Recap from AAGE graduate recruitment conference

November 3rd, 2022
HireVue Team

After a pandemic-enforced break, it was great to reconnect with customers, partners and the HR community at the 34th Annual AAGE Graduate Recruitment Conference

The theme this year was “stand out from the crowd” and focused on how early talent programs need to be reimagined and made sustainable.

It was an incredible few days full of ideas, inspiration and innovation around how leading organisations can attract, select and develop early careers talent to meet the future of work.

Whether you were there and couldn’t keep up with all of the note-taking or couldn’t make it this year, we’ve compiled a summary of the essential topics and takeaways that were covered so you don’t miss out.

Graduate recruiting in a post-pandemic world

Covid created a seismic shift for graduate programs - with many traditional ways of recruiting changing forever. Moving forward, businesses need to assess what changes should stay and what needs to be reevaluated. 

Although many organisations were already on the path towards a more digital recruitment process, the pandemic accelerated this and recruiters were forced to quickly consider how to  retain the human touch and the ability to look beyond a large number of applications that look very similar.

Once the initial struggles of re-engineering a recruitment strategy overnight had subsided, employers started to quickly see some advantages to the new way of engaging with early talent

  1. Recruiters were forced to move towards digital recruiting which provided the opportunity to move away from just considering specific schools. This allowed them to reach a much wider talent pool, helping to improve diversity and removing opportunities for unconscious bias from the process.
  2. Engaging with a broader set of universities meant that recruiters needed to work more efficiently and with a process that can flex and scale. This was even more important given that many graduate hiring teams were smaller than before the pandemic. Many started to use video interviewing and assessment technology to help them find the best graduate talent quickly and fairly.
  3. The pandemic made people of all ages reassess their values and the way they live their lives. This brought purpose and issues such as sustainability front and centre - both for candidates and recruiters.

Early years talent is no longer necessarily interested in dialing into another call to hear another career conversation, they want to know how they’re going to make an impact on the world, and they want opportunities to scale their career and learn in a progressive and diverse environment. We’re seeing companies secure the best talent that historically didn’t necessarily have the brand power to compete. Suddenly, Gen Z are choosing the companies that are driving change, and they’re not going to accept lip service or some average Corporate Social Responsibility piece – they want to see it in action.”

HireVue Customer

Meeting graduates where they are (fish where the fish are)

Gen Z is a different generation, with ideas and expectations of what they want their lives and employment to look like. They’re a generation that grew up with technology, so they expect their future employers and hiring processes to have adapted to it as well. Graduate recruiters who are able to rethink their hiring processes to address this new wave of expectations will stand out from the crowd.

Gen Z finds long, outdated application processes incredibly frustrating. Combine this with the current hiring surge, and it’s no surprise teams are being ghosted by candidates. Snapchat found Gen Z spends an average of 4 hours and 15 minutes a day on their phone. So it’s no surprise one report found that 79.4% of candidates prefer scheduling an interview via text over email or a phone call. Not to mention texts have a 98% open rate versus 20% with email.

Incorporating mobile-friendly and text-powered solutions is the answer to consistent and effective communication. Text-powered solutions provide an opportunity to keep candidates engaged from acceptance to start date. At a time when candidates will be speaking to multiple employers, maintaining communication and creating a soft landing into the business are both extremely valuable. 

Conversational AI-powered recruiting allows teams to engage candidates and even interns via direct messaging 24/7/365, so companies can start building rapport with the top candidates - before they accept another offer. Chatbots allow early talent to ask questions about your culture and purpose, and video interviews allow you to show realistic job previews and have questions delivered by previous graduates. All of this delivers a much richer and more authentic experience that is aligned with graduate values and behaviours

Choosing the right technology partners

You should focus on getting the process right first before you start looking at technology. However, once you are ready to do this, you should find a partner who can compliment your current systems by plugging gaps. They should be able to offer more than what you need today - preparing you for the unknown challenges of tomorrow. A simple checklist would be:

  • Technology: minimise risk and delays by selecting a proven vendor that has experience within your industry and is able to reference the solutions they have provided in similar projects - and offer the ability to talk to these references. 
  • Team: you want a vendor that is open to looking beyond the product roadmap with you and who proactively pushes you to optimise each step in your process. A diverse project team will ensure a successful integration and deployment.
  • Going beyond: find a partner that doesn’t just settle for what has to be done, but pushes the industry forward in their field. Whether that is building pre-built assessments that are backed by 100 years of organisational science, or a Customer Success team that provides guidance and benchmarks throughout an implementation process.

To find out how you can hire more graduates without visiting more campuses, you can find all the relevant solutions here.