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Recruitment and HR Blog

How can you attract the best STEM graduates in 2021?

22nd April 2021

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While there are varying reports about the extent of the STEM skills shortage in the UK, there is consensus that it remains a significant and difficult issue to solve. 

Research carried out in 2018 calculated that the shortage was costing businesses £1.5 billion a year. Despite the pandemic affecting many companies’ recruitment plans, it’s no surprise that there remains strong competition when it comes to businesses attracting key STEM skills, including graduates. If you’re going to be in the market for new graduates this year, attracting the cream of the crop is going to require a carefully thought through approach. 

If your company has already been building up relationships with schools and universities, and offering placements to students, you might be in the beneficial position of having graduates who are already keen to be employed by your business. But if you don’t have connections created through placements or education links, or you need additional graduates to join you despite those connections, you’ll need to find other ways to catch their attention and encourage them to apply. 

Create job adverts that sell what you’re offering

To do that, you need to identify your company’s specific selling points. Then you must make sure they are articulated clearly, starting with your job advert content. Don’t end up just listing what all of your requirements are. You need to think about it from the angle of what will matter to the candidate you’re hoping to attract. “What’s in it for me?” is often referred to as the ultimate marketing question that needs to be answered in an advert to persuade someone to take the action you want. That’s every bit as true in talent attraction, especially in a fiercely competitive field.

Support your key job advert messages at other touchpoints too

Make sure the messages are being reinforced via all the other touchpoints where graduates might be able to find out more. That should include putting targeted information and case studies on your website and your career site, and via your company’s social media platforms. Make sure your application process is as user friendly as possible too – its professionalism will give them an early insight into the way you do things. 

What makes you stand out as an employer of choice for a STEM graduate?

So what types of selling points do you need to get across? Here are some suggestions.

  • Highlight development opportunities available

While large multinational companies are often in the fortunate position of having well-established high profile graduate schemes in place, there are plenty of opportunities within smaller-sized businesses as well. Smaller companies might have more flexibility to offer new graduates exposure to a range of different disciplines and experiences comparatively quickly, allowing them to rapidly develop their skill sets and be given responsibilities quite early on. 

Either way, whether at a large corporate or a smaller business, graduates will be keen to move into roles that are well supported and offer ongoing development through training, mentoring and coaching – so make sure all opportunities available are clearly highlighted.

  • Are there opportunities for flexible working?

Think about the practical details around working patterns that are likely to appeal too. It’s not only STEM graduates who appreciate flexibility of course. But there’s plenty of evidence that illustrates an increasing desire to work for employers who are able to offer some flexibility over working location and/or working hours and who provide other benefits such as early Friday finishes. 

  • Talk about the meaningful nature of the work

While it will vary from individual to individual, evidence suggests that the generation coming through into the workplace has expectations that its work will contribute towards something meaningful. Depending on the nature of your business, can you highlight the role your company is playing in connection to solving issues that are of public interest or concern, perhaps sustainability or health-related challenges for example? If there is clear potential for your STEM graduates to play a part in this way, it could well be something many of them will be drawn to.

  • Share progress around diversity and inclusion

Graduates are likely to be attracted to companies that understand the importance of diversity and are taking steps to create a workplace that is as fair and inclusive as possible. So if there are any specific issues that your company has made real progress with – gender and ethnic pay gaps for example - then use them to demonstrate your commitment. Highlight role models throughout your organisation to show what your approach to diversity means in action.

How else can you raise your profile amongst STEM graduates?

There could be other ways to increase your profile, such as offering opportunities for interested candidates to visit your premises and learn more about the work you do. If this isn’t practical for various reasons, including pandemic restrictions, you could also consider hosting online STEM open days where graduates can ask questions and hear more about what you do. You could also deliver remote employability skills sessions specifically targeted at STEM students.

Don’t end up falling behind the competition

With the end of their courses in sight, STEM graduates will already be looking at employment opportunities. If you want to attract the best into your company, you need to be taking steps now to advertise your vacancies. Talk to us today if you require expert help that ensures your job adverts will appeal to, and will be seen by, the right kind of talent.

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