Graduate recruiters need to rethink their recruitment strategy if they are going to compete with the financial houses which can offer ever bigger pay packets and perks, according to international research by Yellowbrick, the Glasgow-based employment consultants, writes Simon Targett.
In a study of 21 leading United States corporations, including IBM, Motorola, General Electric, Chrysler Colgate-Palmolive and Price Waterhouse, Yellowbrick have found that a range of employers are redesigning their recruitment policy as competition from Wall Street pushes up the price of the best graduates. The typical starting salary of a Harvard MBA is now $102,000, (Pounds 63,000). The great investment banks can also offer lavish "signing on bonuses", which can be as much as $100,000.
According to Colin Graham, co-author of Delivering the Promise: insights in graduate recruitment from leading North American corporations: "There is no way that non-finance companies can meet this competition head on. So they are looking for other ways of attracting the graduates they want. There's no point filling a vacancy with somebody who has an MBA and three years' work experience when it can be done as effectively by somebody from the local university."
Others are targeting a narrow band of universities, "probably less than ten", developing a knowledge of particular courses and lecturers, increasing involvement of senior management rather than leaving the recruitment process to the personnel departments, and raising the profile of vacation jobs which "act as an extended two way interview".
These strategies are soon expected to arrive in Britain, which is fast developing an American-style higher education system. As Mr Graham said: "The US has had a mass higher education system for the past 30 years and so has a head start in dealing with the problems, opportunities and issues raised." He added that the "signing on bonus", perhaps totalling around Pounds 2,000, could become an everyday employment tactic now that student debt is the norm.