Websites push graduate recruiting cost up to 7,000

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Although personal contact/word of mouth, at 90%, is still the most popular method of recruitment, the internet is a close second, with 89% of employers favouring it.

The figures are revealed in a Park Human Resources survey Graduates in the Eyes of Employers, which provides an insight into the practices and attitudes of 104 of the country's leading recruiters of graduates.

Most employers (82%) advertised vacancies on their own websites and 44% believed this was the best way of reaching graduates. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Arthur Andersen and PricewaterhouseCoopers are among City financial institutions investing in graduate recruitment sites.

40% of employers perceived graduate-focused websites to be almost as effective, with Prospects, Activate and GTI proving to be the most popular.

All the employers surveyed now receive applications via e-mail and they enthuse about the ease of use, access, speed and efficiency of the Internet.

More graduate employers are becoming aware of the internet's ability to target particular groups, while also pointing out its use enhances their corporate image. The major criticism of the internet is the high response from unsuitable candidates.

An investment bank director, who sits on graduate interview boards, said he was impressed with the way new recruitment methods, like the internet, were working.

But he adds some caveats: &quotAt interview I still like to see some fire in the stomach and a hunger in the eyes to learn more about what we are all about. This is far less common than it used to be, with some applicants adopting an arrogant 'take me or leave me' approach.

&quotWe do also experience problems in retaining graduates. We're told this is due to increased competition from other employers but, sad to say, I don't think old-fashioned loyalty exists the way it used to do.&quot

One of the successes highlighted in the Park survey is the way employers are building greater awareness with students on campus.

The most popular link is work placement, with the milkround slipping into fourth place (other methods mentioned include careers fairs and presentations, development of course content sponsorship of a student/course/chair).

Placements and internships are seen to provide a valuable bridge between the liberal environment of further education and the discipline of work.

They also make graduates immediately useful when they complete their degrees and satisfy employers' demands for skills they see missing in graduates, such as business awareness and communication.

Summer placements are mentioned by employers in the report as the most effective way of attracting quality candidates.

The 7,000 question is whether work experience and personal contact with a City of London employer while still at university simply enhances the graduate's appeal to other employers, or might just produce that sense of loyalty that lingers longer.