In an increasingly competitive job market, employer branding takes on vital importance for companies aiming to attract and retain young graduates. Generation Z, consisting of individuals aged 18 to 25, is stepping into the job market with high ambitions. These young talents, often discerning, place significant emphasis on the values and reputation of the company where they contemplate launching their careers. What are the major challenges of employer branding when it comes to targeting young graduates?

Attractiveness: a key to winning over young graduates

Young graduates seek employers that align with their aspirations and values. While salary maintains its position as one of the top deciding factors, the younger generation looks beyond that. They place significant emphasis on a company's social responsibility, diversity, and inclusion in a work environment where everyone is valued. Their preference lies with employers who acknowledge the equilibrium between professional and personal life, with flexible policies and well-being-focused benefits (health programs, ergonomic and welcoming work environment).

Young graduates are also eager to find learning and professional development opportunities. They are drawn to companies that provide training initiatives and pathways for career progression. According to a PotentialPark study on talent expectations in Europe, developmental prospects rank as the foremost priorities for the younger generation. Therefore, companies must effectively communicate these opportunities to candidates, whether through website or in their job listings.

By genuinely communicating on its CSR initiatives, a company can pique the interest of young graduates and attract them. It is better to demonstrate rather than assert, showcasing tangible examples of achievements and involving employees who serve as the best advocates for the company. The initiatives should be impactful and genuine, as young talents readily discern attempts at greenwashing or the promotion of initiatives lacking real significance. "For some companies, CSR engagement is more of a facade than a reality. Sometimes, large companies invest a lot of communication into a minor action that has no impact, and we feel that it's just an attempt to reassure us" explains Emma Linglart, an HR strategy consultant and a 2023 graduate of emlyon's Grande Ecole program.

Young talents value information that allows them to envision themselves in the company. For instance, career tips, insights into the recruitment process, introductions to the work environment, and success stories about employees' achievements within the company can really interest them.

La réputation : une vitrine à contrôler

Recent graduates are becoming more connected and well-informed. Prior to making decisions, they extensively research the companies that capture their interest. They explore online feedback, social media channels, and employer review platforms (such as Glassdoor, Indeed, Kununu) to shape their perception of the company's standing. These platforms furnish insights into employee satisfaction, the workplace environment, salary levels, and potential for professional growth, among other aspects.

A strong employer brand facilitates transparent reputation management by aligning with the company's values and initiatives, all the while upholding a positive image. This approach also encourages employees to share their positive experiences, thereby enhancing a positive perception.

Talent retention: nurturing young graduates for long-term loyalty

Merely attracting young graduates falls short; nurturing their lasting dedication is equally crucial. They yearn for a dynamic work environment that fosters learning, growth, and a positive corporate ethos. A robust employer brand empowers companies to shape a positive employee experience, fostering engagement, loyalty, and a desire to remain within the organization. This aspect stands as a pivotal factor in retaining young graduates.

Acknowledgment from managers holds paramount importance in sustaining engagement and motivation. In today's landscape, understanding the profound impact of their work can prove increasingly complex for the younger generation. Office work may not always offer instant gratification and understanding the influence of their contributions on the world can be challenging.

Merely attracting young graduates falls short; nurturing their lasting dedication is equally crucial.

Recent studies also reveal that half of young graduates will depart from their initial job within the first year. Hence, employee retention is a major concern. Nonetheless, it's vital to attract profiles that resonate with the company's environment ("the right fit"), ensuring employees find comfort in their work surroundings and sync with the corporate culture.

Additionally, Graduate Programs can be intriguing initiatives. Some companies offer these initiatives to entice, train, and nurture freshly graduated young talents. These programs often enable graduates to engage across diverse departments or fields within the company, providing hands-on experience and professional skill development. By providing clear career trajectories and growth possibilities, these programs heighten talent retention and foster long-term engagement among their participants.

Competing in the recruitment arena: setting yourself apart from the competition

In a landscape where numerous companies are vying for the attention of young graduates, employer branding emerges as a potent competitive advantage.

Companies can differentiate themselves from the competition by creating a distinctive experience right from the recruitment process. For example, they can offer an immersive journey featuring virtual tours of the company, moments of observation, and interactive presentations that provide a tangible glimpse into life within the organization. Innovative interview techniques, such as simulations, role-playing, and reverse interviews, can also leave a lasting impression on candidates.

Marque employeur : comment attirer et fidéliser les jeunes diplômés

Moreover, students and young graduates have pointed out the importance of companies proactively engaging with them, often at school and university recruitment events. Victor Gateault, a 2023 emlyon graduate, explains, "Reaching out to students sets a significant point of differentiation. When a company visits the campus to interact with students and brings both junior and senior employees, it demonstrates a genuine interest in attracting student applications."

Furthermore, by sharing inspirational narratives of employee achievements and spotlighting growth and development prospects, companies establish a strong emotional bond with potential candidates. This emotional connection serves as a key factor in standing out amidst competition and attracting the most promising young graduates. These individuals seek not merely a job, but a genuinely enriching professional journey.

Employer branding plays a pivotal role in attracting and retaining young graduates. It serves as a key tool for attractiveness by highlighting corporate culture, growth opportunities, and job benefits available. Moreover, effective reputation management allows for the control of the company's image and amplification of its appeal. Employer branding also fosters talent retention by crafting a positive employee experience and provides a competitive edge by distinguishing the company within the recruitment landscape.

For companies aiming to attract the top young graduates, investing in a robust employer brand is thus imperative. This entails clearly defining the company's values, transparently communicating them, and creating an appealing work environment. It is also crucial to showcase employee successes and communicate the growth and development prospects for prospective collaborators.

The development of employer branding is no longer an option but a necessity for companies seeking to attract and retain young graduates.

Looking to enhance your employer brand within the emlyon community?

emlyon's Career Center supports companies in building their employer brand among its students and young graduates through various initiatives:

  • recruitment events and employer branding activities,
  • action learning projects and challenges with our students,
  • custom action plans and roadmaps...
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