5 Ways to Compete for the Best Graduates this Season

“I’m sorry! I’ve already accepted an offer from another department.” 10 words a hiring manager never wants to hear – especially when it’s coming from a star candidate at the end of a long graduate recruitment campaign.

There is tough competition to attract and retain top talent in the federal and state government grad space, and it can be especially difficult for smaller government agencies.

As with any competition, it’s important to have a strategy to win. The ability to secure the best graduates can deliver huge rewards because they are motivated, excited to launch their careers, and open to learning to advance their skills and knowledge.

In light of COVID, travel restrictions and the rise of remote working, it is particularly relevant to take the time to reassess your approach to graduate recruitment and how moving to a more digital based process can be valuable.

At HorizonOne, our graduate recruitment campaign experts have a strong track record in helping our clients engage high quality candidates. Here are our top 5 tips for standing out during grad rounds so you can attract and secure the best talent…

1. Start early, decide quickly

Many students in their final year begin planning for the future much earlier than hiring managers realise.

If a graduate program is left too late and offers aren’t made until the late half of the year, it’s highly likely that many of the best candidates are already gone.

Where possible, start planning earlier in the year and aim to make offers by June or July.

2. Run a great marketing campaign

Without marketing, graduates may not even know they can apply for a graduate program in your department or what is on offer if they do.

Avenues such as The Big Meet, a nationwide career expo, are excellent ways to drive exposure and boost interest.

It is also important to have an established employer brand and talent attraction strategy in place to help engage with top graduate talent in the market. Partnering with an employer brand or recruitment marketing expert like HorizonOne can lead to higher applicant numbers and a greater chance of finding and securing top talent.

3. Communicate often

Graduates are far more likely to keep your organisation top of mind if you communicate with them often. Otherwise, there’s a chance they may become disengaged and direct their focus to other departments where they feel their chances are higher.

Keep applicants up to date on where you are at with the process, and consider sending automated but personalised emails before and after they take part in activities.

4. Stay on trend

Graduate programs have been evolving over the past 5 years as organisations attempt to keep pace with changing candidate expectations. Particularly in light of COVID and the rise in remote working, we’ve seen some incredible examples of clients adapting to meet current needs.

For example, one of our clients overhauled a well-established graduate recruitment process which was previously 100% in person. In its place, they introduced an interactive gaming platform and video interviewing which was really different and very well received by the candidates.

Many other clients have embraced newer methods too, including:

  • Online testing platforms
  • Psychological and cognitive testing
  • Gamification
  • Virtual assessment centres
  • Video interviews

These are also proving to be highly efficient for the hiring organisations. For those that typically attract a large cohort of applicants, asking each person to submit a 5 minute video and answer a few questions allows hiring managers to get a snapshot of the candidate – saving a lot of time on what was previously 30 minute interviews.

5. Partner with experts

Whether you’re looking to recruit 6 high performing graduates, or hundreds, it can be hugely beneficial to have experts on your side.

At HorizonOne, we have extensive experience assisting government departments to run successful graduate recruitment campaigns.

We support hiring managers with:

  • Designing selection methodologies
  • Written and group activities
  • Advice and guidance on how to deliver the campaign effectively
  • Engagement techniques to attract top talent
  • Plus much more

The HorizonOne Scribing and Campaigns team has over 20 years’ experience, and can comfortably handle all candidate management in-house – including managing the process through online systems such as E-Recruit or SuccessFactors.

Our scribing consultants can also facilitate the assessment centres, whether in person or online, so your team doesn’t need to allocate resources to manage the process. If it’s a virtual assessment, we always have an internal staff member on site via the online platform to provide ongoing support if any technical issues arise.

Importantly, we pride ourselves on keeping up to date with the latest recruitment practices and are members of the Australian Association of Graduate Employers (AAGE) and attend their conference every year. This ensures we can advise our clients on the latest trends and new platforms available to make their graduate recruitment campaigns more accessible, engaging and successful.

To find out how we can assist with your graduate recruitment campaign in 2021, contact our Scribing and Campaigns team.


Madeline Quinn
Senior Consultant – Scribing & Campaigns Management

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