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The Covid Generation, reneges and the cost of living crisis: Key takeaways from our early talent leader breakfasts

3 March, 2023

In February, we hosted our Senior Leader Breakfast series, designed to bring industry experts together to discuss the most critical topics in early careers. Hosted at Duck & Waffle, London, over 20 early talent leaders joined us to discuss the trends, challenges and changes they're experiencing so far in 2023, and shared their best practices ahead of a new recruitment season. 

The Covid Generation, the impact of the cost of living crisis and the increase in reneges were the topics covered in these discussions. We have shared the key takeaways from these conversations between our senior leaders below. 


Covid Generation

Lack of trust 

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the job market, especially for recent graduates. With the general uncertainty surrounding the pandemic and the changes this has brought to the workplace, employers are noticing a general lack of trust from the younger generation, particularly towards larger corporations. In response, many employers are asking how they can show graduates that they care and provide genuine support to those just entering the workforce.


Mental health

According to Bright Network's 2022 research, 91% of members look at what firms do for mental health before applying for a role. The impact on graduate's mental health and a lack of confidence has been seen by all the early talent leads that joined us for these discussions. They have noticed that graduates are looking for more social interaction after the pandemic and want to return to the office after spending so much time studying or working remotely. However, many graduates are anxious about being in the office or face-to-face with their team, highlighting a clear disconnect with what graduates want and what they are now comfortable with.

For online assessments, assessment centres and interviews, more graduates than before are requesting additional support and mental health provisions. Employers are finding it challenging to provide this support remotely or to offer as much support as they could in person.



Graduates are expecting more personalisation throughout the recruitment process and are only engaging with opportunities or communication that is hyper-targeted and relevant to them. With an expectation for targeted communication, employers are finding it increasingly challenging to engage meaningfully with the right candidates. 


Bright Network recommends: 

  • Sharing consistent, relevant content online, such as Day in the Life videos from current graduates in a relevant role will be more engaging. With this content, candidates will have a better understanding of what the culture, values and day to day activities consist of. 
  • Bright Network's Premium Employer Profile offers an inventory of content and social media options. Our expert team will support you in building this content and will share it with the most relevant and hyper-engaged graduates. 


Impact of the cost of living crisis 


52% of Bright Network members prioritise benefits and/or salary above a cause they believe in. With the cost of living crisis still at the forefront for most of us, graduates are also finding it challenging and are more likely to choose their next role based on the financial benefits compared to previous years. 

With many companies now operating a hybrid or remote working model, employers believe the salary difference between London and other cities is now redundant, as the commuting and expense costs have significantly reduced. This means employers may have to re-evaluate how they compensate those based in different locations. 


Application process 

With financial challenges in mind, the application process has also seen changes. While some employers are offering to subsidise graduates with hotel and travel expenses, others are unable to, but are instead providing online assessments as an alternative. In an attempt to reduce the costs for candidates, this comes with an increased concern for potential cheating during these assessments. 


Bright Network recommends: 

  • Leverage additional benefits of the role aside from the salary. If your company provides great development benefits or pension contributions, make sure to shout about them.
  • Despite concerns for cheating, offering both virtual and in-person assessments and interviews do provide alternatives for candidates who are financially unable to travel. 


Renege increase 

Social media impact

Employers are seeing an increase in reneges in the past year. Our research has found that 80% of Bright Network members would renege if a better offer came up. Our attendees highlighted that this may be due to a decline in brand loyalty, with social media playing a key role. Influencers on social media platforms such as TikTok, are said to be encouraging graduates to renege on multiple offers, keeping their options open when deciding on a job role.


Bright Network recommends:

  • In a recent employer workshop on 'How to reduce the risk of reneges', one member shared that companies who capitalise on social media make them stand out from others. Reach out to our team to find out how we can support you in creating engaging social media content. 
  • Ensure candidates are updated with company insights specific to their roles and department as this will keep them engaged and look forward to joining your company. Keep this communication as 'quality rather than quantity', ensuring the messaging is always personalised and relevant. 

If you are interested in joining our employer events, reach out to our team here to find more opportunities to get involved.