Early Careers sector focus 1

What do we mean by ‘early careers’?

Hiring apprentices, graduates – or anyone else you could define as “Early Careers” – has always been a challenge, but in 2019, these challenges are magnified for most organisations! 

Competition is high – particularly for in-demand skills such as tech – and the choice that candidates have is much broader and more diverse than it was 5 years ago.

People often talk about how to ‘crack’ the Gen Z and Millennial demographics but really, the main change has been the ease of access to information and the subsequent pressure that comes from living in a 24/7 society; everyone seems to be showcasing their brilliant life, job, achievements and career.

So how can we tackle hiring for this group?

This guide looks at the challenges we need to overcome and how we can position ourselves as the right organisations for the right talent. We like to see it as a snapshot of ideas, data and tips to enable you to think differently about how you tackle your programmes.

In Part 1 of this guide, we’re looking at 2 out of the 4 key components of the Early Careers recruitment process:

early careers sector focus image

1.  Attraction:

Attraction is without a doubt an essential part of the recruitment process. Get it wrong, and you could end up with too many, too few, or even unsuitable candidates.

Early Careers candidate attraction comes in many shapes and sizes – advertising, sourcing, careers fairs, employee referrals – you name it! We’ll be focussing on the advertising and social side of candidate attraction, concentrating on job boards, branding and social media.

early careers sector focus table

Job boards

We looked at a sample of 3000+ graduate jobs across a range of employers from within the last 12 months, using data from the ClickIQ platform. The jobs were advertised across ClickIQ’s network of pay-per-click job boards and aggregators including Indeed, ZipRecruiter and Adzuna.

What do the above stats mean?

% Organic Responses = the percentage of responses to Early Careers adverts that had no cost associated with them. The remaining 40% of responses were paid.

The other stats bring to life what those Early Careers advertisers were getting for their money. Each click – or view of an advert – cost £0.34 and every application cost £6.25. The average cost per click (CPC) for graduates was £0.34. By paying more, you will appear more prominently in general listing and – in theory – attract more and more applicants.

Looking at the stats here, we can see that the average conversion rate from click to apply was 14.1% but was HIGHER for organic responses than sponsored jobs.

Interestingly, Indeed was responsible for the vast majority of organic – or free – responses. Its average response rate in July, across all graduate jobs, was 140 clicks per job. Based on the average conversion rate of 14.1%, this should equate to 19.7 applications.

The impact of brand

Unsurprisingly, the biggest, more well-known and attractive brands had a significantly higher percentage of organic responses.

This means that smaller, lesser-known brands must work harder to attract similar numbers of candidates.

How to work harder:

In the short-term, you’ll need to spend more on paid advertising if you want to attract similar applicant numbers to those more attractive brands. 

The long-term play is one that will take time and need significant investment. You’ll need to raise the profile of your brand. On the plus side, eventually you’ll need to spend less on advertising.

The impact of talent scarcity and competition:

There is a definite correlation between talent scarcity (and competition for talent) and the cost of successfully attracting applications.

So what can we do with this insight?

early careers infographic

This graphic assumes 25 application are needed to make a single hire, based on average conversion rates from click-to-apply. As you’ll see, if you’re an attractive brand and you’re hiring for talent that is readily available (the top right quadrant) – your cost of advertising is a low £19.16 per hire.

If you’re in the bottom left quadrant – low brand attractiveness and low availability of talent – you’re looking at a cost of advertising of £200.50 per hire. These costs are all down to the attractiveness of your brand and the availability of, and competition for, the talent you’re looking to hire.

Social Media + Advanced Targeting = Attraction Magic 

  • Social media has become an essential attraction channel, for candidates of all types – magnified to an even greater degree for Early Career talent. 
  • The great thing about social media advertising is the data that the channels hold on their users. Everything from who they work for, the university and colleges they attended and courses they took; through to their hobbies and interests. And all those parameters (and more) can be targeted.
  • Whether doing this manually or using a tool like ClickIQ, you’re able to specify exactly the type of individual you want to target based on a vast number of data points.
  • Whether you’re looking to nurture talent through a branding campaign, or you want candidates to respond to ads for specific roles – social allows you to do all of this.
  • As with most job board advertising, social media now operates on a cost-per-click and budget basis.

2.  Conversion

It’s all well and good knowing how to attract candidates to your job adverts, and ensuring you have that steady flow of talent to your careers site, but what happens next?


  • Early Careers job seekers are not big fans of traditional application processes.
  • More than half of graduates are job searching on their phones, meaning the ability to apply via mobile is essential.
  • Early Careers talent want to ask questions – sometimes lots of them – and they don’t want to be trawling through your website for answers.

So how can we do things differently?

  • An effective solution to these challenges is to use chatbots.
  • Chatbots can sit on top of your ATS and careers site and collect the info you need in an engaging, conversational way.
  • Built and deployed properly, they can act as a smart way to provide relevant content and info to answer a candidate’s queries.
  • They can also make a candidate’s application on their behalf, ask screening questions, organise interviews and re-engage candidates from existing talent pools. 
  • Typically, companies who implement chatbots have seen triple conversion rates vs traditional application processes.

Top tip:

  • Know your audience and understand where humans are better than chatbots (and vice-versa). 
  • Various research shows that most candidates are comfortable engaging with chatbots – particularly at the application stage, for scheduling interviews and performing skills assessment. 

About ClickIQ

ClickIQ’s automated job advertising platform manages, tracks and optimises the performance of job advertising in real time, focusing spend where it’s needed most to reach both active and passive jobseekers.  For more information, visit www.clickiq.co.uk

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