5 things I learned working in Graduate Recruitment and Attraction
5 things I learnt working in Graduate Recruitment & Attraction from the Head of University Partnerships at MyKindaFuture, Blair England
"This week sees my last few days at MyKindaFuture, as I prepare to move to America with my husband for a secondment of a lifetime.
I wanted to take this chance to reflect on my time in the industry and share some of the key things I have learned, what I will take with me and what I wanted to share.
How is it that I am qualified to share this, you may ask? Well probably not, but I have a few years (9 to exact!) under my belt - having begun working in graduate marketing in a small way at my job at Penna, supporting with some graduate recruitment campaigns and starting to navigate the complex university market. My full baptism (by fire) was when I joined KPMG in the Graduate Marketing team, looking after university events and outreach in London and the South. It was a huge learning curve for me, on even just a basic level that I had never been to university in the UK but rather in South Africa and things work so differently there. But what an experience it was, real on the ground work with universities, career services and students. I learnt a great deal in a very short space of time and it was hugely rewarding organising large and small scale events, delivering presentations, skills sessions, living and breathing the KPMG brand, and talking to countless students helping (and hoping) to give them useful information in their career journey.
After 5 ½ years at KPMG and a move to Cheltenham to be with my now husband, I wanted a change in pace and direction and having worked with MyKindaFuture at KPMG, I approached them to see if there might be a place for me. I was particularly moved and inspired by MKF’s social mission (Giving every young person equal power & opportunity to shape their future) and the passion and commitment everyone demonstrated and lived by to help achieve this. The level of candidate and young person care, consideration and empowerment I had not seen before and I felt privileged to be part of it. I started out helping with graduate and apprenticeship recruitment, but quickly moved into using my university knowledge to lead the team to coordinate all our university activity and drive better, more meaningful engagement for employers and students. And once again I was working more closely with career services, students and societies and being closer to the action.
So, what have I learnt during my 9 years in this world?
It is all about relationships - being genuine and honest
It could be my Zimbabwean upbringing but I have found the most meaningful part of my job is when I have been able to be really honest and genuine with a student or careers contact, cutting through a lot of c**p that comes with the job and keeping true to myself and what we are trying to achieve. All of us who work in this area (should) have the young person at the heart of what we do.
You learn the most valuable insights by being there
All my best university knowledge and insights are from walking around the uni, speaking to staff and students, hanging out and being present. Getting to know the campus and city where the university is. Nothing beats all my university visits and getting to be part of such a vibrant life and community.
Face to face interactions beat digital promotion each and every time
This is an ongoing battle for employers and for us to encourage and recommend face to face events and engagements with students. Nothing will ever replace this (in my opinion), students value it and employers get first hand feedback from students which help to inform everything they do, as well as having meaningful interactions which can make all the difference. I think face to face engagement is under appreciated and utilised and I think it should be an important part of any employers strategy to recruit the right students into their organisation.
The industry is too fixated on numbers and data
I have found this a continual frustration and challenge in all my jobs around people’s fixation with numbers, ROI and data. What is a complex and important decision for young people (choosing a career, job and company to work for) can become an exercise in numbers and data for employers. Not everything can and should be boiled down to numbers, some things (like everything) in life are not measurable and you have go with your gut, intuition and wanting to be part of giving back and helping young people. If we are in a people industry how come so many conversations are about numbers?
You need to care about what you are hearing from young people
Sometime in the busyness of the job and industry you forget what you are trying to achieve and who you are trying to attract and recruit. It is important to never lose sight of the young person and listening and seeking out feedback and trying to make things better, more inclusive, easier for people who need a little bit extra to succeed. It keeps you honest, fair and genuine.
Thank you for reading and I wanted to take this opportunity to wish all my colleagues at MyKindaFuture success and keep up the valuable, hard work!"