people at computer SH004 v3

Adventures in Graduate Hiring – Going the Distance

Pave the way for a long-lasting graduate hire through sharing purpose and creating meaning.

This year almost one-fourth of the workforce will be Generation Z (Gen Z). Born in the mid-1990s, they’ve grown-up in a dynamic, and at times, volatile world that is constantly online and streaming information. A world in which tablets, Twitter, and Snapchat have been the norm for communication; Terror attacks are a way of life across major cities; Money is essential but often scarce (having experienced the global recession), and the first rung of the property ladder often feels above their heads.

Our connected world has created greater diversity. Obama was the President of the United States for a large part of their early years, and he improved awareness of global and political challenges. Sustainability, ethics, fairness, global warming are not just lofty aspirations to solve, but everyday serious concerns for Gen Z.

It is clear that a vastly different generation is emerging from the one before. Often serious, concerned with understanding the truth – about themselves and others – fiercely open-minded, and up for a challenge. They strive for a fairer, more sustainable world and want their hard work to be recognized and rewarded.

As a recruiter or business leader, this sounds like music to your ears, right?

A cohort of people striving to impact the longevity of our world and businesses. So how do you attract and harness the great potential Gen Z offers?


Sustainability, ethics, fairness, global warming are not just lofty aspirations to solve, but everyday serious concerns for Gen Z.

At SHL, we believe there is a real opportunity for employers to create meaningful experiences in graduate recruitment. Building a two-way process for candidates and employers to engage in an open and honest dialogue about the true purpose of their business, the impact of the graduate role, and realism of what a career within their organization can offer.

We surveyed 800 recent graduates to receive honest insight into how it feels entering the workplace today. 75% said they experience constant change, and 50% said that it feels like the business strategy is shifting every quarter. Overall, they feel like they are being flung into a new, ever-changing, ambiguous environment and need to quickly learn the ropes. The challenge is, therefore, not just about finding the right match but equipping graduates to stay afloat and thrive.

Through this research, we captured a view across organizations, sectors, and roles, from graduates on the most common tasks and challenges they face in their new roles. These distilled into 14 key challenges:

Graduate Challenges

  1. Working on a cross-functional team to help solve a business challenge.
  2. Learning a new skill or application through self-directed learning.
  3. Building relationships in an unfamiliar department/business unit.
  4. Picking up a project at short notice with limited briefing.
  5. Managing a commercial relationship.
  6. Providing and / or receiving challenging feedback.
  7. Working on a new client opportunity.
  8. Taking on management responsibility for others.
  9. Working collaboratively with remote, virtual or international team.
  10. Presenting options for solving a critical business problem.
  11. Balancing further professional study against the demands of the day job.
  12. Organizing an event.
  13. Exploring new technology options and making proposals for implementation within the business.
  14. Producing a high-level executive summary from complex, detailed information.

Based on the above 14 most common tasks we have created our Graduate Challenges Model. This model enables organizations to build a realistic and meaningful assessment experience reflecting your company’s purpose and brand, by selecting the most relevant challenges for the role.

The model is backed up by our science and proven and predictive assessment tools. Linking your assessment process to this model will allow you to showcase graduate opportunities in an engaging and appealing way, while still rigorously understanding the candidates’ likely long-term fit to the role and your business. The challenges offer perspective on readiness for new roles and tasks once hired too – providing insight to support your graduates as they grow into your business.

In an era of constant change and ambiguity – of work bleeding into life, of candidates craving personal and meaningful experiences, and of graduates frequently moving roles, teams, and departments– make sure your next graduate adventure goes the distance.

To learn more about SHL’s graduate solution, click here.

headshot sarah mclellan


Sarah McLellan

Sarah is a business psychologist who spends her days seeking to understand and optimize the power of people to help individuals and organizations flourish. As Director of European Professional Services at SHL, she’s responsible for an international team who design talent solutions to help solve business challenges for hundreds of companies around the world. Sarah has been partnering with organizations for over 15 years, consulting across talent acquisition and talent management. She is passionate about optimizing the role people science can play in shaping the future of work.

Explore SHL’s Wide Range of Solutions

With our platform of pre-configured talent acquisition and talent management solutions, maximize the potential of your company’s greatest asset—your people.

See Our Solutions