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Youth unemployment in Australia recently reached 14.2%, the highest that it’s been since 1998.  For those that recently completed a university degree, the figure is even worse – on average, almost 30% of new graduates fail to find work within 4 months of graduating, and for some degrees, over 80% of students remain unemployed after 6 months. It’s fair to say that employers wanting to hire a graduate will be more than spoilt for choice.  Given the current over-supply of graduates, then, employers should find that securing graduate talent will be easier, and cheaper, than ever.

Or will it? With the cost of hiring a graduate averaging over $5000 per hire, and one quarter of new graduate quitting their jobs within a year of obtaining them, employers who don’t invest the requisite time and effort into attracting, and retaining, the right graduates may ultimately pay the price.  So how, then, do organisations make themselves more attractive to the best graduate talent, and ensure they retain them?  Here’s a quick guide to what today’s most talented graduates value in their future employers:

Flexible Work

Graduates today want flexible work.  This can mean a variety of things – for example, as children of extremely hardworking, office-bound parents, today’s graduates are far more likely to want different start and finish times, as well options to work from home and other locations.  In addition to this, they want career flexibility – that is, the flexibility to move upward and sidewards within an organisation, and also to try different career paths at different stages of their lives.  Therefore, if organisations are wanting to attract and retain top graduates, they should emphasise the flexibility and variety they can offer graduates, as opposed to the traditional linear (hierarchical) careers.



It’s no secret that today’s graduates may not remember a time without the internet or a smartphone, and this, of course, has a profound impact on their worldview.  With today’s graduates checking their phones over 110 times a day, organisations who embrace the latest and greatest technology will far more likely to attract, and retain, top graduate talent than those who still run MS DOS.  What are some great new technologies that are sure to attract and retain graduates? This new mLearning system from Teazl is a great example of a platform that would most certainly appeal to graduates due to its innovative combination of technology, design and functionality.  


Although graduates today have been labelled the most narcissistic and individualistic generation to ever enter the workforce, research shows that graduates actually prefer collaboration and teamwork over competition in the workplace.  Organisations can promote this type of working environment by encouraging leaders to model collaborative behaviour, increasing openness and transparency, and encouraging the development of social relationships between employees of all levels within the organisation.  There are also fantastic courses available on collaboration.  Sound like a lot of effort? Don’t just do it for the graduates – collaborative organisations are also more innovation and profitable.

Leadership: Re-imagined

Research shows that 72% of graduates would like to be their own boss.  However, if that isn’t an option, they want a boss who is more of a coach and mentor to them, and less of the ‘command-and-control’ type manager that many of us (of all ages) has experienced.  Although creating the great leaders we all want and need can always be a challenge, providing training on emotional intelligence, resilience, and creativity can provide a great foundation for transitioning bad bosses into leaders that graduates will love.

Organisations, then, who want to attract, and retain, the cream of the crop of graduate talent in these difficult times should focus on a combination of flexible work, technology, collaboration and reimagined leadership.  

Author: Janine Cahill

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