Graduate recruitment

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  • 1. Graduate Recruitment & SelectionRecruitment and selection forms the foundation of the core activities and processesunderlying human resource management and such activities include the acquisition, trainingand development, and rewarding performance of workers (Gilmore, and Williams, 2009). Thesuccess and sustainability of most organizations is directly proportional to skills andcompetencies of the employees. Equally, the entry point into any organization is dependent onthe effectiveness of the recruitment and selection practices of the hiring team within theorganization. In light of this, competition in the UK employment market has increasedtremendously over the past few decades. This can be attributed to the inability of theemployment market to absorb the growing pool of graduates from institutions of higher learning.According to Mohamed Branine, (2008, p. 497), graduate recruitment is one of the leading andtoughest challenges facing the majority of potential employers. Mohamed (2008) argues that thecauses of this phenomenon can be in part due to the complexities associated with the selectionof the most qualified individuals and as well, due to the availability of several graduates indifferent disciplines from Ivy League institutions. To that purpose, the demand for qualitygraduates will remain highly competitive, the most advantaged recruiters will be those withstrong recruitment policies, coupled with exceptional training and development policies. In someinstances, financial abilities of potential recruiters will play a substantial role in future graduaterecruitment and selection processes.Varied researches and studies have been carried out and written up regarding the aspectof graduate recruitment, the attitudes of graduates, and the attitudes of recruiters with respect tochoosing their employers, and as well, the perceptions of graduates towards their formativeyears in the employment sector. Covered in past researches also includes the influences ofmanagement executives on recruiting activities, the strategies and methods used to conductand communicate information regarding therecruitment process, and reliability and accuracy ofthe recruiting tools and instruments. Much of this research has, however, concentrated ondifferent aspects within the recruitment and selection process in different organizations acrossthe work.Scope of this Literature ReviewIn setting the context for the research undertaken in this paper, this research limits itself to thediscussion of graduate recruitment and selection process in the United Kingdom. It aims to
  • 2. cover the gap that existed in previous researches that have been covered and written up on thefield of graduate recruitment and selection process by limiting the aspect of generalizations andconcentrating on particular aspects. To that purpose, it will define the concept of graduaterecruitment, examine the changes and types in the strategies and methods of graduaterecruitment and selection used in UK-based organizations, and identify the reasons behind thevariations in the changes and developments. Additionally, this literature review will examinegraduate recruitment tools and mechanisms applied in various recruitment processes, and aswell, highlight particular aspects that interest employers or recruiters during the graduaterecruitment process (Raybould, and Sheedy, 2005). Finally yet important, theliteraturereview will provide a consistent conclusion based on the analysis of the graduate recruitmentand selection process in the UK and possibly offer recommendations regarding futureresearches in general, and the graduate recruitment and selection process in particular.In this literature review, the term „graduate‟ is used to refer to both undergraduate (bachelor’sdegree) and postgraduate (Master’s degree) holders from recognized institutions of higherlearning such as college or university. Therefore, any reference made herein referring tograduates will be referring to applicants holding either an undergraduate degree or apostgraduate degree. Majority of individuals in these categories is prepared to handle thecomplexities associated with diverse forms of employment and work. Simply put, theirinstitutions equipped them with the requisite knowledge and skills required in the employmentmarket.Graduate Recruitment and SelectionGraduate recruitment and selection forms an essential part in the central activities underlyingthe management of human resources within many organizations. These activities include theacquisition of talent, training and developing the talent, and eventually rewarding theperformance of the acquired talent. As such, the recruitment and selection process forms anintegral part of the works undertaken by human resource management and other specialistsinvolved in the graduate and recruitment process. According to Mohamed Branine (2008, p.500) “graduate recruitment and selection process refers to the process of searching for andobtaining potential job applicants from graduates in sufficient quantity and quality so thatpotential employers can select the most suitable candidates to fill in their job vacancies (p.500).” Universally, there is commonly accepted strategy or commonly agreed procedure ofrecruiting and selecting graduates due to the different recruiting needs and selection methods
