Graduates paper - Transforming today’s graduates into tomorrow’s leaders

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  • Graduate TalentTransforming todays graduates

    into tomorrows leaders




  • Effective leadership at all levels within an organisation is critical for sustainable success. But how can you be sure that your graduate recruits will develop the skills needed to meet the leadership challenges of tomorrow?

    Todays fresh faced graduate hasalways been seen as a resourcethat can be developed for seniorpositions of the future. Even withthe dramatic rise in the number ofgraduates in recent years, one in two graduate recruitment candidates are considered to be potential future leaders.1

    The reasons for this are clear:graduates bring the latest thinking,have acquired a range of skills andknowledge from their universityeducation and are likely to bea source of innovation in anyorganisation. The careful selectionand subsequent nurturing of thebest and most talented graduatesis vital for the future success of anybusiness.

    Parity Professionals | Talent Matters!

    Developing graduate talent that can makea measurable and lasting positive impacton organisational culture and businesssuccess but it requires a carefully thoughtout investment strategy


    What kinds of training do graduates want?6

    Technical Skills 87%

    Communication 77%

    Project Management 75%

    Interpersonal Skills 73%

    People Management 71%

    However businesses may not realise this potential for a number of reasons. Firstly spotting those with talent, and more crucially those with the best fit to the needs of the recruiting organisation. Secondly supporting young graduates through the rite of passage from university to the professional workplace. And thirdly retaining graduates to ensure the early stages of investment in them materialises into contribution to the success of the business. Put simply, realising graduate talent is about identifying potential and investing in development so that each individual can reach their full potential within the business.

    The challenge of graduate development The first question is often how do we fit graduates into the organisation so that they can make a contribution to the business? Yet to engage with, and retain graduate talent, we might first need to gain an understanding of what graduates needs are and what they expect from employers. When looking to their futures, it seems the next generation of graduates may be looking for more than just competitive financial remuneration. Contribution from, and the retention of, graduate recruits may well be significantly enhanced by taking the time to think carefully about their aspirations and motivations and how might supporting integration into the business take account of this.

    A large graduate study (2015) carried out by Accenture led its head of strategy Payal Vasudeva to conclude:

    This years graduates are highly resourceful in making themselves relevant to employers. They expect good work opportunities and employer provided training, but many remain underemployed and dissatisfied with their work situation.2

    The Accenture study also concludes that 59% of UK graduates would trade salary for a positive social atmosphere.2

    A recent survey by the Hay Group involving 300 heads of engagement found that more than three-quarters of respondents (84%) believed that employers must engage their workforces differently if they are to succeed in the future3.

    Graduate recruits want employers to take an active interest in their professional development, providing creative challenges from the outset and offering a clear sense of career progression. Above all, graduates are looking for first-class training and support so that they can develop the skills they need to progress in their chosen career.

  • In addition, as learning via electronicchannels rather than face-to-facecommunication becomes more commonin universities and training more generally,more graduates are expecting the sameapproach to be taken to the evelopmentthey receive at work.

    Although the situation is changing significantly, many graduates have limited, or in some cases no, prior work experience (30% of the 2015 intake have no work experience). So, while they bring knowledge, energy and innovative thinking to the workplace, their ability to put it into practice in the work environment has yet to be proven. Not surprisingly, therefore, many organisations are looking closely at the effectiveness of their graduate development programmes.

    Managing the progress of graduate talent A successful graduate development programme begins with a student and ends with a business leader in order to cultivate and retain the best graduates, and of course those with talent are the most sought-after in the job market, investing careful thought and planning into a graduate development programme is essential. In a report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development6 (CIPD), employed graduates ranked training and development (94%) and career development (97%) as the top twomost important aspects of their job5.

    However, the journey is full of potentialpitfalls. If your programme is not alignedto the needs of your graduate recruits, you will be wasting your time and money and running the risk that your finest future leaders will move elsewhere.

    With this in mind, we have identified three critical points associated with the attraction, development and retention of graduates:

    Critical point 1Attracting, selecting and screening talented graduates is not something that can be accomplished instinctively. It requires a strategy. Without a carefully considered approach, you will lose out to other employers offering a more appealing employment proposition. It is critical to consider at this stage not only the brightest and the most talented, but the nature of your business, the kind of organisational culture you have (and perhaps the one may want to have in the future) and what kind of person is most likely to be successful. Recruiting the very brightest graduate is not good business if you are unable to offer them what they aspire to or indeed the business cannot find a way to realise their contribution.

    Critical point 2The psychological appeal of your workplace, based on its organisational culture, is a key inducement factor. Once a graduate is involved in the reality of your organisation and experiences the culture first hand, they will compare this experience with their prior expectations and decide whether or not to commit themselves further. They will learn and adapt accordingly. The opportunity to shape and manage expectation, to find ways of supporting graduate recruits through the rite of passage from university to work, may be crucial. Investment in coaching and mentoring is critical at this early stage to support individuals to see how they might realise their potential and build affinity with the organisation.

    Seeing and understanding how to become a valued professional contributing to the success of the business is not instinctive. Much of this is learned behaviour and a conscious support process to achieve this is likely to provide significant dividends for both the individual and the organisation.

    Parity Professionals | Talent Matters!






    Aspirational Culture(employer brand promise) (employer brand reality)

    Actual Culture


    The TRUST PointEmotional Contract




    Support &On Board


    DevelopmentDevelop & RetainSearch / ScreenSelect








    Critical Point 1 Having a stratgic approach to the attraction, selection and appointment of talented graduates

    Critical Point 2 The transition from the aspirational to the reality of the company culture - manging the psychological contract

    Critical Point 3 The transition into a pioneer manging the transition to empowerment

    Critical point 3When graduates have found their feet and are ready to be developed for future leadership roles, they will gain a clearer understanding of their value to the organisation and feel inclined to contribute, not just to the organisational success, but to the overall culture. This stage is critical as to whether the individual may be retained and all the investment made so far is realised for the benefit of the business and the development of the organisational culture. One of the most common complaints about investing in graduate development is their early loss. The demonstration of commitment to further development of career will be vital to the rate of loss of graduate recruits.

    Accelerating graduate performance By investing wisely businesses can take proactive steps to deliver this expertise and secure the benefits. Careful examination of a businesss needs and culture enables the identification of the knowledge and skills that successful new recruits should possess. A graduate training programme needs to be versatile and flexible, with coaching and mentoring at its core, to prepare young graduates to come of age professionally and become fully-capable, self-supporting leaders within an organisation. If carried out effectively, a well designed development programme will have an immediate influence within the business and make a significant impact to the bottom line?

  • About Parity ProfessionalsParity Professionals work closely with our clients to source and develop exceptional talent, build-ing capacity and capability in order to transform individual an