New research reveals which factors UK students believe are most relevant in impacting recruitment decisions. This contrasts significantly to what HR report, showing a discrepancy between their experiences.

According to new research conducted by Milkround, a graduate careers website, there is a significant difference between Gen Z’s experience and perception of the recruitment processes in comparison to HR.

Almost six in 10 Gen Z students (58 per cent) felt that physical appearance had the biggest impact on recruitment. Following this, over half (52 per cent) felt that the race and nationality of a candidate were the largest influencing factors.

Overwhelmingly, over eight in 10 (81 per cent) students believe that nepotism, favouritism on the basis of having relatives or friends within the company, played a significant part in getting hired.

This contrasted massively to HR’s response in which only 6 per cent of HR professionals cited nepotism as a factor within the recruitment process.

However, the opposite could also be seen within the research. Where almost three fifths of HR professionals (59 per cent) felt that their business is already doing enough to recruit a diverse workforce, over eight in 10 graduates or students (81 per cent) disagreed.

This lack of cohesion between the two groups becomes even more evident when considering the rest of the research. Just under a quarter of HR professionals (23 per cent) stated that their company did not have any diversity and inclusion recruitment strategies in place.

However, over a third of students or graduates (34 per cent) revealed that they would consider how committed a company is to diversity and inclusion strategies before applying for a role there. This number rose when looking at underrepresented groups including women (39 per cent), those from multiple ethnic groups (46 per cent) and non-binary people (73 per cent).

To rectify this, almost two-thirds of graduates (62 per cent) would like to see companies introduce blind recruitment, meaning a candidate’s personal details are removed to limit the impact of unconscious bias. Promisingly, almost four in 10 companies (37 per cent) not currently practicing this say that they plan to implement this in the future.

Furthermore, almost half of all graduate level workers (49 per cent) are asking businesses to offer living wage salaries to graduate level workers. A similar number (48 per cent) want to see diverse interview panels.

Georgina Day, Graduate Jobs Expert at Milkround, comments:

The research has revealed wider concerns from students and graduates as to whether companies are doing enough to recruit inclusively and equitably. Employers must ensure they have the right processes in place so that they’re receiving applications from the best talent, regardless of background.

It’s then a case of clearly articulating what these processes are to potential applicants, reassuring them that they’re taking part in a fair recruitment process based on skills and experience, not personal characteristics.

*This research was taken from Milkround who surveyed 250 HR decision makers via Opinium between 28th September to 2nd October and 1,000 students and graduates via Student Hut between 6th October and 20th October.





Monica Sharma is an English Literature graduate from the University of Warwick. As Editor for HRreview, her particular interests in HR include issues concerning diversity, employment law and wellbeing in the workplace. Alongside this, she has written for student publications in both England and Canada. Monica has also presented her academic work concerning the relationship between legal systems, sexual harassment and racism at a university conference at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.