  • 3. among many employers. The differences and variations in recruiting and selection methodsamong employers are dependent on the operations, size, and needs (Sackett & Lievens, 2008).The graduate recruitment and selection process is structured in such a manner that it involvesplanned rational activities comprising of particular sequentially linked phases within theemployee resourcing process.Graduate recruitment and selection process comprises of two aspects that can be broken downto its constituent parts. Having defined ‘graduate’ to refer to undergraduate and postgraduatedegree holders, the terms „recruitment‟ and „selection‟ can be defined as separate constituentparts. ‘Recruitment’ entails the process of generating a pool of capable people who qualify toapply for employment positions in certain organizations. On the other hand, ‘selection’ refers tothe process of whereby managers and recruiting officials utilize specific instruments to chooseparticular individuals from a pool of applicants in which a person or persons are more likely tosucceed in that particular job position and this is mainly dependent on the goals of managementand respective legal requirements. Raybould, and Sheedy, (2005, p. 63) posit that, however thetwo functions (recruitment and selection) are closely connected, each function calls for theapplication of different sets of skill and expertise, and they are fulfilled different members withinthe hiring process. As such, the recruitment activity can be outsourced to outside agencies butthe selection cannot be outsourced and this explains the reason as to why it is advantageous totreat the two items separately.Speaking of the roles, the recruitment and selection process plays a pivotally important role inany organization as far as shaping the performance and effectiveness is concerned. Forinstance, if organizations are capable of acquiring workers with the requisite skills, knowledge,and aptitudes, then, it becomes obvious that these organizations are capable of makingaccurate predictions regarding the future abilities of the selected employees/workers. Thispremise suggests that following an effective and efficient strategy in recruiting and selectingworkers enables organizations to avoid undesirable costs such as high staff turnover costs, poorperformance among workers, and dissatisfied customers (Raybould, and Sheedy, 2005).Eventually, it engenders a mutually beneficial employment relationship within the organizationand it can be evidenced by increased commitment among the involved workers. To thispurpose, the recruitment and selection process forms an integral part in the organizationalprocess of leading and managing people and the recruitment and selection process isincreasingly important in the strengthening of competitive advantage within that organization.
  • 4. The UK Graduate Recruitment and SelectionThe objective of this review is to examine and uncover the effectiveness of the recruitment andselection process among UK-based organizations. As noted, graduate recruitment and selectionprocess forms an essential part in the central activities underlying the management of humanresources within many organizations (Gilmore, and Williams, 2009). These activities include theacquisition of talent, training and developing the talent, and eventually rewarding theperformance of the acquired talent. Mohamed (2008, p. 497), even though the number ofindividuals entering the higher education market has doubled over the past two decades, manyemployers still find it difficult to recruit the type of employees that fulfill their hiring needs andrequirements. The list of desirable qualities among employers has become sophisticateddesirable qualities from job applicants. The Association of Graduate Recruiters reportsrecruitment and hiring agencies receive thousands of applications fromgraduates, but theemployers still find it difficult to find the applicants who meet their quality.Could there be a problem with the recruiting and selection process? Do graduateapplicants fail to fulfill the hiring needs, qualities, or qualifications? These are examples ofquestions that need answers in order to understand the reasons as to why employers still find itdifficult to get the right candidates for their jobs (Shiona, 2010). Despite the availability of limitedvacancies, potential employers have had to cope with increased volumes of job applicants.Mohamed (2008) argues that employers in the UK search for graduates, who are capable ofadding value to their economic strength and well, enhance their reputation. Employers oftenrecruit workers whom they can train and develop in order to utilize their skills and knowledge(Roberts, 2005). Nevertheless, what does it take to be a good graduate? What processes doemployers use to identify good graduates? Another important revelation of the recruitment andselection process within the UK job industry is the relationship between the employment(graduate) labor market and the higher education sector. While higher education is supposed tonurture and prepare graduates for the job market by enhancing knowledge and learning, it is nottheir duty to secure employment opportunities for the graduates. This can be attributed to thefact that the higher education market is responsible for preparing graduates to fit the needs ofdifferent employment sectors thereby making it difficult to provide training to specific individuals.An exploratory study by Carless (2007) revealed that institutions of higher learning play criticalroles in ensuring efficiency and efficacy among graduates. Studies by Silvester, Anderson,Haddleton, Cunningham-snell, and Gibb (2000, p. 16) point out that the graduate recruitmentand selection process in the UK has undergone tremendous changes in the recent past and the
