Most people think graduate recruitment is popular in the corporate world because graduates are seen as the best and brightest.

Whether people agree or disagree with this judgment, it becomes the framework for debate. Are graduates the brightest? Is the effort to train them justified by the return? These are valid questions, but they are not the reason corporates target this space.

There is a basic dynamic to the market for talent: the best people are almost never actively looking for jobs. Organisations spend inordinate time and effort trying to hold on to their best people. That might come in the form of bumper salaries and bonuses. It might be in the form of quick promotion. It might mean extra flexibility, paying for training and qualifications, or opportunities to travel. Companies will spend a lot of time figuring out what their best people want, and then finding ways to give it to them.

What happens when a top employee decides they want to move organisation? You can be sure their customers, suppliers, or an opportunistic friend will snap them up before they’ve even begun their job search proper.

The result is that the best people spend little or no time on jobs boards, or in the places you are likely to post your ad. And the wicked part of the problem is that because none of these people apply for your job, you won’t ever be aware you are missing out on those candidates.

The graduate market is an exception to this rule. ‘Graduation’ every year means, essentially, the entire workforce is fired from University, and comes onto the market at the same time. It’s a free-for-all. There is a higher proportion of A Players in the graduate space — not because they are graduates, but because the best candidates are all active. Everyone is job hunting at the same time.

It’s definitely a competitive space, but in our view it’s time well invested.

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This blog was adapted from one originally published at worthwhile.org.uk