By Gillian Hasley, eBusiness Manager, Monster UKIE

The yearly rush for the best graduates from the best universities is a crazy time for recruiters, but it's not just a process undertaken by big multinational businesses. Any employer can create a strategy to attract and develop a graduate workforce that will help their business succeed.

Most business would benefit from an influx of people who can bring a fresh level of enthusiasm and creativity to the workplace. Graduates see the world differently, having been filled with knowledge that they hope will set them on the way to a long and prosperous career.

Targeting your graduates

A graduate is a different breed to an employee who has a few years experience under their belt. They're ambitious, carry little baggage and are eager to impress in their first role.

However, they also think very highly of their knowledge and skills so will require an attractive package to entice them to your company:

- They expect a competitive salary

- They want a high degree of responsibility

- They want a formal training programme

It's not all money, money, money and a big brand name on their business card for career savvy graduates. The opportunity for interesting and varied work is just as important to people at this stage in their career so look to write job descriptions and develop training courses that will match that need.

There is also a high regard given to benefits such as health insurance, flexible working or holiday allowances and you can use these as sweeteners to make your offer stand out from the competition.

The key is to offer something that you can realistically provide that will allow graduates to put their newly acquired qualifications into practice.

Graduate recruitment strategies

There are four main methods of developing your graduate recruitment plan. These general strategies can be adapted and combined so you create a process that works effectively for your business:

High-Potential Management Schemes – This is where you target a small number of high calibre candidates with opportunities for fast-track career progression. They would be thrown in at the deep end and would be expected to contribute to key strategic planning after just a few months at the company. These are the candidates who will be in high demand so you will need to appeal to their individual needs with the package you offer.

Cross-Department Schemes – It's not always possible to work out which graduates will fit into which area of your business so this strategy allows graduates to spend a few months in each department to evaluate where their best skills lie. Training needs to be centrally managed so various departments don't spend time going over old ground or giving mixed messages.

Functional Schemes – If you have a specific role in mind for a graduate then you should focus your search on a specific skills or attributes they possess. From day one at your company, training can be tailored to that specific role and they can quickly become an integral part of your team.

Low -Level Schemes – If your business has a function that is undertaken by a large number of employees with a high turnover, you could recruit lots of graduates all in the same position. You will find that even when they are provided with similar training and development opportunities, some will drop-out, some will become settled in their role and some will shine, helping you identify the employees who can progress through the ranks.

Regular and detailed evaluation is vital whichever scheme you decide to use. Graduates can be employed on permanent contracts, although many businesses opt to put them on a fixed length contract so they can evaluate against set milestones and end the relationship if things aren't going as planned.

Have courage in your convictions – if someone isn't good enough, they're not good enough. Having underperforming graduates could upset the balance of those already working at your company as more of their could be time is spent answering questions or rectifying the mistakesof their underperforming team member.

Holding on to your graduates

Once you've invested the time and resources into finding and developing a good team of graduates, the last thing you want is for them to take their skills elsewhere.

You find very few people who stick with one employer for their whole career, but there are certain things you can do to help reduce graduate departures

- Implement set checkpoints for salary increases

- Give regular positive feedback

- Provide challenges and increased responsibility

When dealing with graduates it's important not to forget your other employees. Its easy to create resentment in the workplace so make sure everyone understands the graduate's sphere of activity. People love passing on their wisdom so look to involve your workforce in the graduate scheme wherever possible allowing them to become mentors to your new recruits.

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