  • 5. majority of such changes entail the streamlining of selection procedures to reduce costs. Amongthe highly adopted strategies are the use virtual selection methods such video interviews,telephones, and internet means.Traditionally, organizations in the UK recruiting industry found it a lot easier to recruit candidatesfrom the list of job applicants, who accepted any form of job offering (Mohamed, 2008, p. 498).In the contemporary UK job market, thousands of applicants can apply for vacant job positionsbut it becomes a difficult task to recruit the ideal candidate. This can be attributed to the differenttrends and developments that have occurred in the recruitment and selection methods.Increased competition among graduate employers, technological advancements, and socio-economic and political changes are other factors that have led to complexities in the recruitmentand selection processes. Keenan (2005) postulates that the recruitment and selection processin the UK follows a sequential process referred to as the resourcing cycle.Resourcing cycle of the recruitment and selection processAs earlier mentioned, the recruitment and selection process follows some defined sequencescharacterized by distinct and inter-linked stages. These sequences are referred to as theresourcing cycle of the recruitment and selection process. This cycle begins when graduatesidentify an available vacancy and ends when the selected candidate lives up to the expectationof the case by performing to the required standards. To graduate, the organization is aprospective employer while to the organization the candidate is evaluated to fill the vacancy(Raybould, and Sheedy, 2005). In order to ensure that best candidates are selected to aparticular post, it is forcefully crucial that the recruitment and selection process be handled in atimely and professional manner characterized by effectiveness and efficiency.The first step of the recruitment and selection process entails the announcement of a vacantposition within an organization. This move is subject to thorough decision-making by membersof the management regarding the strategic impacts within their organization (Tineke, & Maddy,2008). At times, situations exist where a vacant position resulting after an employee leaves areorganization is replaced with automated machines. If the decision is made that, the vacantposition requires to be filled, job specifications are drawn down to reflect the duties andrequirements needed for that job in addition to requisite skills, experiences, and personalattributes. The next step involves the process of attracting candidates in order to produce alarge pool of applicants from where the ideal candidate will be selected. Very often this function
  • 6. of the recruitment and selection process are outsourced to recruiting and hiring agencies inorder to eliminate the number of unsuitable candidates applying for the vacant position. Thethird step is the resourcing cycle that entails short listing the number of candidates to amanageable level whereby it will be easy to make an employment decision (Tineke & Maddy,2008). The selection process generates an optimum number of job seekers and the majority ofapplicants are rejected during this stage. Many things happen during this stage because therecruitment tools and strategies are applied during this stage including interviews, face-to-facemeetings, and other forms of communicating the selection procedure.Once the recruiting tools and methods have been utilized, recruitment decisions are madeand the actual selection is made. Nonetheless, the selection process does not mark the end ofthe job recruitment and selection exercise because their abilities and capabilities to perform theallotted job to maximum cannot be ascertained. To avoid uncertainties regarding the capabilitiesof selected individuals, a probationary period is imposed whereby the performance and potentialof employees is assessed and evaluated. This period marks the transition period or the postselection phase where the selected employees are inducted and integrated into theorganization. This is a critical process because the selected candidates are taught severalissues relating to the organization such as the organizational culture, normal routines, andethical processes within the organization. The final stage under the resourcing cycle is theevaluation of the entire post-selection process and conducting a reflection of the lessons learntfrom the entire process and as well, suggesting future implications.Statistics of Variations in Recruitment and Selection methodsAccording to survey findings undertaken to determine the causes of variations in recruitmentmethods used by employers in UK,each year, 91 per cent of employers and potential graduaterecruits prefer the internet as the ideal method for large organizations (Mohamed, 2008, p. 504).Closely behind the internet at 89 per cent was the use of career literature such as Prospects,Prospects Today, and GET directory ((Mohamed, 2008, p. 504). Other methods such as milkrounds and career fairs were less popular after the survey findings estimated its popularity at 45per cent each while recruitment agencies was the least popular at 15 per cent (Mohamed, 2008,p. 504).Similarly, the survey also considered the cause of variations in terms of selection methods usedby employers in the UK graduate recruitment and selection industry (Mohamed, 2008, p.
