How to attract new talent in a 'less attractive' industry

A Graduate Management Admissions Council study undertaken in 2015 showed that more companies worldwide were hiring MBA graduates, with the top MBA talent hunters coming from the Energy / Utility, Products / Services, Consulting, and Finance / Accounting industry verticals.

Last year, The Telegraph advised graduates to follow their guide to getting a well paid graduate job, suggesting work experience, targeting in-demand roles [IT, Finance & Insurance being the top 3], and which industries had the most graduate vacancies as some of their selection criteria:

I'll be honest here, had these figures been presented in my day, I doubt that my 18 year-old self would have been so easily allowed to trot off to University to study for a degree that had not a trace numerical content. Based on The Telegraph's article, the Engineering, Finance, Services and Banking sectors appear very appealing to graduates! It is worth mentioning, however, that opinion on the most attractive careers for graduates differ across a number of articles depending on the stats and criteria used: HR & Recruitment rank top in Business Insider, and Accounting and Public Sector are top the list in a study by Oxford Royale.

But what if you're struggling to attract new talent?

If your company doesn't operate in an industry that automatically attracts new talent due to reputation, high salaries or job availability, how do you make sure you're not missing out?

- Get your digital house in order - you can be sure that graduates today will be digital-savvy. In turn, you need to be sure that the digital experience you offer meets their expectations - think about their user journey and the messages that will resonate with them. For example, 'pimp out your portal' and streamline your process; include engaging multi-media content about your company and real life examples of how the people working for you at the moment have had an experience that will be tough to match for the rest of their career! Your website and online application process is typically the first experience candidates will have of your business - make sure it's a good one!

- Speed up your recruitment process - graduates don't expect to wait around for responses to applications, emails, etc. They live in an increasingly fast-paced world [actually, we all do!], with high expectations of a fast recruitment process that in itself communicates organisation and a hunger to snap up their talent before someone else does - the graduate / employer relationship starts off on the right foot. Deliver a record-breaking application process, with regular and personalised communications delivered to the candidate throughout a short process that allows them to celebrate with you quickly, or move on if you are not the right match. 

- Balance digital activity with face to face action - career fairs are still a firm part of the mix of inputs that graduates use to learn about businesses and the opportunities they offer, and you still can't beat meeting potential candidates face to face. One of our own Product Marketers explains the value of a face to face meeting at a career fair: "I found out so much about the opportunities at MHR by meeting some of the people that had already lived and breathed the graduate opportunities available here face to face. I quickly understood their core values and business culture so I could conclude it was the fit for me!" [Stephanie Murtagh]

- Emphasise the niche points that make your industry attractive - so what if you're not H&M or Balfour Beatty? Graduates don't necessarily associate big brands with the best career opportunities. Sometimes, the less obvious industries and job vacancies actually offer the richest challenges and rewards. It's up to you to uncover these for your business and communicate them in the most imaginative ways you can think of. There are many examples of great graduate job ads, but this one for Eversheds is a personal favourite - a short, sharp ad that emphasises the importance of graduate opportunities and business fit:

- Get creative - If you are looking to find a certain type of talent, your attraction method must match and you can get really creative here. If you are looking for well organised, ambitious graduates with IT skills, why not run a programming competition to fill your graduate pipeline with details? If your talent pipeline needs creative types, use an off-the-wall campaign to really grab their attention and communicate to them in a way that resonates. And don't forget that 'scouting' can be a great way of finding talent that has the edge you are looking for. Who could forget the 'Employ Adam' campaign from 2013? - a billboard with supporting video CV and website. The company ready to respond to the ad [KEO Digital] got an enterprising young man by being ready to adapt to a different way of recruiting!

What a difference a month makes: Unemployed graduate Adam Pacitti initially paid £500 to use a billboard to beg for a job

This is an exciting part of HR! Beating your competition to talent regardless of industry because your attraction strategy is well thought-out, diverse and imaginative.