Firms in the rural surveying sector are signing up to a collaborative graduate recruitment initiative led by Henley Business School.
The Rural Charter was proposed by the university last year following increased competition among employers recruiting rural surveying graduates. Under the charter all firms must issue their offers on the same day. Graduates then have a week to consider all the offers in front of them without any pressure to accept.
The charter came into effect for the first time in January and is likely to continue into the next academic year.
Nicola Putt, HR director at Dalcour Maclaren, explained why her firm signed up to the charter. “Some companies were putting graduates under real pressure, rushing through their recruitment process so they could be the first to make an offer,” she told HR magazine. “We had candidates declining second interviews with us because they felt pressurised into accepting offers from other companies.”
Putt explained that the charter also has other business benefits. “We want graduates to have the chance to make a proper decision but we also want people to come here because they really want to, not just because it’s the first offer they’ve had,” she said.
Putt said they expect staff retention among all signatories will improve now that graduates are making more considered decisions.
The firm, which is the only chartered surveyor to make this year’s Sunday Times Top 100 Small Companies list, is among nine signatories of the charter. The charter also applies to graduates of Scotland's Rural College, Harper Adams University, and the Royal Agricultural University.
Jane Batchelor, careers development advisor at the University of Reading's Henley Business School, said: “There are very few universities offering rural degrees so it’s a tight field and very competitive. Students were feeling pressured by employers.”
The Rural Charter has been welcomed by students. “It means that graduates are making an informed decision,” added Batchelor. “[Students] like that the sector is ‘grown up’ enough to embrace the charter. It’s also in an employer's best interests.”
The charter was inspired by a similar initiative for Henley’s property graduates. Signatories to that charter include JLL and CBRE.
The National Union of Students (NUS) also welcomed the charter. Rob Young, NUS vice president for society and citizenship, said: “It’s great to see The Rural Charter recognise the strain that graduates are under. We would like to see employers across all sectors considering how they can support students through the graduate recruitment process.”