With Millennials (those born between 1980-2000) now representing a significant segment of the working population and more and more of them predicted to enter leadership roles in 2017, businesses globally are keen to continue their Millennial recruitment efforts and build their future workforce.

However it is not only the big corporates that are recognising the value of graduate employees. Only 14% of graduates join these large companies’ graduate training schemes (Univeristy of Kent Careers Service). So what about the remaining 86%? One answer is that they join SMEs…

But how do SMEs attract talent when there is so much competition?

Take a look at my top five recommendations…

Development – recent studies have shown us that graduate development is now more important than ever, as it is a key requirement for job hunting graduates. This is a great opportunity for your business to grow its future managers, so seize it and start looking at how you can integrate a good development programme into your business or improve your existing one. If you’re looking for a complete solution to graduate development, find out more about the OPEN Programme here.

Pathways to progress – the driven, ambitious graduates of today are likely to want to be able to visualise the steps they could take within your organisation to reach the top. It is fantastic for them to have a long term goal to aspire to and great for you to map out where you would like this person to be in 1,2, even 5 years’ time. Explain how you will support them and lead them along the path, pushing when they need pushing and advising when they meet challenges. If you can show them you are enthusiastic about doing this, they will certainly hold you high in their considerations.

Promote benefits – Let’s remember that there is more to life than work! Fresh from the vibrant social scene that comes with being a student, job hunting graduates are interested in not just what you can offer them professionally but also how you can get them involved in the local community. CSR projects are a great way for new employees to form connections and build relationships, and can provide excellent publicity for your business! Does your organisation engage in charity events or social evenings out? Are there any professional networking communities in your local area? These may be things that you take for granted, but they are very important for newcomers to the professional world and for those who are relocating to the area. Make sure you tell your audience about these things by including them in your job advert.

Build strong relationships – 36% of graduate intakes are now filled by graduates who have already worked for their organisations, either through paid internships, industrial placements or vacation work (up from 31% in 2015 – AGR Survey 2016). Work placements give employers the chance to see students in action and give students a good understanding of what life is like working for your company. What better way to select the best graduates for your business than with what is essentially an 8-12 month trial period?!

Salary – This must be mentioned, although surveys have shown that salary is a much lower priority than the points explained above. As long as the salary you are offering is appropriate to the role, the other benefits that you offer are what will really make your offering attractive. We work with clients who typically offer salaries between £20K and £27K and we are sure to promote everything they have to offer! From staff benefits to the working environment, even the little things which you may deem as ‘standard’ for your organisation: perhaps you offer discounted travel, have a staff canteen, provide free fruit, organise regular social events. All this, along with an appropriate salary and details of development opportunities, will help you attract graduates, no matter how small your business may be.