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A new report reveals how marketing and recruitment processes should be organized to ensure your business is attractive to student job seekers. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the class of 2020 are facing unprecedented challenges when it comes to trying to secure their place on the career ladder. Debut and the Institute of Student Employers (ISE) came together to survey 2,000 students about what they wanted to find from employers, their attitudes to COVID-19, and how they feel about their career prospects.

One of the stand-out findings from the report shows that despite the pandemic and all of its challenges, 94% of students are excited to start work, with 42% still confident they will find their dream job upon completion of education.

A rapidly changing world has led to rapidly changing career paths

Before the pandemic hit, most students had a solid idea of how they would like their careers to go, including the paths they were going to take to get there. Now, 6 months on from the start of the pandemic, 57% of students say they are changing their ideas around their careers in light of the new challenges. Students are still determined to make the most of the opportunities presented to them though, with 74% still strongly focused on their career path, even if it’s not in the direction they originally thought it would take.

Fair treatment is the most important factor when choosing a job

For 98% of young job seekers and students surveyed, receiving fair treatment in the workplace was the most important factor when choosing a job or employer to work for. Being fair to your employees and mindful of the struggles they have faced in this over-competitive job market will go a long way to help them feel valued.

Many have also stated how they would like to work for an organization that would allow them to ‘have it all’. Simply put they would like to work for an organization that provides a clear career path, work/life balance, interesting work, decent pay, and a strong stance on ethical standards while working alongside like-minded people.

Communication and the recruitment process

Students and young job seekers prefer formal methods of communication such as email and LinkedIn to be used when talking to prospective employers about their employment choices, with 95% and 90% respectively, in agreement with these channels. Some students said they would be comfortable with employers communicating with them through blogs (37%), Instagram (36%), Twitter (33%), or Facebook (28%) however most are skeptical about this approach as they feel it encroaches on their more personal platforms. Make sure you’re approachable yet professional in your communication methods with prospective employees, as the wrong type of method could turn them away from your organization.

During the recruitment process itself, 91% of respondents said they preferred a face-to-face approach, but with the limitations on face-to-face interactions the pandemic has set on people, there is a greater emphasis on calls and video interviews. Luckily 86% said they were comfortable with an online approach where it was necessary, but the main concern was that a third of students don’t trust employers to actually treat them fairly during the recruitment process. We’re all going through a difficult time right now and it’s worth remembering that these students are potentially facing challenges no other generation has done before them, so empathy could go a long way during your recruitment process.

Job seekers are hungry for information

When communicating with potential employees, make sure you are providing them with as much information as possible about how to succeed in the recruitment process and what information you’re looking for in applications. Remember, when someone is looking for a job they aren’t just selling themselves to you, you’ve got to sell yourself to them too to make them want to work for you. Providing information on your company’s culture, including testimonials from current employees, career prospects, training, and social opportunities are key things to communicate during the recruitment process.

Now more than ever though, students and job seekers are interested in what an organization is doing for charities and community work. They are looking for opportunities to get involved in volunteering as part of the positions they are applying for, to help the initiatives throughout the company.

Excitement and enthusiasm are high despite the challenges

Overall, despite everything that 2020 has thrown at them, 94% of students are excited to get started in the world of work, with 93% even willing to start remotely if they need to. There seems to be a great understanding amongst students that they need to be flexible and adaptable in the current climate, even if that means starting off their careers at home, getting involved in online inductions, and remote working for now if needed.

The main worry seems to be focused on finding the opportunities available to them rather than making the most of the opportunities that are presented to them.

Michele Trusolino is co-founder and chief operating officer of Debut, the student careers app that is revolutionizing the recruitment sector.

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