This article was originally published on ISE Insights on the 24th September. In it I summarise some new research by the ISE and Debut in which we answer the seven big questions that employers have about what students are thinking.
Are recruiters from Venus and students from Mars? Clearly not! But both groups often express frustration about not being able to figure out what the other group thinks. Students can go to the careers service, ask for help and meet employers to try and figure out what they want, but employers don’t have so much help when it comes to figuring out the ‘alien’ minds of students.
At the ISE we are always keen to spread a bit of mutual understanding around and so for the last few months we’ve been working with Debut to help employers unlock the secrets of the student mind.
What employers want to know
We began by asking Debut’s employer clients and the ISE’s employer membership what they wanted to know about what students were thinking. Fifty-five employers responded to this call during June 2020 and provided us with 147 questions.
We analysed these 147 questions and realised that they boiled down to seven big questions that employers wanted the answer to.
The seven big questions that employers wanted the answer to…
- How are young jobseekers thinking about and planning for their career?
- What is important to them when they are choosing a job?
- What sources of information are they using and finding helpful?
- How should employers communicate with them?
- What do they want to hear from employers?
- How do they feel about different assessment approaches?
- How are they feeling about starting work?
We then turned these questions into a survey and sent it out to the users of the Debut careers app. The Debut app helps students and young jobseekers to find and apply for job opportunities that they are interested in. It also allows employers to find candidates for jobs that they have amongst the app’s users.
We received over 2000 responses from young jobseekers. Responses were received from a diverse group of users of the app. Most were either current undergraduates or recently graduated from an undergraduate degree, but there were also several school students, school leavers and postgraduates.
There is a lot more in the research, but in this post I will just summarise the answers to those seven big questions.
1. How are young jobseekers thinking about and planning for their career?
Young jobseekers are positive and proactive in their career planning but they are concerned about the current employment climate. They worry that Covid is going to stand in their way of finding a job and many of them are rethinking their futures.
2. What is important to them when they are choosing a job?
They would ideally like to work for organisations that provide them with the opportunity to ‘have it all’. This includes good career opportunities, work/life balance, interesting work, decent pay and the opportunity to work in an ethical organisation.
3. What sources of information are they using and finding helpful?
Students and job seekers are using a combination of online and face-to-face sources and want to have access to both deep learning opportunities (like work experience and placements) and just-in-time information (like information posted to jobs boards).
4. How should employers communicate with them?
They are open to a wide range of forms of communication, but skeptical about employers encroaching into more personal forms of social media like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
5. What do they want to hear from employers?
Students and jobseekers are hungry for information from employers. They want to know about how recruitment processes work and how to succeed in them. But, they also want to know about what it is like to work in your organisation and what opportunities will be available to them in the long term.
6.How do they feel about different assessment approaches?
They are broadly comfortable with all of the main recruitment approaches that are in use and are mainly happy to switch to online recruitment where necessary. They have some skepticism about the use of psychometrics as part of the recruitment. Worryingly about a third of students and job seekers don’t trust employers to treat them fairly in the recruitment process.
7. How are they feeling about starting work?
Although students are worried about finding a job, they are generally pretty positive about starting work once they find a job. They are also happy to participate in virtual inductions and willing to start their career by home working where necessary.
What does this tell us?
Overall, this research tells us that students are feeling pretty positive during a difficult time. While they are worried about finding work, they are keen to do so and eager to engage with employers through the recruitment process. They are also willing to engage with virtual recruitment, induction and working and to try and make the best of the current situation.
If you want to find out more we would encourage you to read the whole report.