If I could just do one simple thing to improve my graduate recruitment process, what would you recommend?
I'm asked this question regularly. And whilst I am not so naïve as to believe there is ever one silver bullet that works for every employer or sector, I have identified one simple thing that makes a massive difference and is under-used. I've done it myself for over ten years with great success. This change to your process can have a positive impact on your employer brand, candidate experience and student employability. What is this bright idea I hear you cry?
Tiered regret emails.
Yep, nothing ground-breaking or complex. No great technological advancement or nifty new marketing hook. Simply instead of writing one template regret email - write three.
For example if you have a maximum of 100 points available on an application form and those who score 80 or above progress to the next stage, your tiered emails to unsuccessful applicants might look like this:
Score range 65-80, the top tier of regret applications. They will get a vey positive email explaining they have just missed out on progressing further. You can go on to outline the typical things that the highest scoring candidates do that is different, or include links to advanced application skills advice. You might like to strongly encourage them to re-apply again at a later date or indicate that if things change with your recruitment numbers or applicant pool you may yet progress them further in the process.
Score range 40-65, the bulk of average applications. They will get a positive but constructive email explaining that their application is in the 'middle of the pack' and similar to the majority of other applicants. So by no means poor, but there is more work they can do to improve their chances and stand out from the crowd. You may also like to include links to good quality application skills advice or point them in the direction of their careers service for additional support.
Score range <40, the weakest applications. They will get an encouraging but constructive email encouraging them to seek advice and additional support from their careers service. It's always worth recognising here that a poor scoring application does not mean that they are a poor candidate, simply that they need to better understand what they may be doing wrong and hone their application writing skills. Highlighting typical issues like little/poor research, spelling, grammar and very short responses to questions may help them to improve on the basics. But they are most likely to benefit from skills sessions and 121 coaching via their careers team.
The impact of replacing your generic 'regret' email button on your candidate management system (or even worse not getting back to people at all) with these tiered emails is profound. And what's more if we all did it, it would be massively helpful for everyone involved in our industry. Students would know where they were going wrong and would improve more quickly, making fewer, better applications. Employers would have fewer, better applications. And Universities would be able to support more of their students who really need it.
So if you want to do something simple that has a big impact this year, I'd encourage you to implement tiered regret emails.