Posted by Lizzie ● 22 November 2017

What can David Attenborough teach you about attracting early talent?

Author: Oliver Sidwell

Who hasn’t been amazed and in awe of Blue Planet II recently?

The amazing surfing Dolphins, sublime pack-hunting Orca’s and outrageous bird-eating fish, snatching birds out of the air; Blue Planet II has brought to life the incredible natural world we live in.

Alongside the incredible wildlife, these documentaries also bring to life the issues, and issues usually caused by human activities. To quote the legend that is, David Attenborough‘ overfishing enters the surface waters of the seas, trawlers have decided to ransack the deep’.

In the past ten years, we’ve seen a shift in the Early Talent market.  Forward-thinking employers bypassing the ‘overfished’ graduate market that had so often provided them with expensive candidates. According to the ISE, graduates cost on average over £3,500 to recruit, with candidates often using their graduate role as a stepping stone for their second job.

The forward-thinking employers are able to attract and engage the best talent - or, the biggest fish, before the rest of the graduate trawlers have put their nets out.

How have they done this?

The most impressive Early Talent recruitment strategy comes from one of the investment banks. They recruit 300 graduates each year, without recruiting graduates. Sound fishy?

The concept:

They adopt a long-term pipeline approach to resourcing their business.

They offer 1,200 week-long insights for first years. Through offering insightful, CV-building experiences for first years, they’re able to attract and engage with the top talent as soon as they reach university campuses.

The first years receive a great experience of the bank and are then invited to apply for 600 places on their Summer Internship programme. As the students have more of a true insight into the bank, they’ll have more of an idea about which department or role would best suit them, as does the bank.

The top-performing interns are then invited to apply for graduate roles and the 300 roles are filled through tried and tested candidates who already understand the culture and are bought into the values of the bank.

The numbers:

1,200 first year insights at 50% conversion rate into 600 Summer Internships, which again at 50% conversion rate populates 300 graduate positions. Graduate recruitment nailed!

So, how can you create your own Early Talent Pipeline?

We’ve created an Early Talent Pipeline which (based on similar marketing and recruitment funnels) we believe is the most effective way for employers to attract and engage with today’s Gen Z students. There are five stages to creating your Early Talent Pipeline; let’s start at the beginning. 

Stage 1 - Attraction

The first stage focuses on attracting undergraduates into your Early Talent Pipeline. Forward-thinking employers are driving all their outbound marketing and attraction activities towards permission-based opt-in opportunities, which enables them to build their very own talent pipeline.

Gen Z is open to hearing from employers. As digital natives, they're used to signing up to consumer databases where they've come to expect a more personalised service.

So how can you attract the best talent into the top of your Early Talent Pipeline and encourage them to opt-in to receive communications from you? There are a few ideas that we've outlined below:

On Campus

  • Capturing data at freshers and careers fairs
  • Signing up students at skills workshops and presentations
  • Encouraging students to sign up when you're running any type of installation or marketing campaign on campus


  • Creating web-based online forms so students can opt-in when they're browsing your careers website or on your social media platforms
  • Shortlisting on RateMyPlacement (a new feature where students can opt-in to hear from you)


Stage 2 - Engagement

Now you’ve attracted undergraduates into your pipeline, you’ll need to nurture them to keep them engaged with your opportunities. The best ways to do this are by educating and informing students about your company through e-newsletters, webinars or invites to events on campus. This content-led approach sparks students’ interest in your brand, which takes us nicely onto stage three.

Stage 3 - Consideration

Now that you have an engaged talent pipeline, it’s important to nurture these students as they'll be considering your brand. You can do this by sharing information such as your culture, values and opportunities via different channels (emails, social media, webinars, events) alongside others. Gen Z appreciates honest, authentic and peer-to-peer communication and enjoys challenges to test their capabilities. It’s important for them to be inspired, educated and challenged, to buy into your offering and apply.

Hooray! If you’ve managed to nurture your pipeline until this point then you’ll be rewarded with some high-quality applications.


Stage 4 - Assessment

Once they’ve applied, they’ll go through your assessment criteria. Managing expectations is increasingly important with a generation who are used to immediate feedback.

“When it doesn’t get there that fast, Gen Z think something’s wrong... If they don’t feel appreciated, they’re going to move on.”
Marcie Merriman, Executive Director, EY

Stage 5 - Conversion

Once an offer has been made, traditionally that was it, you’d see them on day one. However, the market has changed. It’s now a buyer's market where according to ISE’s research, one in five students renege after accepting multiple offers to keep their options open.

The conversion of candidates from offer to hire is hugely important, therefore keeping them engaged, inspired and excited about day one is increasingly crucial.

So there we have it! Through the Early Talent Pipeline methodology, RMP Enterprise enables employers to attract and engage with 16-24 year olds through a variety of face to face and digital solutions. Our peer-led approach underpins everything we do and we’re proud to boast an average cost per hire of just £614 across our flagship service,

Whether you consider your brand to be like a powerful Orca or a delicate Herring, today’s students are a unique pod and become most engaged through being educated and inspired. Give David Attenborough a call (or drop your RMP Account Manager a line) if you’d like to find out more.

Topics: Industry Insights, RMP News