How to keep your pipeline of graduate candidates engaged during the COVID-19 crisis

Lara Billington
Lara Billington

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has likely brought with it lots of questions and problems for your company, that need urgent answers and solutions. As a result, attending to your graduate candidates may have fallen much lower on your priority list. But now, perhaps more so than ever, it’s so important to keep your pipeline engaged – not just for their benefit, but for your company’s too.

As we enter our sixth week of lockdown, there’s a sense that the country is going through a hibernation period. For the majority of us, life has slowed down considerably and many companies, particularly those on the government’s furlough scheme, are putting things on hold.

But now isn’t the time to switch off from your pipeline of graduate candidates.

For final year students, who’re at a time in life that already feels quite uncertain, there’s now an additional worry about how the pandemic will impact the prospect of them getting a job, or starting a role they’ve already secured. Disengaging from your pipeline at a time when they need their questions answered and your reassurance the most, is discouraging for candidates. Plus, if you’ve put in the work to engage with and hire some talent already, failing to support them now could mean it all goes to waste.

This is a challenging time for employers and we don’t have the solutions to many of the problems you might be facing right now. But what we can offer is advice on keeping your graduate candidates engaged, so that by the time this crisis is over, you haven’t taken ten steps back. In recognising candidates’ feelings of uncertainty and being honest with them, you’ll gain a competitive advantage over employers who choose to remain silent.

Here’s some ways to stay engaged with your graduate candidates.


Be honest with your candidates

Even if you can’t tell your candidates exactly what the plan is for your roles yet, being honest with them about it is better than telling them nothing at all. 56% of final years we spoke to in a recent GradTouch study want to know what will happen if social distancing is still in place when their jobs start. Don’t leave them in the dark – tell them you’re still figuring things out. They’re not ignorant to the reality that things are just as uncertain for you as they are for them and you’ll both benefit if you’re transparent about it.


Find out how they’re feeling

Help make your candidates feel like they’re a priority by asking their opinion. Consider surveying them and use their preferences and concerns to influence your decision-making process. Our recent survey, for example, revealed that many final year students aren’t studying well during the pandemic and have concerns about meeting their predicted grades. This information will not only help candidates feel involved but it’ll help you gain a more comprehensive understanding of their current situations compared with how things stood when they first applied to your roles. This cohort of graduates is unlike any cohort that has come previously – show them that you recognise this.


Have a point of contact available

If they haven’t already, where possible, try to ensure that candidates have a point of contact to reach out to within your company. Bear in mind that the way your company deals with this situation and how you communicate with talent could be the difference between securing those candidates or losing them, particularly if they’ve been offered jobs by multiple companies.


Utilise social media

Increasing your presence online will encourage engagement between your company and candidates. Direct them to your social media channels, email them relevant media or case studies and encourage them to connect with your company personality and engage with what life is like on the team. Checking in and making your presence known will reassure your candidates that they’ve not been forgotten about and will keep them interested and up-to-date with your company.

For more insight on how the GradTouch audience are feeling in the face of COVID-19, you can find our recent survey on final year students here.

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