Debut Employer Insights

Debut's insights reveal how companies can best network with students

Here at Debut we often provide students with advice on how to successfully navigate networking events. From the right questions to ask to maintaining professional relationships, we help students establish the connections that will help them find their first job. But it’s equally important for recruiters to find the right candidates for their roles, and there are certain tips and techniques that can make this process much easier.

Debut is dedicated to connecting the right students with the right employers, whether that’s through traditional networking events, livestreams, games or psychometric assessments. We’ve passed on thousands of questions from students to employers through the app, each providing a unique insight into student priorities and concerns.

For the first time we’re using the extensive data we’ve collected all through mobile to determine exactly what students look for in an employer, what questions they want to ask, and ultimately what kind of connection is likely to make them apply for a job. From our analysis, here are some actionable insights you can put into practice when next engaging students at networking events:

Find the right students

Debut believes in quality over quantity. A networking event filled with thousands of unsuitable candidates is unlikely to be as effective as an event with a select group of more suitable ones. At Debut, we’re able to use our unique data-driven Talent Spot algorithm to find the perfect attendees for your event. Whether you’re looking for STEM students, female candidates or those with a first-class degree, we can specifically invite these candidates through a push notification sent straight to their phone.

From previous events, employers have reported meeting more engaged and relevant candidates, and are far more likely to offer fast-tracks leading to eventual hires. At our speed interviewing event back in October, ten employers met with 40 highly targeted students and offered a whopping 80 fast-tracks. All of these candidates were STEM students predicted a 2:1 or 1st class degree, and two thirds were BAME, proving that Debut events enable employers to engage with a diverse selection of high-quality candidates.

Show genuine interest

Speed networking

Research shows that passive candidates are more likely to be engaged with a company if they feel a recruiter is genuinely interested in them. Particularly with larger organisations, potential candidates are often put off by the thought they’re just one face out of thousands.

Taking the time to actually get to know candidates and asking them about themselves and their experience can go a long way towards making a brand seem more approachable and friendly. This will, in turn, encourage candidates to consider them as a potential employer.

Predict their questions

Through our many events, livestreams and Insight articles, we’ve conducted thorough analysis to track a range of trends in the questions candidates tend to ask, providing an amazing insight into the gaps in information employers are communicating to potential candidates. We’re also able to segment questions by the demographic of the users asking them – so we’re even able to narrow down the most frequently asked questions for female engineering students, or those predicted a 1st class degree. More to come on this in 2018!

The questions that candidates ask not only show their particular interests, but also the areas where communication is perhaps lacking. We analysed thousands of questions submitted to employers during our different activities throughout the year, revealing some interesting findings.

Key themes

Development/Progression: Our data showed that a lot of students are already looking long-term when choosing their first graduate role, and are keen to find out about career progression opportunities within a company. With such an unstable economic climate, today’s young people are seeking job security and stability, or at least the reassurance that a company is keen to invest in their graduates and support their careers long-term.

Skills: One of the most frequently asked questions from students is about the skills needed for particular roles. This might be because students are keen to identify the ‘buzzwords’ that are going to make them stand out in an application or interview, but also because our research suggests that schools and universities are failing to adequately equip students with the skills needed for the workplace.

Interviews: A source of much fear and insecurity for a lot of students are interviews, and our analysis showed that it’s this stage of the application process that is asked about the most. Students are often unsure about exactly how they should present themselves in an interview to appeal to particular employers, and are often seeking to be put at ease on this subject.

Company culture and values: Research shows that millennials value company culture more than any other generation, as it’s important for them to work for a company with values that align to their own. Research shows that the particular areas companies should focus on are social responsibility, commitments to diversity and a healthy work-life balance. This is often difficult for prospective candidates to gauge from websites and other promotional material, so they’re keen to speak to employees in person for a more authentic insight.

Employees/People: Following closely on from company culture, our research shows graduates are often keen to find out what kind of people they’ll be working with. When working environments are still quite an alien concept to many students and recent graduates, speaking directly to employers is a key way in which they find out about how they would function as part of a team, alongside other departments and groups.

Day-in-the-life/Projects: Looking at our data set, one common issue candidates seem to find when searching for graduate jobs is an inability to visualise exactly what they will be doing in a particular role. Job descriptions can either be too technical or corporate for candidates to get a clear idea of daily tasks, so face-to-face conversations with employees is the perfect opportunity to ask about types of projects they could be working on.

To find out more about how Debut can help you connect with and engage the right talent for your business, contact partnerships@debut.careers today.