Grad launch

Graduate schemes are all the rage – they’re a great way for companies to attract and develop talented university-leavers and an equally effective way for graduates to enter the world of business and get a foothold in a competitive industry. A graduate developed in the right way can become a significant asset to a business in terms of embodying and engaging with its cultures and philosophies while working productively and effectively towards achieving its goals.

However, while many businesses might be interested in launching a graduate scheme, it’s not a simple task. There’s no point developing one if you’re not going to be able to attract the right people to take part in it. The most talented candidates will opt for other programmes if yours doesn’t measure up. You have to think carefully about how you’re going to launch and market your graduate scheme in order to make the best impression on candidates.

Brand profile

Your brand profile will play a significant role in the marketing of your scheme. Those who have heard of the business will already have formed an opinion in terms of whether they would like to work for you or not, so you have to do everything possible to reinforce a positive image. Obviously, the content of the programme will be important, but if your reputation isn’t positive then nobody will want to enter into your scheme, no matter how comprehensive and ultimately beneficial it might be.

You should ensure that you’re promoting positive brand values and goals in order to show candidates what they could be part of and plant the idea of your business being a good one to work for in their minds as early as you can.

Make an early impression

In a similar vein, don’t just focus on university students – if you can make a significant impression on potential candidates when they’re still in secondary school, you could turn a place on your graduate scheme into one of their long-term goals that they spend the whole of their time at university aiming for.

Additionally, you should attempt to promote the scheme throughout the year, rather than concentrating on the last six months of the academic year when graduates might be thinking about their next steps. The more you can keep your programme in the minds of potential candidates, the more invested they will be in the idea of joining you.

Make an emotional connection

Too many businesses fall into the trap of focusing on the salaries that graduates can expect to earn, along with extra benefits such as gym membership and healthcare. What many graduates want, however, is to feel as though they’re an important part of a team or even a family, working towards a common goal. This ensures their engagement with the aims of the business and will positively impact their work.

It’s important, therefore, to emphasise that the business is going to invest just as much in each candidate as the candidate is investing in the business. Making the point that this professional and personal development will stand the candidate in good stead wherever their long-term position might be will reinforce the idea that you ultimately want the best for them and want to see them fulfil their potential.

Use social media

The platforms you use to promote your programme have to be relevant to your target audience. Where are the 16-21 age group communicating and learning about different topics? Chances are, they’re on at least one social media platform. You can use the likes of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and even Instagram to reach those people. Targeted, paid adverts can be used to promote your scheme to people who might not even know it exists.

You can also ensure that the business’s social media output includes posts and information about what it’s like to work there – if it looks exciting and rewarding, you have more chance of attracting the best candidates.

Get creative

Don’t limit yourself to web pages and social media ads. Wherever you think you can reach your desired audience, you should try to do so. Be as creative as you can with your promotion and marketing effort – try and stand out at university career fairs, make YouTube videos, take out eye-catching ads in publications. If you can conceive and execute it within budget and you think it has a good chance of working, why not try it? Use every platform available to make sure people know about what you’re offering and that it looks exciting and inviting.

Hit the road

The impact of actually meeting prospective candidates cannot be underestimated. Getting to speak to them face-to-face at careers fairs and other presentations to promote the benefits of the scheme is an invaluable way to gain an edge over rival programmes and keep yours in the minds of graduates when they come to make a decision. For example, you can explain the benefits of your scheme and answer any questions or concerns they might have.

This will help candidates connect more strongly with you, especially if you can bring along current employees who have finished or are currently part of your scheme to attend events and discuss their personal experiences on the programme.

When you market a graduate scheme, remember to be bold and creative so you can stand out from your rivals. Work out what makes you unique and promote that to candidates while ensuring that your perspective and brand is clear. Consistent and eye-catching marketing, backed up by a solid programme of development, is the key to successfully launching and marketing your graduate scheme.