Why You’re Failing to Attract Graduate Talent

I’m a recent English Language graduate looking to embark on a writing career. Like most graduates, I’m brimming with ambition. The trouble is that the entry-level ads I'm seeing just don't inspire that ambition. Why not?

I’m faced with a dilemma: do I apply for a junior copywriter or online marketing assistant role, where the advertised responsibilities are often as basic as uploading pictures and answering the phones? Or do I go for more senior posts that I'm not technically qualified for, but which sound exciting and challenging? For graduates, it often seems like these are the two types of job that we are compelled to choose between – but recruiters can change that.


It's not so much the salary that puts graduates off entry-level jobs. Making a living is important, but many graduates have put themselves through University by working in bars and restaurants; record shops and cinemas. They're not necessarily prioritising the higher salary that a more senior position provides. They're looking to be challenged, engaged and given a chance to advance. We're looking to take the next step, not make our fortune (at least not yet).

I recently saw a job advertisement which included the following:

They are looking for a new Creative Team but they need to be special. This isn't about junior or middle-weight or senior. It's about signs of creative brilliance in ideas creation and the craft of copywriting.

Now I’m listening. This advert is snappy, concise and had a human touch - something lacking from so many job listings. It just so happened that it had a good salary attached too, but I'd have applied for it even if was a much lower pay grade. Why? It appealed to my creativity, my enthusiasm, and my ambition.

So with this in mind, what can recruiters do to make their graduate jobs sound more attractive?

  • GraduateGive examples of career progression routes. Graduates want to know there's a future in the job they're applying for.
  • Explain what training is available. Even if the job is on a temporary or short-term contract, graduates will be motivated to pursue an opportunity if they understand how it’s likely to strengthen their CV and skillset.
  • Focus on development. How will this job make your applicant an even more viable candidate in future applications?
  • Create descriptions of posts that sound challenging. After 3-5 years at University, graduates are used to a stimulating environment and they want that to continue into their careers.
  • Don't underestimate the value of advertisements which have a human touch.Your job ad is the first impression most graduates are going to get of a company, and if it appears cold or faceless then you won’t attract the best graduates.

We all use the phrase "job opportunity", but the key word here isn't job. It's opportunity. If recruiters want to attract skilled graduates who will really care about their new careers, they have to make the post sound like an opportunity, not just a way to pay the bills. Most graduates are looking for a job which will balance their need to make a living with their desire to start a career they can care about, and recruiters will be able to attract the top graduate talent if they keep this in mind.

campbell millerGuest post: Campbell Miller is an English Language honours graduate from the University of Glasgow. He uses the skills gained from his time there in his copywriting, blogging, and to win at Scrabble. 

How to write a job advert ebook

Ailsa Partridge

Ailsa is a technical writer and solutions engineer working at Instructure in London.

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