Top students to shine at this year’s National Student Challenge

The 5th annual gradireland National Student Challenge is taking place next Wednesday 23rd March in UCD , welcoming Ireland’s best and brightest students, to meet challenges set by leading graduate employers.


Over 50 of Ireland’s brightest students, who performed best in gradireland’s online test, which gauged whether they had the skills qualities employers are looking for. These students will then be given the opportunity to meet Ireland’s leading graduate employers and display their key employability skills to the heads of recruitment in companies like Lidl, EY and PWC.

At the event, students will be split into groups and must complete a series of tasks, which are chosen by Ireland’s top graduate employers. These tasks are designed to challenge students on key employability competencies such as teamwork or communication skills.

Last year, Head of Recruitment at Lidl highlighted the importance of a positive attitude when speaking about the task they chose; “We are looking for three things; for students to enjoy themselves, contribute to the overall team effort and throw themselves into the task”.

There are some amazing prizes up for grabs for the winners, including €1,000 for the overall winner and past participants from the Nation Student Challenge have seen amazing possibilities from winning or coming in as a runner up in the challenge. “I’ve had job opportunities come into my LinkedIn from Google, Accenture, and a lot of companies and recruitment consultants just because I won the gradireland National Student Challenge”, says Ava Mahony, 2014’s winner.

When speaking about the National Student Challenge, 2013 winner Duncan McGregor from Belfast, who is now an established employee with EY said, “The gradireland National Student Challenge definitely played a part in me working today with EY and in terms of the benefits that the Challenge offers versus the short amount of time it takes to enter, I would say it’s something definitely worth doing”.


When speaking about the fifth anniversary of the National Student Challenge, Director of gradireland Mark Mitchell said; ‘Each year, we’re fortunate to have so many highly talented and motivated students taking the National Student Challenge, and we’re also fortunate to have so many dedicated and important graduate recruiters who are willing to support the event and devise challenges that really set the bar high for our competitors, but also give students a real insight into what it is they are looking for in their graduate recruits.”

Check out footage from the 2014 National Student Challenge here or view all of the photos from last year’s National Student Challenge here.

The employer branding events you must attend in 2016!

Recruitment events and fairs are the best way to get your organisation’s brand front and centre with the highly coveted graduate talent pool. Attracting this talent can be a challenge, but attending graduate events and showcasing your organisation’s culture and values can put you ahead of the competition when it comes to employer branding and graduate recruitment. gradireland have a whole range of specialised HR and employer branding events, which range from career showcases to industry masterclasses and more. Check out some of the events that are coming up in 2016:


Diversity Breakfast Masterclass, 6th April, The Spencer Hotel, IFSC

The 2016 series of gradireland Breakfast Masterclasses will commence on Wednesday 6th April and will feature one of the industry’s most talked-about trends, diversity. Speakers at this event include panellists from GLEN, Enterprise Rent-A-Car and IBEC. Attendance at this event is completely free to HR and recruitment professionals who can register by emailing their interest to

gradireland Graduate Recruitment Awards, 28th April, The Mansion House ,Dublin

The tenth annual gradireland Graduate Recruitment Awards will see the major stakeholders in the graduate recruitment industry, including government and business leaders, graduate employers, academics, careers professionals and key decision-makers attending Ireland’s premier event for graduate recruitment recognition. This event gives you an opportunity to network with Ireland’s leaders and influencers in employer branding. Find out more about the Graduate Recruitment Awards here.

gradireland Summer Fair, 8th June, RDS, Dublin

The gradireland Summer Fair is the official all-Ireland summer graduate careers options event, organised by gradireland in association with the Association of Higher Education Careers Services, and held in the RDS, Dublin. The event is supported by all university careers services in Ireland, north and south. The fair is designed to promote all the options available to students; so whether your organisation is recruiting graduates, advocating postgraduate or up-skilling courses, or you have opportunities to work or volunteer overseas this is an event not to be missed! In June 2015, over 4,300 students and graduates registered to attend the Summer Fair to network with Ireland’s leading graduate employers. Find out more information here.

gradireland Graduate Careers Fair, 5th October, RDS, Dublin

Ireland’s largest graduate careers fair will take place on Wednesday 5th October in the RDS Simmonscourt. If your brand strategy is to position your organisation as ‘the place to work’ in graduate recruitment, you cannot miss this event. Last year, 9,576 students and graduates registered to attend this event, to network with over 120 of Ireland’s leading graduate employers. Check out some of the national coverage the event received here and here. Find out more information about this event here.

