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Tap into the talent pool of exceptional students and graduates from Cambridge with our top recruiting tips, supported by research from AGCAS and GTI.  

  1. Take advantage of year-round recruitment 

SMEs enjoy greater flexibility in hiring schedules compared to large organisations, which can be a significant advantage.  

While many large employers focus their recruitment efforts in the Autumn term (Michaelmas), there are excellent opportunities to connect with our students, researchers and recent graduates throughout the year. 

Expand your brand presence beyond posting roles in their final term or after graduation. Participate in our career fairs, skills sessions, and panels, or offer internships and insight days. 

The most successful hiring organisations embrace this proactive approach, establishing strong connections with students at earlier stages in their studies. 

Students who prefer working for smaller organisations often wait until they graduate to start applying. Every June you can meet talented graduates ready to enter the job market at our summer Graduate Jobs Fair  


  1. Clearly define your graduate roles and state the salary 

To attract top talent, make it clear that your job is a graduate role by including the word ‘graduate’ in the job title or description. Graduate roles require a degree for the experience and skills gained. 

Job postings that specify the salary tend to perform better than those using terms like ‘competitive starting salary.’ Being transparent about the salary will attract more applicants and set clear expectations. 


  1. Highlight your values 

Use inclusive language to attract a diverse range of candidates. The phrase “we welcome applications” is 18.4 times more likely to appear in popular job postings.  

Follow this with a description of the candidates you seek, such as “We welcome applications from students or graduates of any degree discipline.” This emphasises your commitment to inclusivity and broadens your appeal to potential applicants. 


  1. Demonstrate your commitment to inclusion and be careful not to discriminate 

Be as specific as possible about who you want to welcome and your commitment to inclusion,  

“Whatever a candidate's background, we assess each application on individual merit”.  

Highlight role models and using inclusive language in job adverts to attract a diverse workforce.  

Express enthusiasm for what you do and share the benefits of joining your organisation but be mindful of overemphasising certain terms that suggest a lack of diversity such as “great young culture in the office”. 

Jobs adverts that focus too much on drinking or social culture also perform poorly. 


  1. Be specific about skill requirements 

Research shows that generic phrases like “possess strong interpersonal skills” are often found in less popular job adverts.  

To attract the right candidates, ensure that the skill requirements are specific to the role and clearly stated. This helps applicants understand exactly what is expected and can improve the quality of your applications. 


  1. Highlight interesting and varied work  

Students who prefer to work in small organisations place a high value on interesting and varied work, with 70% rating it as very important. In contrast, students targeting graduate schemes in large firms place more emphasis on career progression. 

Demonstrate the diverse projects and opportunities your organisation offers and highlight how the role provides a dynamic and engaging work environment. 


  1. Make a difference 

As an SME, articulate how you make a difference in the world. Cibyl research highlights the increasing importance to students of factors such as sustainability and ethics, flexible working and starting salary, regardless of organisational size.  


  1. Share customer feedback or awards you have won 

Showcasing customer feedback or awards won by your business serves as compelling evidence of your expertise. This is especially important when competing for graduate talent against better-known brands with inherent prestige. Displaying such recognition signals that your organisation is a desirable place to build a career. 


  1. Consider the candidate experience 

Consider the impression your organisation leaves on candidates throughout the application process.  

Completing an application form and uploading a CV to your website offers a better candidate experience. With Handshake, applicants can easily apply and submit their CV while allowing you to manage communication efficiently. 

Also prioritise the speed of your follow up and ensure candidates encounter friendly and professional interactions throughout the process to reinforce your firm's values. While we understand the demands of recruitment, providing feedback to unsuccessful candidates is invaluable. It demonstrates respect for their time. 


  1. Talk to us 

Our Careers Service Employer Engagement Team is here to guide you in connecting with our talented pool of students and graduates. We can also assist you in reviewing your job advert and company profile to ensure maximum impact.  

Meet the Team


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