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The Highered EFMD Global Talent Summit offered many events for both schools and corporate organizations to take part in. By far, the liveliest of events was the Fishbowl Interactive. One could say it went swimmingly.

The Summit’s purpose was to bring career service and HR professionals together, matching career placement goals with recruitment needs. The Fishbowl Interactive provided an excellent opportunity to start such strategic discussions.

For those not familiar with the “fishbowl” concept, it is an exercise of asking questions, exchanging ideas, and swapping stories surrounding challenging topics. Schools and companies were matched into groups to discuss topics such as recruitment trends and applicant preparedness,¬†among others.

How Recruiters Search

First discussed were recruitment trends regarding the most effective ways for reaching talent. Among all 8 Fishbowl groups, online events came in as the #1 suggestion from both the schools and corporate organizations as the best recruitment tool. Online events, such as Q & A recruitment webinars or virtual career fairs, are increasingly being used as a means for applicants to explore and gain knowledge on companies and opportunities. They are relatively easy to plan for and have high participation numbers due to the relative ease of virtual access.

Also, internal referral systems were also mentioned as a popular recruitment method, reinforcing the necessity of networking in today’s workforce for young graduates and alumni. Of course, the usual recruitment suspects were also cited, including social media methods like WeChat, LinkedIn, and Facebook as a way to source candidates.

What Recruiters Look For

The next question of the Fishbowl Interactive session asked the HR Talent Acquisition professionals for their input on what they look for in applicants and what in particular is lacking from their candidate pools. Recruiters listed learning agility, adaptability, soft skills, communication, and motivation as key factors in identifying top talent. Maturity was often mentioned as well, yet “it is a rare quality when the applicant has little experience” added one recruiter.

One of the major qualities applicants are lacking is self-awareness‚ÄĒ the companies recommended that students should really understand why they are targeting particular companies and roles, and have a definite career path in mind. Talent Acquisition teams want to recruit talent who are clear on their own purpose and commitment to their career. Students need to tailor applications to specific role and demonstrate that they have self-awareness and reflected on the experience and how these can benefit the company.

Standing Out As An Applicant

So how can students stand out in the application process? One recruiter’s input suggested that the most outstanding candidates were the ones that learn more about the company than anyone else.¬† Students should also tailor applications to the specific role and demonstrate they have self-awareness, have reflected on their experience and how these can benefit the company. Recruiters also mentioned that receiving spontaneous applications and messages from interested individuals shows signs of being proactive and taking initiative.

At the end of this topic discussion, it was clear that applicants need to: Be Themselves, Be Humble, and Be Curious.

Creating Connections

Career service teams from the participating schools had a chance during the Fishbowl to discuss different strategies to become more effective in connecting students with companies.

Since employer branding is the most important element in attracting and retaining talent, one company representative said, there is a mutually beneficial relationship between companies and schools in this respect. Both parties should collaborate so as to provide the applicant feedback before, during, and after the recruitment process and also pay close attention to those that complete the process and end up rejecting the offer. Insight can be provided to both parties regarding process, goodness of fit, and other stuff. Counseling during the recruitment process from career counselors can also help manage students’ expectations.

Career services can also arrange company visits and even find, coordinate and promote online events, that are increasingly popular. Knowing about these events and advertising to students can help provide the students with many options.

Mapping Timelines

The Fishbowl Interactive session ended on a rather important note with both schools and companies coordinating career service events calendars and recruitment calendars.

Previous research conducted by Highered indicates that students are searching for opportunities all year round. However, due to the structure of some schools’ programmes, certain times of the year seem to be more active than others. Knowledge of these time periods can help companies find a better match between their recruitment timelines, and the various programmes at schools.¬† Currently, though recruitment timelines vary by company, the companies present at the Summit recruit approximately 1 year in advance.

One Google representative in attendance spoke about gaining an understanding of students’ graduation dates. They want to work better with schools in order to enable students to start their careers earlier.

Institutions in Europe tend to be more flexible with thesis and graduation completion deadlines. For example, some schools allow students to finish their thesis remotely so that they can jump start their career. This practice also readies talent with more practical experience and role-related knowledge.

One company shared an even-earlier approach to recruitment‚ÄĒbeginning at university admissions. The HR Associate Director of Talent at Education First mentioned how they are now involved university admissions processes for 200 universities in China. Here they work to detect sales skills, looking for those who are particularly articulate in their goals, passions, and motivations, as one must demonstrate in their admission applications. They seek talent who are reliable, responsible, resilient and mature.

Shared Goals and Success

After the hour of engaging discussion, both career service teams and HR professionals were able to walk away with a practical toolkit of resources and connections to be implemented, matching top talent to international organizations.


Interested in joining us at our next Global Talent Summit, October 23-25 in Paris? Register your interest here to stay up-to-date with the latest registration and program details.