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The Student Experience

For many employers, graduate recruitment will wrap up in June. That represents an opportunity for a welcome sigh of relief as you’ve successfully met the hiring needs of your internal customers. But spare a moment for students. They’re your other “customers”. How has the graduate recruitment process treated them?

Let’s start with a profile of your student customer.

  • A strong final year student with a balance of good academic performance, solid work experience and extra-curricular achievements.   
  • Has an idea of what they want to do, but maybe not certain
  • Unsure of their chances of being successful in a graduate application
  • Juggling multiple graduate applications and assessment steps
  • Time poor as they balance study, work, extra-curriculars, a personal life and employer assessment demands

“Got an email this afternoon saying I’m invited to go for an assessment centre and individual interview. The date is right before my exams so idk [I don’t know] if this will be worth going into” (Whirlpool forum post)

Here is another lengthier Whirlpool post, which I think sums up the student experience.

“I really wasn't expecting just how time consuming grad applications would be when I first started applying earlier in the year, I've definitely had to make sacrifices to keep up with them. I've had to submit a few half finished assignments this semester since I just didn't have the time to complete them. Attending assessment centres take a huge chunk of time out of your week and often require you to skip classes that you are probably already falling behind in.
 
It can get fatiguing keeping up with application deadlines. I often forgot exactly which stage I was up to and even what streams a company offered and which I had applied too. Especially in the earlier months, I needed to constantly check when applications were closing to make sure I didn't miss out. It feels terrible when you think of a place that you would love to work for only to find out they had already closed.
 
Completing applications is a tough balance of quantity vs quality and there isn't really a right way to do it. Someone I spoke to wasn't submitting cover letters because it wasn't worth the time they took to write. I found that during video interviews, even if they would allow multiple attempts I would still do them in one or two goes and aim for 'good enough'. I could easily spend hours planning and retaking to get it perfect.
 
Thankfully, I've received an offer I'm happy with but I know the feeling of investing 20 hours into an application and attending a full day assessment centre only to be rejected at the last stage with nothing really to show for it. Grad applications are hard”.
 

It makes you stop and think, doesn't it. Remember they can be doing this six to ten times over.

There are still employers who have an initial application that takes an hour or more to complete. I’ve heard employers justify it, saying that in a way, it’s a “test” to see if the student really wants to work for them. 

I'm not sure if that will fly with Gen Z.
 
So how long should a graduate application take?

The Center for Generational Kinetics, a US workforce demographics research and consulting firm, surveyed thousands of Gen Zers in late 2018 and found that over 60% are willing to spend 15 minutes or less on a job application. (See the article under Gen Z).

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