  • 7. 506). From the survey, the use of CVs and Cover letters was mostly preferred by small andmedium-sized employers while the use of assessment centers and aptitude tests were lesspreferred by most employers (Mohamed, 2008, p. 506). Short listing of respondents beforeinviting them for the interview was also revealed as one of the commonly used selectionmethods (Mohamed, 2008, p. 506). In situations where interviews were conducted, acombination of both single and panel interviews was used with variations in compositions ofmembers in the interviewing panel (Mohamed, 2008, p. 506).Speaking of reasons for the variations in recruiting and selection methods among the graduates,accuracy and relevancy of the selection and recruitment methods seemed to be the overridingfactor (Mohamed, 2008, p. 508). To that purpose, employers cited the employer application formas being the most accurate and reliable method for assessing the characteristics and qualitiesof potential employees (Mohamed, 2008, p. 508). This can be attributed to fact that employerapplication forms provided high levels of accuracy when gathering information, assessing thecompany’s competencies, and as well, in simplification of the selection process (Mohamed,2008, p. 508). In terms of cost saving, the CV and covering letter provided the highest costsaving levels due to the ease of sending and in providing more information. Equally noteworthywas the use of interviews in gathering crucial but first information about the applicants. The two-interaction, fairness, ability to fill gaps left by other forms, and the ease of validation were citedas the factors that promoted the use of interviews in the selection process (Mohamed, 2008, p.508).Types of Graduate Recruitment and Selection MethodsMilk RoundThis recruitment method involves the process of conducting annual recruitment programs duringcareer fairs different institutions of higher learning whereby potential employers and companiesconverge to give public lectures, presentations, and as well meet and/or interview final yearstudents. This strategy was immensely popular in the UK some two decades ago before theexpansion and development of the information age. Additionally, companies advertise andpromote the available employment opportunities directly to the participating students. Many atime, the associated companies involved in these milk rounds had periodic graduate traineeprograms that were specifically developed and designed to absorb fresh graduates, train them,and provide the requisite exposure to issues relating to the business world. Career services
  • 8. such as university outreach programmes and linkages were responsible for organizing the tradefairs in liaison with particular companies. However, this method slowly lost its popularity due totechnological advancements and increased use of the internet. Most companies have createdweb-based recruitment strategies such as CV databases, job boards, and recruiting agencies.Companies have even gone to an extent of using the internet for job advertising, filling onlineapplication forms, and even conducting online tests such aptitude tests (Mohamed, (2008,p.500).Employee ReferralsThe current employees within the organization can act as a rich source of providing linkages topotential recruits. They might hold vital information about graduates who can match theavailable position within the organization and such individuals might not be in a position ofresponding to normal recruitment methods (Shiona, 2010). This can be attributed to the fact thatmost of such employees might be occupied in other jobs and might not be actively searching forjob placements. However, they might be enticed to look for other available employmentopportunities if the right opportunity presents itself along the way. Such a strategy can beencouraged by offering bonuses to employees who provide leads through referrals.Recruitment Brochures, Magazines, and Print MediaThis involves the use of graduate recruitment literature such as GET Directories, and Prospectsof the UK because these brochures are direct targets for most graduates. Organizationalrecruitment brochures are also availed to participants during graduate recruitment fairs. Otherforms that are still increasingly used by prospective employers and companies includeadvertisement in local dailies and newspaper whereby job adverts are placed on the advertsand targets potential applicants due to the increased velocity of their circulation and area ofcoverage.AdvertisementsAlthough it can be related to the above-mentioned forms of job recruitment methods andtechniques, advertisements form an ideal method that is increasingly utilized by employers tomarket their job vacancies and openings. Adverts are often placed on local newspapers, andonline platforms. Majority of adverts are found on job websites because job seekers frequentlyvisit such websites.
  • 9. Job DatabasesThis involves maintaining a job filling system or job database for prospective employers usingresumes and CVs that have been collected over extended periods. Such CVs andResumes might have been collected from career fairs, manual deliveries, and as well from thecompany’s mail system. Once a job opening avails itself within the organization, the peopleresponsible for recruiting services visit the database and select potential employees from theavailable list.Employment AgenciesRecruiting agencies specialize in the provision of job recruitment initiatives whereby they screenjob applicants are subjected to tests relative to the positions they have applied for, based ontheir skills and qualifications. The costs of utilizing services from the recruiting agency might behigh but they offer the best services in terms of selecting the ideal candidates for particularpositions (Roberts, 2005). The long-term rewards are often advantageous to the hiringorganization.Internal RecruitingThis recruitment method is one of the most essential strategies of filling up available vacanciesbecause the current employees within an organization can be suited to fill up positions that haveopened up within their organizations. This employee matching strategy reduces the costsassociated with other traditional hiring methods. Hiring employees from within enables acompany to obtain increased value in terms of employee relation benefits. Equally noteworthy isthe idea that hired employees from within often demand lower compensation as compared tohiring employees from external sectors. Lastly, internal recruiting enables companies todecrease their expenditure turnovers through the provision of advancement opportunities forexisting employees.Career and Recruitment FairsCareer and recruitment fairs are often ideal places for promoting entry-level jobs for freshgraduates and as well, for those individuals, who are willing to change their jobs. Responsibleorgans within many universities in conjunction with respective companies organize majority of
  • 10. recruitment and career fairs. Such places are also ideal for enabling potential employers tocollect CVs and resumes to be used in future vacancies.Graduate Recruitment mechanism/toolsThe mechanisms used to select graduates for various positions vary from one recruiter to theother and it depends on the type of job being offered. Commonly used mechanisms and toolsinclude face-to-face interviews, internet, agencies, and tests, among others.Face-to-face InterviewsThis is the most commonly used recruitment strategy among many employers in the graduaterecruitment and selection process within the UK. Job applicants are required to appear before apanel of interviewers whereby general assessment is undertaken. Among the aspects examinedduring the interview is verification of the originality of documents and testimonials, cross-examining the application to find out the reasons and interests for applying the job, gauginghis/her awareness and knowledge concerning matters within the industry. During specificinterview sessions, the interviews are technically focused on the examination of particulardetails regarding the position, job description, and personality traits. The applicant is subjectedto a series of questions and tests to determine different capabilities and levels of sustenance forthe interviewee (Gill, & Banks, 1978). Follow-up questions are often directed to applicants toprobe deeply into more details about the applicant including his special skills, points ofdifference, and qualifications.Recruitment AgenciesRecruitment agencies are gaining increased popularity within the UK job industry particularly inthe search of graduates and executive talent. This mechanism is one of the most expensivemediums irrespective of whether an organization uses the retainer or the contingency firm.Recruiting agencies specialize in the provision of job recruitment initiatives whereby they screenjob applicants and subject them to tests relative to the positions they have applied based ontheir skills and qualifications. Recruitment agencies are experienced in matching thequalifications of candidates faster than the speed with which other organizations are capable ofachieving (Roberts, 2005). Most recruiting agencies have job databases with details ofthousands of applicants in addition to having a wider access to potential employees. Similarly,they have greater access to the criteria needed by the hiring companies.
