Graduate recruiters still rely on ‘milkrounds’ despite digitisation, research finds

‘Human touch’ is valued and face-to-face visits may even have become more popular

Face-to-face ‘milkrounds’ remain a crucial part of graduate hiring, despite increased use of technology and social media in the recruitment process, research released yesterday concluded. 

Recruiter Alexander Mann Solutions’ study of more than 2,000 global HR professionals identified a growing trend of employers using online channels to target the best candidates for their job.

However, while many organisations make use of digital platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, LinkedIn and Twitter, the majority were still not confident in their mastery of online tools and additionally relied on face-to-face interaction during their recruitment process. 

“The online revolution has enabled employers to reach out to a much wider audience than ever before and to build sustained levels of engagement with candidates, which could only have been dreamed of in the past,” said Sandrine Miller, head of emerging talent consulting at Alexander Mann Solutions. “However, our research has found that the human touch – actually getting in front of individuals face-to-face rather than through a screen – remains vital.”

Stephen Isherwood, chief executive of the Institute of Student Employers, told People Management: “Evidence shows that despite the adoption of new technology by recruiters, face-to-face contact continues to be popular, demonstrating just how effective it is at engaging talent and keeping them interested.

“Over the last five years, use of student visits to attract graduates has gone up and, while video interviewing has grown rapidly, face-to-face interviews and assessment centres continue to remain the most common methods in the selection process.” 

Surveyed organisations used various means to connect with students, including developing alumni teams to sustain organisational engagement with universities and deploying volunteer employees to campuses to show the human face of the company. 

“There’s no denying that technology can streamline a recruitment process, but there’s no doubt that we also value human contact in all forms,” said David D’Souza, membership director at the CIPD. 

“They want to speak to a real person, make an emotional connection, and feel they have given their best possible impression with a person, rather than an algorithm.” 

Alexander Mann Solutions’ white paper – The Next Chapter –Your New Global Graduate Programme – also highlighted an ongoing trend of graduate overqualification for job roles. In early 2017, 3.98 graduates applied for each graduate role in the UK, while many were taking non-graduate positions.  

Almost half (47 per cent) of HR professionals surveyed said university graduates would be their most valuable source of talent in 2018, while more than a third (37 per cent) said they would be hiring apprentices. 

However, while many survey respondents reported genuine enthusiasm for recruiting via apprenticeships on a global scale, the research identified several barriers to making this work in practice. These included the fragmented nature of apprenticeship systems across different countries and the low concentration of people in senior management roles who had entered the workplace via non-traditional routes. 

“It’s been the case for generations that universities are seen as the highest levels of attainment,” D’Souza said. “What organisations and professionals need to appreciate is the breadth of skills and qualifications that are required to run an organisation successfully.

“There will naturally be some roles that require a university education or degree, but there are still roles advertised as requiring a degree where they really need someone talented and motivated. Organisations need to understand you can access those qualities without a degree qualification.”