Netting best graduates for the job

Dedicated graduate websites are increasingly important to recruitment and more companies are going down this route

There are many factors that make up a good graduate recruitment website, but setting up a dedicated site or ‘hub’ rather than sticking information about graduate programmes in a sub-section of the main organisation website may well help set you apart from others.

Of the ten firms shortlisted for GradIreland's Best Graduate Recruitment website, ESB (, Jameson Distillers ( and Musgrave ( have gone down the road of setting up a standalone site, while Aldi and KPMG incorporate their graduate programme information into wider dedicated careers sites (, The ESB were the eventual winners of the 2016 award. Aldi came in second place followed by Jameson Distillers in third place.

Although it only setup a standalone site back in 2014, it's hard to imagine the Public Appointments Service's graduate recruitment programme doing anything less given the number and range of individual departments, agencies and public service organisations that it recruits for (

Indeed, the website has broadened its information base to include sections that link to graduate opportunities in public sector organisations within the EU and further afield.


As well as being last year’s winner in this category, attracted 187,000 unique visits in 2015 and, for its last graduate competition (for administrative officer grade), it fielded no less than 4,500 applications.

“Our website and social media presence certainly puts us on the map as a graduate recruiter, but we would like to see continued growth every year,” said Sinéad Coleman of the Public Appointment Service’s executive search and selection unit. “We are hoping to increase diversity in the public sector, so a growth in our online presence will help us to reach a wider audience.”

Setting up its dedicated website last year certainly appears to have an immediate impact on the graduate recruitment programme of grocery retailer and wholesaler the Musgrave Group.

"Our application numbers increased from the previous year with the number of viable candidates also increasing," said graduate programme manager Siobhain Scanlon. "Feedback from the recruiting managers indicates higher quality candidates coming through to interview stage."

“We had struggled in certain areas in the past to get strong candidates, for example, the likes of finance. The big four would take on massive numbers of graduates, so it can be challenging to get a large number.”

She adds that most of the graduates they recruited in the last couple of years have been very good, she adds but having a greater scale and variety of graduates coming through can only benefit the company.

She said the Musgrave Group would previously have incorporated information about its graduate programme into the main company website with just three or four pages of information.

“It spoke in very general terms about Musgraves and the business, as opposed to giving detail about the graduate programme itself. It didn’t really break down the information in terms of the graduate roles.”

Setting up a dedicated website can also create opportunities to deepen the use of social media platforms in a bid to generate more online interaction and drive traffic to it.

“Last year with the new website it gave us the opportunity to start engaging more interactively with people across different various social media,” said Scanlon, adding that her team was better able to signpost the new website to students at recruitment fairs and other events as a dedicated resource for potential applicants.

Scanlon says anecdotal feedback so far from users has been very positive in that it has helped them prepare better for the selection process by providing more detail on the kinds of tests or exercises involved as well as interviews.

The website has already generated a 14 per cent increase in the number of graduate applications to the firm, and enjoys a bounce rate of 27per cent, which is considered a very good score.

At the moment, Facebook is said to drive more traffic to both and than LinkedIn or Twitter.

Engaging “ambitious and determined” graduates through social media was a key priority for German discount supermarket chain Aldi when it revised its recruitment website to include information on its area manager graduate programme as well as opportunities more generally, according to Brian O’Shea, personnel development director of the Aldi Academy.

“We needed to increase our appeal to the graduate market and, most importantly, attract the right kind of graduates. We want the kind of individuals who see past the generous salary and company car on offer. They need to buy into our vision and share our passion for what we’re trying to achieve in the marketplace.

“Our area manager graduate programme offers candidates a huge amount of responsibility early on, and applicants have got to be both passionate and determined to succeed.”

The website refresh has resulted in a 200 per cent increase in visitors. “Candidates are now far more engaged, spending nearly five times longer on the site, while bounce rates have been reduced by more than half, which is fantastic news and a sign that students are exploring the interactive content.”