As they say, when one door closes another opens, and a closed door on tired outdated recruitment processes spells new opportunities for talented graduates.
With the door on outdated graduate recruitment practices slowly beginning to close, access to a top graduate job should become easier for those who really have what it takes to succeed.
I’m talking about the announcement from EY (previously known as Ernst & Young) of the end to selecting candidates based on academic grades alone. They will instead rely on the strength-based assessment tool the company has been using to help in its selection process since 2008 in order to “give every candidate the opportunity to demonstrate their strengths and their potential”.
So rather than demanding a minimum of 3 B’s and a 2:1 grade EY will seek to recruit from the widest and deepest talent pool, regardless of background.
If you’re a graduate who strongly feels you have what it takes to make it as a top accountancy, law or banking professional this should level the playing field. And although it will to some degree increase competition it will open up that competition to those who are smart, sharp and can think on their feet but didn’t quite get the grades or go to the right university or school.
Old ways of recruiting no longer work
It will only be a matter of time before other top recruiters also abandon their tired and outdated recruitment processes for more modern and workable ways to attract the best graduates into jobs. If they truly want to see and attract the talent that exists out there other top graduate recruiters won’t be able to resist following the example of EY.
And here’s why. Recruiting graduates purely based on academic qualifications is no guarantee they will make a successful accountant, banker, lawyer or manager of any sort. It doesn’t work. We’ve heard the lamentations. Two-thirds of employers, particularly in the financial, IT and engineering fields, say they struggle to fill positions. They’ve been saying this for years. They can’t find the graduates they need because most young people graduate unprepared for the workplace. They don’t have the right skills and as a result graduate job positions remain unfilled for months and sometimes years.
Finding graduates with the right skills is tough
Employers say graduates show no real interest in the industry they are seeking to work in. They turn up at interviews without bothering to learn anything about the company they are applying to. And they often lack adequate communication or numeracy skills and have little commercial awareness. These are skills that can be only acquired through non-academic means, such as through extracurricular, work experience or voluntary activities.
By moving toward a way of recruiting that will enable them to capitalise on strengths developed outside of the classroom what EY is saying is that potential doesn’t always show up in university grades or in those graduates who went to the highest performing schools or the Russell Group of universities. There are better ways of finding good people.
EY says the changes to their recruitment process will widen social mobility and in fact have further plans to launch an online resource to teach young people what it takes to compete for top jobs. The Future Ready programme will include guidance on four core personal skills: leadership; commerciality; networking and influence. EY says it is modernising the workplace by getting rid of the outdated ways of selecting candidates.
It would be unfair for me to close without warning that any move away from a grade-based assessment for recruitment doesn’t negate the need for a certain amount of intellectual ability. You still need to be able to meet the high intellectual standards required to succeed in a top graduate role but your academic qualifications or lack of them will not prevent you from making that first step. Good luck!