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What we’ve learnt about graduate recruitment in 2015

At Gradvert, we are continually analysing the recruitment industry to understand how we can develop our services and provide our clients with the highest quality of talent. But what did we learn about graduate recruitment in 2015? Which ups and downs in the economy, job market and education sector have affected young people and their careers?

Here, as we approach 2016, we look back at the last 12 months and what’s been important in the world of graduate recruitment.

Over-qualification reaches ‘saturation point’

2015 had an extremely positive start for fresh young graduates, with predictions back in January that graduate recruitment prospects would be at a 10 year high, and recruiters expecting 8% more vacancies than the previous year.

Despite this, research from CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development) emerged in the summer which indicated that the UK was failing to create enough high skilled jobs, and that more than half of UK graduates are in what are considered to be non-graduate jobs. The CIPD said that this meant that “graduate over-qualification has reached ‘saturation point’ and is squeezing lower skilled workers out of jobs”.

This figure caused the industry to question why qualified candidates were not being recruited for the predicted increased number of skilled vacancies.

Swipe to apply

One way the recruitment industry is trying to get more of the right jobs in front of the right graduates is through the use of mobile technology.

Pioneered in the US, 2015 saw a rise in the development of mobile apps taking inspiration from the ‘swipe if you like’ model that has seen phenomenal popularity in the online dating world. Using a similar process to dating app Tinder, Switch is a recruitment app for candidates and employers alike that allows users to browse through vacancies that relate to their interests and are pushed through to their feed daily, and swipe to apply for ones that appeal.

Designed to help you “love your job search” and “connect with your future employer in minutes”, apps like these enable candidates and recruiters to communicate more quickly and easily and allows for exploration of wider talent pools – though they do eliminate the need for the personal touch and bespoke cover letters, which can often help recruiters to spot the standout candidates.

With figures from Entrepreneur telling us that the “the market for corporate recruiting software is topping $1.5 billion, and with 65% of applicants looking for jobs on mobile devices”, there is a huge amount of potential in mobile apps as a recruitment process and how they can help candidates and recruiters to find each other.

The search for softer skills

As quality of hire becomes an increasingly important metric, so too does the need for well-rounded candidates which show softer skills, even in a technical role. Entrepreneur James Caan has been very vocal on this subject throughout 2015; an article from him in HR Magazine states that “three quarters of employers say there is already a soft skills gap in today’s workforce and economists predict that by 2020 more than half a million workers will be significantly held back by a lack of these skills.”

Graduates are emerging from university with great technical ability in their chosen field, but a lack of soft skills like leadership, time management and teamwork are severely affecting their employability.

In 2015, James Caan joined forces with huge organisations including McDonalds, the CIPD, the Confederation of British Industry and National Youth Agency to conduct a 3 month consultation into how this issue can be addressed in the future.

This resulted in 4 clear recommendations:

  • The development of a robust framework to help more accurately measure soft skills
  • The need to embed soft skills into curricular and non-curricular activity in schools
  • Improve links between the business world and schools to enhance career education
  • Better cohesion between government departments

With Caan’s research demonstrating that the worth of soft skills to the UK economy is around £88 billion, it’s clear that this is an area we can’t ignore. Education institutions need to provide graduates with the tools they need to impress recruiters in the real world, and businesses need to consider the potential for training and development to enhance the softer skills of new recruits.


Companies have always been keen to promote their policy around inclusion and diversity, but according to Forbes, leading global organisations started to become much more visible in their efforts towards true diversity this year.

Potentially as a reaction to a 2014 Deloitte report that “diversity/inclusion was consistently reported as one of the least important issues on leaders’ minds compared to other HR matters”, in 2015 there was a notable shift in big corporate companies “either reviving and rebuilding their diversity programmes – or launching them from scratch.”

With 2015 seeing diversity being linked to innovation, the word ‘diversity’ is also being expanded beyond race, gender and sexual orientation, and is now used to refer to ‘diversity of thought’, with finding candidates to bring a new way of thinking and a fresh perspective being high on employers’ lists of desirable qualities in their candidates.

It’s clear that despite hopes for a more buoyant graduate job market, there are still challenges to overcome for both graduates and employers to truly connect and tackle the shortage of skills in multiple areas.

What changes have you made to your recruitment strategy in 2015?


How are you approaching graduate recruitment in the future?


Looking to bring on new top talent? Looking at setting a Graduate Scheme? then download the – Ultimate guide to Graduate Recruitment


Gradvert work with companies across the UK to attract, recruit and retain top talent, specialising in the transport and logistics sector. To find out more about the graduate recruitment services we provide, call us on 0203 693 7380 or email

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