GRADchances Language Fair Cork, November 2016, University College Cork

Ireland’s only regional language fair will take place in UCC this November. If your company is interested in attracting some of Ireland’s top bilingual and multilingual talent, this is your opportunity to showcase your graduate opportunities with languages. Check out information about the event here.

For more information about any of these events, contact our team on 01-6451500 or email

The Importance of Employer Branding in Graduate Recruitment

All companies should be aware of their brand identity and what it says about their organisation.

The demand for top talent in the Irish market is as aggressive as ever and more and more we are seeing this demand being highly specific to the employers’ needs. In most cases, employers assume that there is a vast pool of talent in the market waiting to be plucked from, but unfortunately this is not the reality.

Employer Branding

With resurgent confidence in the market, there is a lot of choice. Choice for the candidate to be a lot more considerate in their career choices, such as the route they want to direct their career and the type of organisation they want to join. If an organisation has a strong, positive reputation for being a great place to work, they are miles ahead of those that are looked upon less favourably in the market and if those messages are positive, a company will always have top talent available, waiting for the right opportunity to present itself.

In order to put your company ahead of the competition in terms of creating a strong positive organisation brand, it is essential that the company develop a brand strategy. Through our work with graduate employers in Ireland, gradireland have discovered that many companies do not have a working employer brand strategy in place. This means that while some of your competitors are developing and implementing a branding plan to help them become more attractive to the highly coveted graduate market, it also means many companies aren’t which presents you with an opportunity to get ahead of the pack.  So the key question here is how does an organisation devise a brand strategy to attract top talent?

Brand Awareness

Increasing an organisation’s overall brand awareness is key when it comes to employer branding. Brand awareness can be developed through a number of key actions.

  1. Online presence

In 2016, it is essential for employers to have a strong online presence to remain relevant to the graduate talent market. Millennials are plugged in and see embracing new technology as an integral aspect of a business moving forward. This online presence includes the use of digital tools, such as a dedicated graduate attraction website that defines your company brand, an active presence on social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, email marketing and visibility on credible websites such as that students and graduates are constantly using to research the options available to them.

  1. Word of Mouth

Positive ‘Word of mouth’ is crucial in today’s increasingly social world. Online social forums such as Inside Buzz make today’s workplace like an echo chamber. Potential candidates have the ability to find out about an organisation’s company culture before even stepping foot inside the building. Trying to control this message is one great way to expand your company’s brand and bring in the talented professionals you need to thrive.

  1. Use experts in employer marketing

Linking up with industry leaders in the employer branding market, giving them a clear and transparent view of your organisation, the talent you are seeking and current company culture will allow you to have a representative with an already existing online presence, out there speaking on your behalf and enhancing your reputation.

gradireland work with hundreds of leading graduate employers throughout Ireland, developing  employer brand strategies which use both online and offline marketing tools. Our team of marketing professionals consult with each individual employer to determine an employer branding strategy to suit each organisation. For more information about gradireland products and services contact our team on or 01-6451500.

The importance of Diversity in graduate recruitment


Diversity in the workplace is a hot topic with a balance of ethnicity, age profile and gender often the outward expression.  It is well understood that the mix of different backgrounds and experiences can add tremendously to a company’s success.

