Top 5 Tips on Attracting Socially Mobile Candidates in Graduate Recruitment Processes

Providing support to allow socially mobile candidates to access their full potential is ever important and increasingly coming to the forefront of employers minds around the globe. Organisations such as the Social Mobility Foundation (SMF) provide support in achieving this, providing networks of support for intelligent, motivated young people who may not have the knowledge or networks to access their full potential themselves. Socially mobile candidates are an excellent source of talent for graduate roles across industries, with proven strong work ethic and an ability to adapt. However, these socially mobile candidates from less privileged socioeconomic backgrounds face various barriers throughout their education, graduate recruitment, and even their careers. As such, in order to access this diverse talent pool, companies must adapt their graduate recruitment processes and attraction methods. This will in turn remove barriers to socially mobile candidates regarding your opportunities. In this article, we will be drawing on knowledge from our partnership with the SMF and detailing Sanctuary Graduates’ top 5 tips on how to attract socially mobile candidates in your graduate recruitment processes.


1. Make your recruitment process transparent

It is important that socially mobile candidates are able to understand your recruitment process so that they feel they have a chance of obtaining a role, and it is thus worth their applying. Making your processes transparent is relatively easy, and is key in the SMF’s analysis of top employers for socially mobile candidates. This can be done by:

The SMF have further detailed that in order for an employer to best tackle barriers in attraction and recruitment processes for graduate roles for socially mobile candidates, any information given at careers fairs at the university a company attends in person must also be made available online. There should be no advantage given to candidates who attend universities which an employer attends (which are usually top 20/Russell Group) through information given at these careers fairs that cannot be readily accessed elsewhere.

As such, throughout Sanctuary Graduates’ attraction campaigns for our clients, we ensure that our job advertisements use simple terminology that is accessible without prior knowledge, links to relevant information, and with no additional information being given at fairs or events that is not available online. 

2. Raise awareness of graduate schemes on campuses

A tried and tested method of attracting candidates and talent is by raising awareness of your company and opportunities on campuses. Events and careers fairs are one way of achieving this as it allows direct communication with potential candidates. However, as with many opportunities, this may fail to attract socially mobile candidates if you only attend the careers fairs and events of Russell Group or top 20 universities. 

Given the various barriers, be they family commitments, or pre-university educational inequalities, many socially mobile candidates will not attend the top universities. As such, it is important to have a presence at a range of universities across the country. This academic year, Sanctuary Graduates attended a number of careers fairs representing clients including: Manchester, Surrey, Oxford, Warwick, UCL, Kent, and UEA just to name a few.

Companies can also conduct activities such as socially mobile brand ambassador campaigns to raise awareness of your brand and opportunities on campus. JLL are a real estate company who were looking to fill their graduate scheme and internship opportunities, and ensure these opportunities were made available to socially mobile candidates. Having identified such socially mobile candidates through an online RealRating testing stage, these brand ambassadors were used to identify and encourage applications for JLL’s opportunities from other socially mobile students. 

This BA campaign, as ever, included social media marketing, lecture shout outs, lecture shout outs and more. As a result of Sanctuary Graduates running these BA campaigns, and drawing on our database, department networks, digital marketing techniques and more, JLL saw over 6, 000 click throughs for their roles indicating a resounding success.

3. Monitor the socio economic background of attendees at university events and target certain socio economic groups.

The SMF uses various criteria to identify employer recruitment practices that successfully provide for social mobility. One of these criteria is identifying employers that monitor the socio economic background of attendees at university events and use this data to target socially mobile groups. This data allows one to identify where one can most likely find high quality, socially mobile candidates, and target universities and academic departments accordingly. Pairing this data with Sanctuary Graduates’ database of 160, 000 students across universities around the country and RealRating testing, one can both identify and attract socially mobile candidates to apply for your opportunities. 

4. Reach out to students at universities you don’t visit

One can also garner interest at universities across the country through a variety of methods that do not require the time and monetary expenditure of visiting campuses. For example, companies can take advantage of social media, chat forums and webinars, posting on careers portals, virtual experiences and e-mentoring, regional university fairs, online resources on your website and more in order to garner attraction and increase brand awareness at universities. 

Across LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and our database Sanctuary Graduates has a rich, diverse pool of talent to draw from amounting to more than 160, 000 students across universities around the country. This allows for the appropriate targeting of universities, having also sent JLL’s opportunities to our unique network of 94 academic departments, of which 74 were non-Russell Group universities in order to attract high quality, socially mobile opportunities for our client. 

One can also make use of Head Hunters and university societies in order to access a diverse range of candidates at a range of universities. Sanctuary Graduates has done so for clients, utilising networks of headhunters across 130 universities and 146 key diversity societies at targeted universities to attract socially mobile, diverse candidates. 

5. Run initiatives/partnerships to attract more or increase the success rate of applicants from lower socio economic backgrounds.

Partnerships with organisations such as the SMF are a further, excellent method of attracting and increasing the success rate of applicants from lower socio economic backgrounds. Not only this, but one can run initiatives using methods such as RealRating to identify socially mobile candidates and adjust accordingly. Furthermore, partnerships with student societies on social mobility and diversity such as UpLift at the University of Leeds can prove particularly effective in attracting such candidates. Building these partnerships and effectively making use of such initiatives is effective, but requires expertise and as such, Sanctuary Graduates offers free advice on applications to the SMF Index to its clients. 


Was this helpful in illuminating how to attract socially mobile candidates? Do you wish to pursue a partnership or get more information on techniques you can implement to do so? Get in contact or let us know in the comments!