Sector reputation matters – tackle it head on to attract top talent

All firms have the same hiring goals: to find and attract top talent from focused, challenging academic programmes. Which means that it’s no longer enough to have a slick careers page or employee testimonials on your Instagram feed – standing out in today’s job market means delivering extra value to candidates in their application process.

In our ebook, Content is King – Human is Ace: The Truth About Candidate Experience, we show that the number one factor for a great candidate experience is content. However, 57% of candidates report that they cannot find sufficient information about the role and company they’re interested in, which means closing the content gap should be a priority for all companies. In the financial services and legal sectors, the content gap could mean missing out on the best and brightest candidates – perception of these sectors is driving graduates away (into the up and coming tech sector) – and the answer lies in tackling it head on.

First impressions matter, and when students are reading news stories and research that paint a challenging portrait of life in your sector, it can have a negative impact on the quality of applications coming through. In this blog, we look at how the financial services and law sectors should tackle their perception issues through better content.

Interest in banking is on the decline among students, and it’s not getting better

Globally, the banking sector has dropped to 2nd place in sector attractiveness among banking-inclined business students, and while it might still be 1st in the UK, it’s down to 3rd place in France. And the sector is continuing to lose popularity in both countries, while Tech and Computer Sciences swiftly catch up. MBA students in 2014 were 40% less likely to pursue a career in investment banking than they were in 2008.

What are the issues driving MBA students away from banking?

And it’s not just banking – financial services as a whole is suffering from a decline in popularity. The insurance industry, for example, is ranked 11th in sector attractiveness for business students.

These issues are increasingly affecting traditional candidates (e.g. men and those doing business studies), but they seem very ingrained in the wider pool of talent which banks and other financial services firms are trying to attract. For example, for students across all degrees, Randstad’s Employer Brand Research (2017) found that Financial Services overall ranks 10th in Sector Attractiveness.

It’s not just banking – the legal sector loses over 60% of graduates to other sectors

While the financial sector struggles with industry perception, the legal sector is facing some image problems of its own. High levels of workplace stress, a high gender pay gap, and lack of professional development opportunities are driving legal graduates out of the sector. In 2014, an overwhelming majority of law graduates didn’t end up working in law at all.

Why are law graduates shying away from the sector?

How to tackle sector reputation and improve candidate experience

In most companies, the issues cited above are not as dire as the research makes them seem. In some cases, they may not apply at all, or measures are already being taken to address the sector-wide issue. Candidates are unlikely to know this, however, because these aren’t the issues usually addressed in a recruitment social post or in a careers page.

Careers pages with glossy photos and generic promises of “a great future”, usually with a handful of employee testimonials and possibly a day-in-the-life video are a good starting point. But they’re not enough to convince the best and brightest that your company is any different from the ones they read about in the news. They might even apply for a role, but if they’re unable to find content that changes their perception – or ask questions about the reality of working for you – it is not surprising they’re more likely to take a role in a challenger sector that looks great at first sight, like tech.

To tackle this issue, companies must focus on better communicating what makes working for them different from the perception of their sector. Address sector issues in your content to improve candidate experience and your employer brand, which in turn will improve conversion.