I haven’t written anything in a while, and quite frankly not being on the front line of managing a graduate program made it more difficult than I imagined to come up with new topics to discuss.

But, here I am three weeks back in the saddle and the challenges are there smacking me in the face again (and loving it of course!).

Something that will be fresh in your minds too I’m sure is candidate renegs.

I am really perplexed and disappointed quite frankly by the grads that are reneging one month, one week, and (outrageously) one day from their proposed start date.

To be clear, I’m not worried about grads renegs generally, they’ve been around forever and it’s understandable that they might change their mind, or circumstances have changed for them.  We plan for these scenarios and we can work with it.

However, last Friday, I had three emails from graduates who were due to start the following Monday.  We got the standard line ‘I’ve thought hard about the opportunity, and just don’t feel it’s the right fit for me at this stage and I have decided to accept another role.  Sorry for any inconvenience.’

After 15 years it feels like this is the worst it’s been and I’m just not happy to accept it.

Last August I wrote about the shift in moving from a traditional February to April hiring season to hiring all year round.   The truth is that timing isn’t everything, but the data around application practices and acceptances is also increasing the number of renegs.  Let me remind you of the stats.

According to the Australian Association of Graduate Employers 2020 survey data, of the 3,600+ candidates surveyed, 42% applied for 10 or more positions.   Of those same surveyed candidates:

  • 22% accepted an offer and continued to apply for other roles
  • 15% accepted and then declined an offer

Of those who reneged:

  • 46% wanted to work for another employer
  • 41% said the role they accepted initially was only a safety net.  

Now, managing the number of renegs in itself isn’t too bad, but it is the timing of these last minute renegs that causes a huge issue not only for the organisation, but also means a lost opportunity for those candidates who weren’t offered a role.   We are also spending way too much time now on trying to fill those vacancies, instead of focussing on supporting the graduates who did join us.

So, this leads me to the question ‘Is there a way to not hire these particular candidates in the first place?’

I’m not a psychologist obviously, so I can’t talk with any authority on what behaviours, traits, life experiences (or lack thereof) etc. could contribute to a graduate deciding it is acceptable to reneg at the last minute.

I’m also not saying I have a proper answer to my question, and so I’m keen to know if anyone out there is also asking the same question and has any thoughts on it?

As you can tell, I’ve been thinking about this and so far the only reason I can come up with right now is selfishness.    Particularly when you look at the definition of Selfishness: being concerned excessively or exclusively, for oneself or one’s own advantage, pleasure, or welfare, regardless of others.

Maybe they aren’t normally a selfish person?  Perhaps it’s the circumstances and the stress of applying for roles and not being sure of what they want to do yet.  Perhaps it’s a lack of self-awareness, perhaps they didn’t receive all the information they need to make a more timely decision, perhaps they just struggle with making decisions full stop?

At the end of the day, my role is to make sure that we have all our graduate roles filled so that we can meet the needs of our business, and the work that has been planned can be completed.

To help me do my role better, and to better support my stakeholders, I’m going to keep thinking about this and what I can do during and after our recruitment process (in addition to what we are already doing) to avoid these last minute renegs in the first place.

As they say, prevention is better than cure!

Would love to hear your insights and welcome you to join the conversation on Grad Hero Hub here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/gradherohub