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Three top tips to increase pipeline conversion for hard to reach candidates

16 March, 2020

Getting a real breadth and diversity of talent into your early careers recruitment process and converting these into your graduate cohort is the number one priority for early careers recruiters everywhere. But one of the undervalued considerations is the challenge associated with candidates self-selecting out of the process.

This is a growing concern for many employers, because time and time again, we see traditionally under-represented groups such as Women, BAME, and state school candidates abandoning their applications at a higher rate than others in the process (Bright Network Research 2019).

At a recent event in our Illuminate series of dinners and workshops, the Bright Network team caught up with industry leaders from across a range of RL100 firms to explore this very issue and recommend potential solutions. You can catch the key points below:

Boost the confidence of your candidates:

One of the first challenges identified, was that many candidates perceive themselves as having a skills gap and therefore don’t feel ready for work or qualified for a certain position. These negative perceptions are particularly pronounced in those traditionally hard to reach candidates, and this can deter them from applying for roles in the first instance, as they are easily intimidated by the length and intensity of the process.

Whilst this is a multifaceted problem, we discussed some solutions below:

  • Contextualising your recruitment system – At Bright Network we contextualise our recruiting systems to understand how far a student has ‘travelled’ versus another – this enables us to cater for these candidates and offer support if necessary when they come up against unfamiliar application stages like psychometric tests or video interviews. A number of employers now do this, and it helps candidates understand why a stage is required, which in turn diminishes any potential anxiety.
  • Upskilling your applicants through the application process – Some firms also use their application process to upskill their candidates, which makes it more of a learning curve and less of a traditional recruitment journey. There are variations of this such as Bright Network Academy – our own e-learning platform, where employers produce modules to boost an applicant’s skills before or during the application process.

This supportive and skills building approach enables candidates to boost their skills even if they don’t secure a role, and opens up the candidate pool away from those traditional Russell Group universities where the confidence gap isn’t as wide – which in turn introduces more diversity of thought and experience.

Introduce visible role models:

A number of firms also found that when there are no visible role models from similar backgrounds it can make applicants feel as if they’re not the right fit and again this can cause dropouts. To avoid this, you should build your own influencers internally who can act as brand advocates for your company. Utilising your recent graduate cohort would be perfect as their recent experience of your application process would make them relatable to fresh candidates.

Look to trial some of the following:

  • Produce content such as articles, webinars, podcasts, or even videos where your brand advocates could share insights.
  • Get them to detail their experiences of the graduate scheme across social media and your recruitment channels.

A good example of this is when one of our Law partners used a recent Bright Network hire to produce YouTube and LinkedIn content to demonstrate the organisational culture. This led to great engagement and publicity for the firm.

Engage Females:

The final issue discussed was how to keep technically capable female students in the application process for tech roles. Several strategies were suggested including:

  • Highlighting a blind screening process, and introducing a diverse screening team with a strong female contingent.
  • A demonstration of solid internal female networks and affinity groups as part of the application process to keep applicants engaged.
  • The connection of applicants with female buddies within the organisation, (or at scale, the utilisation of webinars run by current and recent female graduates).

It’s clear that getting hard to reach applicants into the pipeline isn’t where it ends. A key part of the early careers recruitment battle in 2020 is fixing a leaky process to keep those valuable candidates engaged! If you would like to find out more about how Bright Network can help you boost the confidence of your applicants, regardless of background, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.