In a way though, this is limiting; employers are now becoming increasingly open to pursuing more intellectual and cognitive diversity as well as just a demographic blend. Due to a focus on developing strong brand identities, employers have put an over-emphasis on cultural fit to determine the candidate who will ultimately land a job. This can sometimes inadvertently lead to a shortage of intellectual diversity and homogeneity of personality. Leading graduate employers are now implementing strategies to ensure a more intellectually diverse workforce. They are not just looking for different backgrounds but differing viewpoints. It is sometimes in passionate disagreement that the most creative ideas are born.

For Millennials, their concern about a more diverse and inclusive society unequivocally extends to the workplace. Companies must embrace all types of workplace diversity in order to attract the attention of the valuable Millennial talent pool. So what are the major benefits of including workplace diversity as part of your company’s recruitment process?

Through our team’s extensive work with leading graduate recruiters, it is evident that companies who employ a more intellectually and demographically diverse workforce are more innovative and dynamic than those that don’t. Employees from varied backgrounds are more likely to offer diverse solutions to intractable problems. For this reason alone, forward-thinking companies should work to achieve diversity in the workplace as it has proven to allow for a creative work environment, filled with dynamic ideas and solutions that can drive innovation in a much more effective way.

Companies must also communicate effectively with prospective employees that they are diverse, and that they value diversity as much as the Millennials they hope to attract. The best way companies can do this is by constructing and implementing a robust and intelligent employer branding strategy. Such a strategy provides the best chance that the talent they hope to attract will get the message, join their companies and contribute their expertise to a creative and successful organisation.

When designing a brand strategy to attract Millennials, employers must think about all types of diversity, both demographic and intellectual. By doing this, they will ensure a more overall diverse workplace, encompassing a range of different viewpoints.

On the 27th of April, gradireland will host its annual Graduate Recruitment Awards at Dublin’s Mansion House and the following companies are nominated for the gradireland Diversity Recruitment Award sponsored by AHEAD:


Who are Generation Z and why should employers pay attention?

Over the past 15 years, Millennials have been a hot topic for HR and employment branding professionals throughout Ireland. With the majority of this generation now in employment or third level education, it is time to turn our attention to the latest generation of talent, Generation Z. By 2020, Generation Z will make up over a quarter of the workforce. Understanding and engaging with this generation early will represent a huge competitive advantage for organisations around the world.

Generation z

Gen Z has grown up with unparalleled access to information, as well as a near effortless ability to interact with and influence others online. Their constant connection to multiple online devices puts the world’s knowledge at their fingertips. These trends are set to revolutionise, if not completely replace, the traditional classroom style of learning. Their comfort with all things digital and their collaborative approach empowers this generation and gives them a sense that anything is possible.

When it comes to social media, Gen Z and Gen Y are all for it.  In both cases, corporate branding in their news feeds is something they have seen for a long time. However, Gen Z seems to be adapting to this and moving to social platforms like Snapchat and others that allow greater control. They value their privacy much more than Millennials and as such will prove more and more difficult to reach through social media advertising methods. Employers will need to be more creative and more targeted in their marketing efforts to reach and influence this audience.

Global employers aiming to recruit and retain these young digital super-natives must study this newest generation‘s ambitions and work styles. Generation Z cares about flexibility, the company’s view on equality and diversity and the style and structure of the working environment. Generation Z are strongly influenced by the economically challenging times they grew up in and often look for opportunities to volunteer or contribute to a higher purpose. Unlike Millennials, much of Gen Z may not pursue a traditional education, and employers must be prepared for that and find innovative ways to assess the top talent.

Research commissioned by Ricoh showed that 42% of this generation want their future career choices to change the world for good. This compares with just 15% of Millennials which is a significant change and could dramatically affect how employers  project themselves and their corporate mission in the future.

Early engagement with Generation Z is crucial when it comes to engaging with this upcoming talent pool. gradireland #FYI  is an initiative to facilitate early engagement with this generation and enables these students to understand their career options in order to make better informed career decisions – check out some of the #FYI videos here. On 12th April in the RDS Dublin, the gradireland #FYI Careers Showcase will actively address the key area of early engagement with over 1,000 first and second year students from universities and institutes of technology throughout Ireland. More information about this event can be found here.