Headlines: March 22nd, 2005

Online employment selection may mean that organizations are missing out on a diversity of talent to a greater extent than if they used fairly crude measures such as A-level scores or the class of an applicant’s university degree. Research published today shows that for all the efforts and money put into graduate recruitment, valuable talent is being ‘lost in the system’.The study has been carried out by into corporate graduate recruitment, by IES and the Council for Industry and Higher Education. They examined the practices of leading UK employers for evidence that their recruitment was meeting their business needs, was fair and was encouraging diversity.

The research shows that employers have benefited from processing efficiencies brought by the Internet, which also serves as a tool for attracting talent to organizations. Most employers. the study says, open their doors to all graduates through their websites and then let selection processes reduce the volume of applicants to find the ‘right’ number of the ‘right’ quality.

Linda Barber, IES Research Consultant and lead author of the report, said paradoxically, the power offered by technology had not been harnessed to explain or track the full range of graduate employment opportunities within organisations, outside centralised corporate schemes. This could mean that graduates entering jobs at local level typically remained hidden and there was a risk that they were being under used. This lack of tracking, she said, was also a weakness for tracking graduates emerging from corporate schemes into the wider workforce.

The study says the big challenge for employers is how to screen high volumes of applications fairly. Helen Connor, Associate Director of the CIHE, which was one of the main sponsors of the research, said organizations were increasingly recruiting online and this was helping them reach a broader range of graduates. “If they can give more information on the capabilities they are looking for, and help candidates self-assess their suitability, then they will be doing themselves and graduates a good turn. Too many graduates waste their own and employers’ time, and clearer guidance can help everyone,” she said.

In addition, the research says, reliance on the Internet and technology removes the personal touch, which had been shown to be instrumental in enhancing an employer’s reputation and brand in the graduate market place. The report urges employers to form stronger and wider links with universities and careers advisors rather than abandoning relationships and relying solely on the Internet.