Total Business Magazine

Beat the Big Players and Attract the Best Graduate Talent to Your SME

Every year a fresh cohort of students begin to plan for life after university by looking for graduate placements and jobs.

Naturally, they might begin their search by looking into the companies they’ve heard of before, but SMEs have so much to offer and it’s important they too review their processes for attracting and retaining graduate talent. Chris Unwin, CEO of manufacturing company L.A.C. Conveyors and Automation provides some top tips on how to go up against the big players in your industry.

As a business owner it’s easy to think that you’ll never stand a chance when it comes to attracting the best talent – especially when larger companies put a lot of time and money into their recruitment drives. But graduates are such an important asset to any firm, a ‘blank canvas’ if you will; they’re tech savvy, eager to learn and ready to provide new and exciting ideas. They’re worth the investment but you don’t need a huge amount of resource to get your name out there and put your small business on their radar. Here are a few ideas which can help you become an employer of choice:

Play on your USPs

You should use your USPs to attract graduate talent, in the same way that you’d use them to attract customers. What really makes your business stand out? It could be that you work at a family business that stems back for generations, placing high value in treating all employees like extended family, or that you’re leading the way when it comes to investing in research and development (R&D) and coming up with innovative solutions. Discuss your business’s purpose – the reason why your business exists in the first place – your ethos, your strengths and your plans for the future and talk about them with passion. Passion helps people get onboard and it’s likely they’ll put more into your company if they understand why you do what you do and what you’re trying to achieve.

Show you’re in it for the long haul

Students will be keen to know there’s a permanent place for them at the company, should everything go well with their placement or probation period. Alongside your USPs, this is something you should highlight at every given opportunity. Talk about career progression, any internal and external training provided and what support is on offer within the company. It may also be useful if you’re at a careers fair, for example, to take someone along who started as a graduate and is now in X position, and can answer questions on their own development at the company.

Discuss what matters

What employees are looking for in an employer is forever evolving. Today, it’s clear that achieving a good work-life balance is important, which is why so many companies are choosing to ditch the nine-to-five model in favour of flexible working. Employees also value great company culture, workplaces that take wellbeing seriously and feeling appreciated and valued. It’s not just about what they can do for you, but also what you can do for them.

Spend more time on social media

The graduates of today are highly tech savvy, and that’s one of the skills they can bring to a business, particularly those with a predominantly older workforce, such as manufacturing. If they’re using social media then you should be on those platforms too. Use it to keep customers and prospective employees up-to-date with what you’re doing and use it to promote any placements or jobs you have going – either organically or by investing in advertising to boost your reach.

Connect with universities

Universities are always keen to build relationships with local businesses and businesses can get involved in a number of ways, depending on resources available. Some of the things you can do include: becoming a guest lecturer, offering work experience placements and company days and sponsoring university societies/teams and final year projects. By allowing students into your workplace they’ll really get a feel for the surroundings and culture, and get to meet people they may end up working with in the future.

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