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SHL Global Study Reveals a Cognitive Conundrum for Graduate Recruiters

SHL Global Study Reveals a Cognitive Conundrum for Graduate Recruiters

Research reveals behavioural trends and employability of almost 200,000 graduates

SHL, the global leader in talent measurement and a CEB company, today urges graduate recruiters to look beyond top talent defined by cognitive ability to access a broader range of highly capable candidates that will drive long term business performance. SHL’s research suggests that by taking too narrow a view of top graduate talent, employers are failing to open the door and tap into a wealth of other capable candidates with great potential. Therefore a new way of measuring graduate employability is needed, based on a broader set of behavioural qualities which are predictors of success in the workplace.

Insight from SHL Talent AnalyticsTM database reveals that the odds of finding top graduate talent globally that demonstrate eight behavioural traits, representing employability needed for effective performance in the workplace are just 1 in 15. However, there are nearly four times more graduates (1 in 4) that exhibit strong execution characteristics (such as being organised) but need help developing their engagement capabilities (such as listening and consulting effectively) or vice versa.

“This disconnect between what graduates offer and what employers are looking for has been an on-going struggle for many years now,” said Eugene Burke, chief science and analytics officer at SHL, a CEB company. “However, our findings suggest that UK graduate employers could be self-perpetuating a talent shortage by targeting the same top talent and discounting capable candidates. Recruiters are heavily focused on the & lsquo;best’ and brightest graduates and do not necessarily understand what & lsquo;best’ is for their organisation. This is creating unprecedented levels of competition in the graduate war for talent.”

Furthermore, companies are also losing considerable amounts of money and resources from poor graduate retention 24% of graduates claim their current role fails to interest them and lacks progression opportunities, and  according to CEB research a quarter of hires do not plan to stay longer than a year in their role, costing UK businesses an estimated &pound183m[1] annually.

Building graduates to be the & lsquo;right’ talent for your organisation rather than buying in top talent

“Recruiters must scrutinise whether they need the brightest graduates to fulfil future roles in the company, or even those that possess all of the behavioural traits which define top talent. Given that only 1 in 15 graduates are classed as top talent, we urge recruiters to reconsider their hiring strategy, reducing their emphasis on & lsquo;buying in’ this rare talent at a higher cost. Instead employers should focus on & lsquo;building’ talent, acknowledging that they will need to develop graduates’ existing capabilities from the outset through learning and development programmes,” said Burke.

By taking a more rounded view of graduate assessment looking at different behaviours and skills, recruiters can more closely align selection criteria with the needs of specific roles and the strategy of the business. This will enable recruiters to hire the right candidates and retain them more successfully, improving the ROI and effectiveness of the graduate programme.

“Forward-thinking graduate recruiters are starting to take a more sophisticated view of talent, not just assessing cognitive ability and selecting the brightest but looking at behavioural qualities needed to succeed in a role. This is creating broader talent pools for these employers to choose from and helping them to build their talent pipelines from the ground up so they don’t have a succession risk later on,” said Burke.

“These findings send a positive message to UK recruiters and graduates. By developing broader capabilities and exploring different sources of talent it will help recruiters build graduate talent pools for future job roles and create leadership pipelines. To capitalise on this opportunity, students also need to make themselves as desirable as possible to employers through volunteering, internships and extra-curricular activities. Ultimately this will help them to boost their engagement capabilities so they are work-ready and are able to cope with setbacks,” concluded Burke.

The SHL Graduate global study reveals trends from almost 200,000 graduates, analysing their behaviours and associated performance from 32 countries from 2006-2012.


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