Important drivers of graduate recruitment and selection

In today’s article, we take a careful look at the drivers of graduate recruitment and selection practices. Indeed, in the new world of work we are likely to see emerging challenges that previous generations of IO Practitioners may not have had to deal with.

Rapidly changing job requirements, the emergence of AI and machine learning, and changing educational contexts will shape the ways in which organisations recruit their graduate talent.

What is shaping the graduate challenge for employers at present and what will shape it into the future?

It is likely to be both traditional, perennial concerns organisations have always had regarding graduate talent as well as emerging threats engendered by the shifting and uncertain world-of-work:

Perennial graduate challenges

  • Lack of experience: Graduates have, by definition, less experience of actual work. So, when selecting graduate talent, organisations need to plan carefully regarding which assessment tools to use.For instance, measures such as experience surveys, reference checking, and others that rely on rich employment data will not return sufficient data to make selection decisions. Instead, high-prediction, low cost instruments such as ability assessments, work samples, and Situational Judgment Tests (SJTs) could be more productive choices.Because of low employment exposure, graduates may also have unrealistic or incorrect assumptions about what awaits them once they’ve joined an employer. Organisations need to account for this by developing, and possibly screening for, career maturity and realistic job expectations. To this end, tools such as Realistic Job Previews (RJPs) and SJTs may be useful in conveying a more accurate picture of what graduates can expect from their first employment opportunity.
  • Generational impact: Although the Millennial generation seem unique in many ways, the reality of new generations entering the world-of-work is not. Some initial evidence based on generational research suggests that differences and uniqueness between Millennials and older generations are almost certainly exaggerated and based on anecdote and interpersonal biases.That being said, Millennials may well have different expectations and experiences of technology. These may shape their recruitment and first employment expectations and behaviours more than was the case for previous generations.For instance, using more smartphone-ready assessments could convey important brand messaging to potential Millennial recruits.

    Even with the acknowledgment that generational differences are probably not as large as some think, the fact that managers in most organisations believe that Millennials require different leadership and employment strategies will have a very real effect on generational work behaviours.

  • Work readiness: Similar to concerns about experience, organisations have always valued graduates who can quickly be onboarded and who can rapidly make a meaningful contribution.In this sense, work readiness is an important challenge for graduate employers and recruiters alike. Well-designed onboarding programs, aided by assessment data, are some of the tools IO Practitioners can use to address this aspect of the graduate talent challenge.

Emerging graduate challenges

Unlike perennial graduate challenges, the new world of work also delivers unique, emerging complexities to the talent landscape. Although there are many, two stand out in terms of their direct impact on graduate talent management:

  • AI and machine learning: these technological factors will alter the way people work as well as create new jobs that had not existed by the time most graduates commenced their studies.As such, new graduate employees enter a job market that will almost certainly be impacted in multiple ways by the advent of sophisticated AI and Machine Learning technologies. These changes may in turn influence career decisions and choice available to graduates.
  • The shifting educational landscape: Many organisations are focussing more on in-house training and education, based on fears that tertiary institutions might not be able to adapt fast enough to rapidly changing career demands.This has implications not only for learning and development functions, but also talent recruitment and selection. For instance, it might become even more important than ever to ensure that graduates have robust learning potential as well as the capacity to adapt to new knowledge and career domains.

Closing thoughts

While these are exciting times for IO Practitioners in the graduate recruitment and selection space, there are also numerous complexities through which to navigate our clients. It seems clear that the talent landscape is changing and so too is our discipline.

We look forward to hearing what you think about the changing forces influencing graduate selection. Why not drop us a line at





Cut-e & Aon (2019). Talent 2021: Future trends Whitepaper.

Caballero, C., & Walker, A. (2010). Work readiness in graduate recruitment and selection: A review of current assessment methods. Journal of Teaching and Learning for Graduate Employability, 1(1), 13 – 25.