Don’t let COVID-19 stop you promoting your employer brand to the early careers market

Sally Bracegirdle
Sally Bracegirdle
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Now, more than ever, is the time to gain the attention and trust of students and graduates, and set yourself up for recruitment success in the future.

At this point in the COVID-19 crisis, if you’re a graduate employer it may feel like there’s not much you can do other than keep things ticking over. You’ve probably had budgets cut, projects put on hold and long-term uncertainty cast over best-laid plans.

While the light at the end of the tunnel seems to be far away right now, just remember that this will be over, and when it is, it’s important that you haven’t lost momentum for your early careers employer brand awareness.

For those employers whose recruitment has been impacted by COVID-19, it’s going to be hard to get started again when the time comes, but it’s going to be even harder if you pulled the brakes on your brand awareness entirely throughout this pandemic.

With the help of Sharon Spice, Director of Global Student Recruitment at ICAEW, and Gareth John, Chief Executive at First Intuition Cambridge, we’ve put together some practical, budget and social distancing-friendly advice on how to keep your employer brand relevant for the early careers market during the pandemic, whatever your current recruitment situation.

 

Set up a “register your interest” page

Put yourself in a good position for when you’re able to start recruiting again by setting up a “register your interest” page for your roles. There will be an influx of recent graduates wanting jobs (and companies wanting candidates) when the pandemic is over – get ahead of the game by having a ready-to-go candidate pool waiting for when your recruitment can be launched again.

Keeping your brand active reassures potential candidates that you will have graduate roles available in the future. “Students and those at the early stages of their career may be concerned about their job prospects and will need reassurance from employers,” says Sharon, and she’s right. A recent GradTouch survey revealed that a staggering 90% of final year students are concerned there will be fewer job opportunities for them because of COVID-19.

Help to reassure your future talent by showing that you are interested in them, and give them the power to put themselves at the front of the queue to hear about your opportunities when they become available.

 

Use your outstanding email credits

Reach out to any jobs boards or recruitment partners you work with and ask whether you have any remaining email credits – if you do, use them.

Even if you aren’t able to recruit right now, use your email credits to promote your brand, share what skills you’ll be looking for in future candidates and show students and graduates that you’re here to support them now, and you’ll still be here when this is all over.

“Employer branding is much more than marketing,” reminds Sharon. “It gives employers a real opportunity to demonstrate their values, purpose and culture. Those that demonstrate, through branding, that they are here to support people at an early stage in their career, and can be authentic in their empathy, will really stand out.”

 

Provide skills and career-boosting opportunities

While offering jobs might not be possible for you at the moment, take this opportunity to add value to your future candidate base by helping them to develop their skills and increase their employability. In turn, this will massively boost your employer brand.

“This isn’t the time to step back, it’s the time to step up as brands,” says Sharon. “Providing virtual internships or skills and assessment sessions online will all be really well received by individuals just starting out.”

Gareth agrees, serving a reminder of the impact the financial crash of 2008/9 had on early careers recruitment within the accountancy industry. “Firms didn’t feel the real down-side [of positions being cut] until 4 or 5 years later when they lacked an entire generation of newly qualified seniors just as the economy was in recovery and they desperately needed those experienced staff to resource income-generating activities.”

Whether it’s as big as delivering a virtual internship or as small as offering mentoring or advice for students and graduates, you’ll reap the rewards further down the line when you look to hire skilled, entry-level recruits.

“And when you can, check in on schools, colleges and universities,” adds Sharon. “Simply ask how you can help. That question in itself can go a long way.”

 

Engage with students through online platforms

You might not be able to take part in live recruitment events or to visit university campuses for a long time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t interact directly with the students you want to target for your future roles.

“In a socially distanced world, relying more heavily on remote recruitment tools is going to be more important than ever for employers to be able to position their brand message in front of the best candidates at the time when they are making crucial decisions about their future,” says Gareth.

Digital platforms like Kaampus, for example, offer a great way to engage with students, whether social distancing measures are in place or not. With Kaampus, employers can sponsor societies of their choice and in return, they’ll promote their brand and roles to their society members. If there’s a specific audience you want to target, simply link up with relevant societies.

 

Populate your social media channels with honest, relevant content

Did you know that nearly half of job-hunting graduates will research your company’s social media pages before applying, according to research GradTouch carried out last year?

Use your social media to “present a human face in a virtual world,” encourages Gareth, because how you communicate now could be the difference between candidates applying in the future or not. If the COVID-19 situation is severely disrupting your normal schedule of recruitment, being up-front about it with potential candidates – especially those who may have been looking out for your opportunities – on social media will help to establish trust and empathy.

Sharon suggests providing “virtual career talks” or “a virtual tour of the office either through photographs or existing video footage” via your social media, with a view to offer “advice on how to prepare for the jobs market” while real-life experience is hard to come by.

 


 

Although things feel stagnant at the moment, we hope we’ve shown you that there are steps you can take to keep things moving.

Utilising this time to recognise the importance of representing a relevant brand to the early careers market during this crisis and putting measures in place to connect with students and graduate right now, will help kick start your graduate recruitment process once life, or at least recruitment, returns to normal – whatever that may be!

We’d love to connect our student and graduate database with anything you’re doing to promote your employer brand or job opportunities right now – drop us a message to info@gradtouch.com and fill us in.
Want to learn more about digital society-outreach platform Kaampus? Our Head of Sales, Charlie, will be happy to talk you through it. Get in touch with him on charlie.pepper@gradtouch.com.

 

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