In this climate of competition for talent, graduate programs' designs are more critical than ever. Graduate programs that are well designed and linked to the organisation's overall talent strategy will provide the best chance for sustained success.

Whether you are establishing your first ever graduate program, refining an existing program or re-commencing a program that has been on hold for the past year or two, these five steps to success can provide some insights to help you on your way:

  1. Establish a compelling GVP – just like a broader EVP (Employee Value Proposition), a GVP (Graduate Value Proposition) is the critical first step to ensure you are clear about what you are offering graduates who enter your organisation. Decide what is unique about your offering and what graduates can gain through their journey in your program.
  1. Be clear on program structure and duration – graduate program duration can be tough to establish. One year might be too short, and three years could be too long; the answer is probably in what your business can effectively manage and what the market expects. According to the AAGE 2022 Employer Survey, 19-24 months is the most common duration (38% of respondents). Your decision, however, might be impacted by rotations, locations, discipline types (e.g. Engineering), or projects to be completed. Consider carefully, as this is a critical component of your attraction strategy!
  1. Decide where the headcount sits – it's a common debate – where does the graduate/s fit in the organisational structure? The obvious (and generally more popular) scenario is for the FTE graduate headcount to sit in a specific team or division. This is logical and works because the business unit or division 'own' the graduate. That is until rotations, or future intakes are taken into account. If the graduate cohort (in a FTE headcount sense) can sit in a central Talent / HR or even CEO organisational structure and independent from divisions or teams they are placed within, it provides greater flexibility for rotations and secondments.
  1. Maximise conversion of your pre-graduate programs – what is your conversion strategy? If you are lucky enough to have some pre-graduate programs, such as summer internship/vacation student programs, what do you have in place to ensure you retain the best of this talent pool? You make all this effort to recruit and develop these future graduates, so you expect to maximise the offers you can make to eligible and interested future graduates. After all, there is no better recruitment process than an 8-12 week on the job placement to assess performance (to decide whether a young professional is a keeper for your graduate program).
  1. Have a program 'exit' strategy – so once we have cycles of graduate cohorts move through the business, we develop and train them and provide mentors, opportunities and professional networks. Once they came towards the end of their structured program, then what? Whether it's a merit-based selection process for an experienced role within the business or a brokered entry into a pre-defined position, it is essential to have a plan for rolling off the program and retaining this valuable talent pool.

Rohan Holland - Graduate & Employability Programs Manager

Readygrad are experts in graduate employability and establishing early career programs – with a difference. Our background includes designing and delivering early career programs with candidate engagement and workplace preparation as a priority. Talk to us today if you are interested in exploring graduate program solutions.



Rohan Holland
Rohan Holland

Rohan is a graduate recruitment and development specialist. With extensive experience managing graduate programs and professional resourcing roles in organisations including BP, BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, Rohan has worked throughout Australia and abroad. He has a passion for sharing graduate program insights and coaching graduates to be better prepared for the recruitment process and the study to work transition.

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