Meet & Engage

The early careers landscape has changed: how to engage and support candidates in 2023

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2023 will be the first year in a few where we’ll be seeing in the new year without the threat of Covid – and its restrictions and lockdowns – looming over us. That’s not to say we’re entering less challenging times; you could reasonably argue that 2023 is already set to be more difficult than the two preceding years. With a recession, cost of living crisis, record inflation and the threat of both war and climate related events already at the forefront of everyone’s minds, never has playing a role in helping young people shape their futures felt more important.

Up until very recently students and graduates were reporting that a company’s culture, DEI policies, and initiatives were leading factors in their decision-making processes, but a recent snap-poll by Cibyl shows that things have changed quite significantly.

The poll, which was carried out in November 2022, shows that cost-of-living, mental health and climate change are the top social issues for students, regardless of socio-economic background. For many, the impact of needing to further cut back and streamline expenditure has already negatively impacted their university experience, with 63% of respondents saying they’re missing out on social events and 56% stating they’re avoiding using heating or electricity to save money.

The cost-of-living crisis’ impact on young people’s long-term career aspirations

The ever-constant worry about how to make ends meet is also impacting confidence about entering the world of work; 2 in 3 students and graduates (64%) think it’ll be tough to get a graduate job, and this increases to 69% for those concerned about money. This in turn has increased anxiety about the prospect of job hunting. A staggering 84% of students and graduates who are concerned about money are stating that they feel anxious about securing work – and at 72%, this number is also high for those without money concerns.

A staggering 84% of students and graduates who are concerned about money state that they feel anxious about securing work—and at 72%, this number is also high for those without money concerns


With their aspirations and long-term career goals being impacted by factors outside of their control, young people are looking more towards graduate employers for both practical and emotional support. At a recent ISE conference focused on DEI, Katherine Leopold from Greenwich University discussed invisible barriers in the recruitment process. This included focusing less on grades and more on ability, creating safe interview spaces, and the fact that employers are more aware of barriers than ever before (although there’s still work to be done).

For students who are already struggling to balance paid work and study, any time committed to a recruitment process can feel like a risk, especially if they already feel like an outlier

So how do you get break through all this fear and concern to ensure you keep reaching students from every part of the socio-economic spectrum?

2023: the year of the hybrid solution

At Meet & Engage, we work with businesses spanning many different sectors; from global banks and law firms, to leading tech businesses and public sector organisations, so we’re uniquely placed to get a thorough overview of the challenges being faced in the early careers market, and the potential solutions.

After three years of almost exclusively virtual engagement, it’s understandable that ‘getting back out there’ and seeing people face-to-face may feel like the best approach to take in 2023. But if you’re to maintain a wide reach which is inclusive and accessible to all, then we would advise caution; we are faced with a myriad of issues, so no one solution should be relied upon to solve all of them.

We have structured our tech stack to engage and support candidates at all stages of the process, always with a focus on inclusivity. In the early careers space, the engagement journey can be split into three distinct groups – attraction, in-process and pre-/on-boarding – and each of these stages can present their own challenges, especially for those from lower socio-economic backgrounds. I’ve detailed below some solutions for how our solutions can be used as part of a hybrid in-person/virtual solution.




Virtual engagement events using Inspire & Nurture: Virtual events democratise access to your business for those unable to travel and meet face-to-face, and they can absolutely supplement your in-person events. You could host a programme of standalone sessions for a virtual audience, and even consider live streaming your ‘live’ presentations, allowing virtual attendees to submit their questions along with those attending in-person. The addition of a ‘nurture track’ full of useful information which can be accessed on demand post-event, means those unable to attend do not miss out on the knowledge shared.

With 90% of students worrying about money at least once a month, why not run additional virtual support sessions on subjects like money management to help build overall confidence and ease anxiety

Maintained engagement post-meeting: Our new Campus Engager solution allows you to continue meaningful engagement after meeting candidates face-to-face. After scanning a QR code and filling in basic details, the students you’ve met will get access to a plethora of relevant engaging content via a platform which has a social media like feel. The content is quick to digest – and delivered via mediums like video – so it’s an inclusive, time-efficient and highly impactful way of getting your key messages across. Aside from content about your business, why not include topics related to mental health support and how you’re helping employees with cost-of-living challenges.




Always on in-process support: With confidence at an all-time low, encouraging, supporting, and inspiring your candidates at every step of the recruitment process has never been more important. Our Recruitment Process Nurture (RPN) solution has been designed to provide timely and relevant information to candidates from application to offer or decline. It’s a great way of both preparing candidates for their assessments as well as providing reassurance around concerns such as travel expenses and time commitment required. 37% of students state that they’d like mentor/buddy support from their graduate employer: RPN can act as a virtual buddy, providing advice and support through the process.




Maintained engagement and support: We know that renege rates have always been an issue in early careers and now that candidates are feeling less confident about their futures, reassurance and information will be key to helping them feel able to start with you. As well as the practical information needed to get them to day one, why not consider addressing some of the key concerns head on. Insights into training, development, and long-term earning potential, as well as information regarding cost-of-living and mental health assistance, flexible working structures and any buddy/mentor support will help alleviate concerns. Also, don’t forget that many people will have missed out on socialising, so definitely talk about all the great ways they can get involved with colleagues when they join.

The above is in no way an exhaustive list of the ways we can help you address the very real challenges 2023 will bring to early careers recruitment, but we are confident our technology can deliver positive results for you and your candidates. We would be very happy to talk about your individual concerns and discuss our ideas for overcoming them.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me, or a member of the team at 

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