Joshua Graff: The key to stopping Edinburgh's brain drain

LINKEDIN'S Joshua Graff has a plan to stem Edinburgh's graduate brain drain as 59 per cent of students leave the city after graduating.

Thursday, 7th July 2016, 10:36 am
Updated Thursday, 7th July 2016, 11:41 am

Edinburgh’s economy is thriving, and it has once again been voted as the best place to live in the UK. And yet, while Edinburgh’s three universities produce over 30,000 talented graduates a year, six out of ten students decide to move away to find their first job. Why?

This loss of new graduates means businesses in Edinburgh are losing out to other cities across the UK, with London, Manchester and Liverpool among the best ‘poachers’ of Edinburgh-grown talent.

Much has been written about millennials and how employers are adapting to get the most out of them, but before any contracts are signed businesses on the hunt for the talent should be mindful of the new generation’s approach to the job hunt.

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Today’s students and graduates expect to engage potential employers in instant, authentic, two-way conversations just as they increasingly do with brands. If you want home-grown talent to take their first steps on the career ladder with your business, you need to reach out to them in the social world they now inhabit.

Smart people attract smart people. Your current employees can open doors to great hires through their own real world and social networks. Millennials want to work for companies that they’ll feel proud to call their employer, and shared culture and values can be as important as salary and career prospects, these are best brought to life through your existing team.

Encouraging employees to actively promote their work activity and experiences on social media, on their profiles and in groups, or via updates from your company pages, is a great way to show what it’s really like to work with you. Your team can also act as valuable advisers and mentors to people considering applying, or currently going through the recruitment process.

Fewer and fewer students wait until their final year to make decisions about their future, so starting the conversation early is vital to creating an affinity with your company. This will attract candidates when they do start actively looking for roles.

Even if you don’t currently have a vacancy to fill, it’s worth taking the time to engage with people who you think might be a good fit for your organisation further down the line – whether it’s a summer placement programme, running a networking event, or having a presence at careers fairs.

This ready-made pool of talent that knows and loves Edinburgh is on your doorstep. Make sure that you open the door and invite them in, before they move on.

• Josh Graff is UK country manager at LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network