In recent months employers have made a marked shift reducing the importance of exam grades as a factor when considering applicants for a position. Some of the largest graduate recruiters, such as Ernst and Young and PwC, are acknowledging that there is no evidence that degree classification at university directly correlates with success, and thus broadening the potential talent pools for their organisations. Both companies have recently announced that they are scrapping UCAS points as a criteria for graduate jobs1, 2. This in addition to Grant Thornton, who have successfully taken the same stance for the past two years3.
Instead of university and A-level grades, these companies are now relying on valid assessments and interviews to whittle down the list of applicants. This move takes a further step towards the ‘whole-person’ approach to hiring and increases the importance of using varied assessments in the recruitment process. While they still take exam grades into account, the grades themselves are no longer a decisive criteria for cutting and sifting applicants but instead part of a more comprehensive picture. In fact, 20% of Grant Thornton’s current year of trainees would not have been considered under their previous job specifications.
Taking a whole-person approach to recruiting graduates allows these progressive companies to tap into a wider talent pool and ultimately recruit the best possible candidates from a more diverse selection of background and education. The key criterion for these candidates is now their ability to demonstrate their aptitude for the role through rigorous recruitment processes, rather than a history of academic success which, while admirable, may not correspond to the actual demands of the job. This wave of change in taking a holistic approach to recruitment opens up opportunities to individuals who would have been cut out despite having the drive and talent to succeed.
Creating a more robust recruitment process using more than one type of assessment has also enabled these organisations to build a more accurate picture of their candidates and how they will contribute to the company, thereby bringing the best possible talent into their businesses. A robust recruitment process can in fact save money in the long term by leading to the hiring of best-fit candidates. As employees these people are committed to their work and satisfied with their role and company culture, which means they will be productive contributors and not leave the business too soon, thereby necessitating more expenditure on another hiring search and subsequent training. By definition best-fit employees are also most talented at their role, which means their performance will soar. Rather than just getting bums on seats, these whole-person hiring processes are about finding the right people for the right jobs.
In these more robust hiring processes using multiple measures of a candidate’s aptitudes, validation is key. A validation study correlating the recruitment process criteria against performance measurements can assist understanding what makes the difference between not only poor and good hires, but good hires and great ones.
Given the effort required to recruit the right people into businesses, what is being done to develop them once they have started their role? Rigorous recruitment processes gather a lot of data about these individuals, and it often goes to waste after their hire, not to be looked at again. In the majority of cases the data used for recruitment could become the basis of a development plan for the individual, further increasing the value of their hire. This is precisely why Synermetric developed the goal setting and action planning system Propel, which helps individuals and coaches turn their personality data into actionable goals to drive behaviour change for the good of the individual, the teams they work in, and the organisation as a whole.
The changes in the recruitment landscape for these large graduate recruiters is welcome and is proving effective through validation, and we hope that the trend towards holistic recruitment practices continues. If you ever need guidance on how to introduce effective, objective assessments to improve your processes, feel free to contact us for advice! Don't let it stop there though; make sure you also use the data you collect in your recruitment process to maximum advantage to develop and retain your best-fit employees.
1. Sherriff, L. (2015). Ernst & Young Removes Degree Classification From Entry Criteria As There's 'No Evidence' University Equals Success. The Huffington Post UK. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/08/04/ernst-and-young-removes-degree-classification-entry-criteria_n_7932590.html
2. PwC. (2015). PwC scraps UCAS points as entry criteria for graduate jobs. http://pwc.blogs.com/press_room/2015/05/pwc-scraps-ucas-points-as-entry-criteria-for-graduate-jobs.html
3. Burns, J. (2015). How one city firm looked beyond poor exam grades and found talent. BBC News. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-34488047