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Educational News - Graduate Opportunities - Innovation key to recruiting top graduates

Date Uploaded: 06/05/2016

Graduate Opportunities - Companies are increasingly looking at new ways to ensure they attract the brightest and best

If you are an employer determined to turn a college campus upside down to shake out the best graduates and persuade them to come and work for you, setting up a stand on a busy thoroughfare, distributing leaflets and answering any questions from passing students probably won’t cut it anymore.

While many firms still do this, it is more often in conjunction with a range of other ways to engage with students on campus - and the more innovative and imaginative, the better.

For instance, Deloitte is currently working on follow-ups to its highly successful ‘Deloitte Difference University Challenge’ (DDUC) event, which it ran as part of its graduate recruitment campaigns over the previous two years.

This interactive 15-minute event, which helped the firm win gradireland ‘Innovation on Campus’ award last year, devises a series of business or innovation challenges and reviews how the participating teams approach them, including their thinking, creativity and analytics as well as their final solution, according to Ciaran Cullen, senior manager of talent acquisition at Deloitte.

“The aim of the challenge is to allow students to experience how we work at Deloitte, to interact with our talented people, and to allow students to showcase their innovative and creative capabilities,” he said

“The winning teams from each campus challenge are invited to our Dublin offices for the national finals, which provides an opportunity to experience the work environment and culture.” The winners of the national finals will get to take part in a global competition.

Cullen believes events like the DDUC and other campus-based efforts have contributed to a rise in the quality and diversity of graduate applicants over the past couple of years.

“The campus efforts allow our team to engage with students from non-traditional disciplines such as STEM courses, to hear about Deloitte and our diverse career opportunities.”

The DDUC sounds not dissimilar to KPMG’s ‘Case Competition’, which gives a team of four the chance to work on a business problem, analyse the issues that the business is facing, present recommendations to the panel of judges and compete for the chance to go abroad and represent KPMG Ireland in a global competition, which takes place this year in Dubai.

The firm also hosts two ‘Insight Days’ each year to invite students into its offices KPMG graduates, managers, directors and partners to get more of a feel for what life working for KPMG is like.

As two of the ‘Top Four’ accounting firms here, Deloitte and KPMG recruit hundreds of graduates a year from Irish colleges, so it’s easy to see why going the extra mile to engage with students on campus is worth the investment, but what about for smaller firms?

Newry-based First Derivatives, a firm providing software and services to the capital markets industry worldwide, has been in operation for 20 years and puts a lot of effort into its graduate recruitment every year, hiring about 150 from colleges throughout Ireland, plus another 100 or so from colleges in EuropeNorth AmericaAustralia and Asia.

Although it is happy to set up stands and offer freebies to passing students, graduate recruitment manager Elizabeth O’Hanlon says the firm has been keen to promote its brand among students studying business and finance through roadshows to demonstrate its ‘big data’ technologies.

Such events can also help dispel the lack of confidence some finance students might have about their tech skills, such as workshops in Kdb+, a software the firm uses for databases, she says.

“This involved a live kdb+ demonstration with a number of our consultants, allowing them to crack code themselves via their computers, which was closely followed by a HR presentation describing the careers involved with FD.”

The firm has also organised ‘drop-in’ interview sessions where it has been known to offer jobs on the spot, and which it plans to do more of during the next academic year.

But these on-campus efforts will also go hand-in-hand with digital marketing. “With the ever changing technical revolution, students today have a shorter attention spans than ever before, so we have embraced social media, short video clips and visual advertising to raise our brand in an more innovative way on campus,” said O’Hanlon.


Journalist: John Cooney