Why you shouldn’t extend your application deadline

As we start the long wait until Christmas, punctuated by Halloween and more snowy TV ads than any normally constituted human being can tolerate, we also enter the final weeks of graduate programmes applications.

As we start the long wait until Christmas, punctuated by Halloween and more snowy TV ads than any normally constituted human being can tolerate, we also enter the final weeks of graduate programmes applications. If you started a little later, you might try and close early to mid-January, but most of you will push to finish before the holiday season.

Although I am certain that you’ve faired very well, some might wonder whether they should extend their application deadline for a couple of extra days or weeks – and the answer is “no”.


Something didn’t quite go as expected

Extending your graduate recruitment deadline is not a voluntary thing. There is no joy in admitting something did not quite go as expected and that you haven’t hit your KPIs. You probably spent months prepping for this recruitment season, established some bold new plans that would help you improve on last year’s performance but, for known or unknown reasons, targets were missed.

More and more KPIs exist with regards to gender, diversity or location. This means that graduate recruitment has become increasingly complex and to make matters more complicated Generation Z is totally different to previous generations (more articles to come on Gen-Z soon!).

What happened?

Having spoken with over fifteen graduate recruiters over the last few weeks regarding this issue specifically, I thought I would share some examples of problems that companies have when it comes to reaching their KPIs.

  • Budget was set too late and rash decisions were made.
  • Recruiters now work on quite tight budgets: no more long lunches and vast advertising spends (and expanding your deadline will result in spending more money than initially planned).
  • Recruiters don’t have time for testing out new platforms, often because this implies a lot of research, testing time, stakeholder engagement and risk!

You can also go to recruitment agencies but this will further put a strain on your resources and, between two evils (no offence meant, evidently), many recruiters prefer extending their application deadlines.

What you are actually doing when extending your deadline

Here are the three main things you are implicitly doing when extending your deadline – and I am sure I have omitted some, so curious to hear whether you see other reasons for not pursuing this option:

  • You wait and pray

Yes, it seems absurd, but some recruiters just extend their deadline for the sake of extending their deadline. If you’ve exhausted all other possibilities, make the deadline extension a proactive gesture: you need to combine the extension with another activity that will help you reach your KPIs.

Don’t just wait and pray that fifty fantastic female candidates with a STEM degree from from your target universities will apply out of the blue.

  • You freak out your candidates

As you now know, there are five types of candidates at graduate level (if you don’t know this, download our white paper that tells you more about these five personas. These candidates do not necessarily have different levels of competencies but different ways of apprehending their future career.

One of these categories are the Rescue Me’s, which is the most anxious candidate segment. And when the Rescue Me’s see that a company they applied to extends its deadline, they can’t help but think: “the applications they have received so far aren’t good enough” and then think: “I am not good enough”.

Although these applications will not be withdrawn by the candidates, extending your deadline will not be positive for your company’s image – don’t freak out your candidates unnecessarily!

  • You stifle innovation

Extending your deadline also means less time for other things. Short-term solutions don’t help in the long run and, in order to find a more permanent solution, you need time to find one. By extending your deadline, you are taking away the exact thing you need: time! Don’t get stuck in a hamster wheel – don’t stifle innovation!

What you can do instead?

I’m sure most graduates recruiters have plenty of ideas. I’ve put some of my ideas together in an article here.

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