The Weekender: Graduate recruitment, what can we learn from 2017/18?

The 2018 graduate recruitment season is coming to a close, and we’ve seen thousands of applicants for a wide variety of roles. Looking ahead to the 2019 season, what changes might we see, and how best can you prepare for them?

First a major trend taking place is an increased focus on entry-level hiring. Investment banks are looking more and more to taking on higher intern numbers. Retention rate is the key statistic, and firms are attempting to acquire and retain top talent pre-graduation. Home-growing the talent is becoming a preferred strategy instead of taking on more mature hires. Turnover rate in banking is traditionally high, and I expect this to decrease as careers begin earlier and perk culture increases, as our Cronuts vs Cash blog explored recently.

We’re also seeing a diversifying degree background. There’s been an increasing consideration of a wider graduate pool; humanities and science students (provided they have a strong interest in finance) are not held back by their field of study.

The reasons for this tie in with the first trend mentioned: the major specification for hiring has shifted from experience to potential. Banks are now searching for candidates who could be trained up organically, and this is a criterion which surpasses specific degrees. Take, for instance, a recent conversation where a hiring manager within M&A was talking about how their ideal applicant approaches a financial task; at no point did she mention the necessity of knowing how to build a DCF, or similar technical concepts. What she preferred was a logical thought process.

A good way to start was to look at why transactions and deals happen, as opposed to simply what the details and statistics of the transaction were. Walking us through how her current graduates approached the trickle-down effects of oil prices on the equities market, candidates did not need a whole series of internships to show the ideal traits. Strategic thinking has obviously always been important, but as training programmes become more technically intense it seems that firms are increasingly seeking the foundations of intelligent and sharp candidates to technically train.

The 2019 process is not too far away. Knowing what’s out there is the key. Networking events are the best ways to benchmark and to gauge the relative culture of a company. Additionally, be organised and diligent with applications, knowing where you have applied to – and what the timelines are likely to be for each process – so that you’re properly prepared when the time comes.

Have a great weekend.



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