making offers to a considerably reduced and select pool of candidates.

I expect that virtual reality will be used to create interactive job advertisements, or enable candidates to go on a VR tour of the workplace. Candidates will complete VR assessments during the recruitment process to test their responses and judgement in certain situations. A mixture of augmented reality and virtual reality will also be used to enhance the employee experience by providing simulations of tasks and work challenges, better preparing workers for real-world situations before they have to face them.

4. SMEs will become the go-to for graduates

Research has shown that younger candidates tend to favour businesses that offer flexible working and a friendlier company culture; things seen as much more prevalent in smaller companies.

With 48% of 16- to 24-year-olds saying they would prefer to work for an SME than a larger organisation, it’s likely employers as a whole will move to accommodate candidates' shifting priorities. I think 2018 will see a rise in SMEs creating graduate positions. This means job boards will need to ensure SMEs are fairly represented in the graduate job search.

5. A mix of the above will improve social mobility

All of the above trends will lead to a greater emphasis on social mobility in the recruitment industry. By finally removing unconscious biases businesses can leverage new technology to improve diversity and widen their talent pool, and the recruitment industry is set to become radically different over the next 12 months.

Overall 2018 looks set to be a year where recruitment trends are dominated by more refined technological advancements that support the evolving relationship between employers and candidates.

What about Brexit?

The UK Graduate Careers Survey 2017 from High Fliers found that three-quarters of students are expecting a tougher and 'limited' job market following Brexit. In response sectors vulnerable to Brexit have seen a drop in the number of graduate applicants. Accountancy applications have fallen 21% compared to last year, with an 18% drop in finance and 17% dip in investment banking.

Last year, a separate survey by CIPD and The Adecco Group revealed sectors of the UK economy that are heavily reliant on EU nationals are already starting to experience skills and labour shortages due to Brexit.

Graduates turning down or reneging on job offers meant that more than 800 graduate positions were left unfilled last year, reducing the graduate intake at around a quarter of the UK’s leading employers. A robust graduate recruitment process supported by HR technology is essential to combat any post-Brexit decline in candidates.

Charlie Taylor is founder and CEO of student and graduate careers app Debut