"Whilst students are concerned there aren’t enough jobs out there, they are keen to find work and talk to employers. However, when you look at the graduates, and their backgrounds you see that some of them are worried about different things".

Gemma Player shared this reflection and summary on piece of research from the ISE. Some of this, she observes, will we already know but at the same time focuses us on what we need to think about in communicating with students and how to cover this off in messaging and web content.

What are different students looking for in a job?

Different students, are motivated by different things, however:

  • Salary was particularly important for non-white respondents (90% vs. 84%).
  • Females reported that working for an organisation with a strong environmental policy was more important than men (89% vs 80%).

What information do different students want to hear?

Non-white and female respondents were looking for somewhat different kinds of information to white and male respondents.

  • They want reassurance that they would fit in and be treated well within the organisations that they were applying to.
  • Non-white respondents (94% to 81%) and women (93% to 81%) are more likely to want to hear about the experience of employees from different backgrounds, genders, ethnicity and sexuality than white respondents and men.

What assessment approaches are different students comfortable with?

  • White respondents are more comfortable with online interviews than non-white respondents (88% vs 83%).
  • While female respondents are more comfortable with online assessment centres than male respondents (84% vs 79%
  • 83% of white, male and privately educated respondents are comfortable with psychometric assessments in comparison to 64% of non-white, female and state educated respondents.
  • There were also some differences in who perceived recruitment processes to be fair. White respondents (76% vs 67%) were more likely to agree that employers will treat them fairly in the recruitment process. As one respondent put it…

"As a black man in the UK, it’s rare to see someone that looks like me at the other side of the table. A lot of the time, when I see that the hiring manager is white, I lose confidence in my application because applicants like me know they struggle in getting a job because of our skin colour."

Responding to these issues

  • These findings remind us that students’ experience of the recruitment process are structured by their backgrounds and demographics.
  • Most firms have targets around the diversity of their workforce and strategies to address this. But, it is easy to miss some of these more subtle issues about what different groups of students value or are concerned about.
  • Thinking about how you market vacancies could help to shift the kinds of students you attract. Similarly thinking carefully about the kind of information that you provide to applicants and how you reassure them that your process is fair will make a big difference.
  • It is only if you recognise that these differences in perception are shaping candidates’ experience of your process and think carefully about how you are going to respond to them, that you will be able to be truly inclusive.