Make your student recruiting more powerful – some trends to help

These last few months have been very exciting as the New Year lets us help businesses re-evaluate their talent acquisition needs. In particular, we use the start of the year to help transform approaches to student recruitment and this year has come with the launch of our new research with Universum.


The recruiter battle for the strongest graduates is becoming so intense with students more empowered than ever before – making engagement and candidate experiences the top recruiter priorities for 2018, and we have the data to prove it!



In a study of almost one million applicants and excerpts of responses from almost 40,000 business students across  four international regions, we bring you the must know student recruiting trends for 2018.


The report offers factual insights into why attraction and engagement are key to hiring the best future leaders and empowering them to choose where they start their professional careers. Based on the analysis conducted by WCN, the following UK conclusions can be reached:


  • Competition is tougher than you might imagine – Out of almost 375,000 UK applications scrutinised, only 3% go on to receive an offer compared to two-thirds who are screened out early on.


  • Fallout rates are big so engagement is king – Combined the numbers of candidates withdrawing, declining and reneging equates to firms missing out on 18% of talent in the UK signalling a stronger need for nurturing and engagement.


  • Diversity continues to be a big challenge in student hiring – Female applications underwhelm male applications in quantity but females are more successful than men at receiving offers. Research by WCN and University College London shows that even in blind screening, the language used to answer questions can influence invites to interview and more can be done to help recruiters understand how to break unconscious bias traits.


  •   Working Abroad is a booming area amongst graduates – Despite Brexit uncertainty, between 40 and 50% of applications come from non UK candidates and the numbers of international students securing posts averages at around 30%.


  • The prominence of elite universities is also a mixed bag – Whilst analysis of US data shows less leaning towards students with Ivy League backgrounds, UK data shows a bigger leaning of almost three quarters of offers going to Russell Group university students despite criticism from social mobility lobbyists.


  • Gaps in ethnicity still exist – There is a gap in roles being filled by Black candidates compared to White/Caucasian and Asian candidates – signalling a strong need for more focused engagement activity to prove inclusivity credentials amongst this community.


Universum’s data also reveals stark insights into what students expect to choose an employer as ideal for them including:


  • 48% of students would not choose an employer as ideal if they do not know enough about them and 13% would be put off if they felt employers did not recruit from their school.


  • Top drivers for choosing a graduate/rotational program include demonstrating business integration (52%), development opportunities (51%), mentorship (28%), leadership programs (36%) and having a variety of rotations (30%).


  • In every country profiled, having a work/life balance and offering security/stability in jobs were ranked as the top two career goals for business students. Being a leader or manager of people was third everywhere but Hong Kong where having an international career took precedence.


  • In every country profiled, working for an international company/organization or working for a privately-owned national company/organization were the top choices for what students most want to do after graduation.


  • Working in a friendly work environment was the top attraction preference for students in APAC but was much lower in the UK and US where high future earnings (UK) and leaders who will support personal development (US) were most important. Professional training and development appeared in the top 5 for all regions.


  • Universally across all regions, students selected social media as the most used and most effective communication channel and Facebook as the best of these websites. Employer websites and career fairs were second and third in every study.


Full regional breakdowns of how graduate recruiting is performing based on office locations can be found in the full report. I’d love to hear your thoughts on how these trends sound to you? Best of luck with your 2018 student recruiting campaigns!


[1] Universum Talent Research was conducted between October 2016 and March 2017 – the number of respondents for business students in each region are as follows: 1,771 – Hong Kong, 2,715 – Singapore, 8,677 – UK and 26,809 for the US.

Author: Kate Thomas

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