By Damon Anderson, UK MD at Employment Hero
It’s September. Summer is over and at dozens of large employers across the UK freshly-credentialed young people are in the first month of their “grad programmes”.
It’s no surprise that so many of the brightest graduates head to these programmes. They offer structured development pathways, extensive resources, and access to a network of experienced professionals. But there is no reason SMEs should let larger organisations take all this excellent talent.
How to fix that? A graduate programme of your own.
Large employers play on their size to construct graduate programmes.
Their reputation means their potential employees have probably heard of them already, and may even know others who work there. This reputation lets these organisations create strong relationships with top-tier universities and lets potential employees know they are serious about career development – if they really are. And their size means a graduate can envision an entire career there.
But SMEs can attack this weakness and play on their smaller size and agility.
They can emphasise that newer employees can get serious responsibility faster than they might at a huge bureaucratic employer. This will give them a far wider range of hands-on experience a lot quicker than a role at a larger employer will, and they could move a lot higher a lot faster.
Their work will be visible to top decision-makers in ways it is unlikely to be at larger organisations. Their CEO won’t be a far-away person they get to see on Zoom calls every now and then – they’ll be someone they might work with every day or every week. And it could see them helping to shape the company in just a few years.
Working at a smaller organisation often provides a unique, close-knit experience where individuals can make a significant impact. Highlighting this can attract many grads looking for a more personalised work environment.
Graduate programmes don’t have to be expensive. In fact, with careful planning and resource allocation, SMEs can develop effective programmes that rival those of larger corporations. Here’s a breakdown of what to consider:
This might seem like a lot to organise for one or two graduates, but if you get a good rhythm going, every year will be easier than the last. The talent you hire could soon be some of the best people your business has.
Obviously, graduate programmes won’t work for every SME, and SMEs won’t work for every graduate. But if you’re on the hunt for young talent, it’s certainly worth considering.