  • 11. Online ApplicationThe internet is one of the fastest and cheapest mechanisms of recruiting workers whencompared to other traditional methods of recruiting workers. Organizations wishing to recruitworkers often post their jobs to internet sites for a modest period where they remain available24-hours a day. Potential job applicants will be able to view the detailed information about thejob opening and position being advertised and send their responses through electronic means.Organizations will be able to screen the applications by assessing the experience of applicants,their skills, and qualifications, and matching them with the skills required in that particular job.Due to advancements in technology, online screening processes and systems are capable ofperforming automatic filtering of applications send to the receiving mail. This mechanism oftenenables the organization to filter large volumes of job applications sent to the company.Psychometric TestingThis hiring mechanism is often conducted by qualified staff and involves subjecting applicants awide range of tests. To that purpose, psychometric testing covers varied abilities of applicantsinclude personality profiling, ability testing, and aptitude testing. Such tests often involve twolevels-A and B (Sackett, and Lievens, 2008). The first level involves aptitude testing and abilitytesting whereas the second level B involves personality profiling. Aptitude tests and ability testscovers a wide range of aspects that include mechanical abilities, numerical ability, verbal ability,general intelligence, sensory. and motor abilities. This strategy often allows feedback to beoffered to participants. Personality profiling involves testing particular behaviors of applicants bysubjecting them to things that might affect their suitability for some posts (Sackett, and Lievens,2008).Presentations and group exercisesPresentations involve giving applicants a particular topic and asking them to deliver apresentation on that topic within a given period. On the other hand, group exercises encompassthe division of applicants into particular groups and selecting a role-play or discussion fromwhere every member of the group will be expected to contribute. At the end of the exercise, thegroup should be in a position of coming up with a meaningful project to enable them to acquiremarks.
  • 12. Interests of employersThe interests of employers during the graduate recruitment and selection process vary fromemployer to employer, and depend on the type vacancy. Within these factors are varied aspectssuch as skills, qualifications, knowledge, experience, organizational capabilities, team spirit, andresilience, among others. To this purpose, graduates should prepare extensively when called forinterviews by being committed to the needs and requirements of the recruitment and selectionprocess. Any misunderstanding should be communicated in advance.According to survey findings from Mohamed (2008, p. 508), employers expectations varieddepending on the size and nature of operations within the organization (p. 508). Goodtransferable skills was more preferred to having excellent academic grades. As such, only 21per cent of respondents argued that the level of degree qualification was more important ascompared the degree subject. However, a large percentage (87 per cent) stated that the degreeclassification was more important than other factors.Summary of the ReviewThe graduate recruitment and selection process in the United Kingdom has undergone variouschanges over the past few decades and this is likely to bring an impact to future recruitment andselection processes. This can be attributed to the inability of the employment market to absorbthe growing pool of graduates from institutions of higher learning. The demand for qualitygraduates will remain highly competitive, and the most advantaged recruiters will be those withstrong recruitment policies, coupled with exceptional training and development policies.Traditionally, organizations in the UK recruiting industry found it a lot easier to recruit candidatesfrom the list of job applicants who accepted any form of job offering (Mohamed, 2008, p. 498). Inthe contemporary UK job market, thousands of applicants can apply for vacant job positions butit becomes a difficult task to recruit the ideal candidates.