What kind of grad scheme do you need?

Graduate employers come in all shapes and sizes. Often they are split by size, by location or industry type. All of which are important and relevant criteria. However, when it comes to designing a scheme, as opposed to an attraction campaign, we believe there is a different way.


Triangles, Diamonds and Mixed.

This takes a bit of explaining.

In our work with organisations we have noticed that the industry and size does not determine the type of scheme design that works. It is the purpose and context of the scheme that matters.

At the two extremes are the Diamond and the Triangle.

A Triangle scheme is recognisable when these factors are in place.

  • The scheme is critical to the ongoing success of the business. If you do not recruit the impact is felt within 2 or 3 years
  • Most people in the organisation have been through the scheme or something similar
  • The initial roles that graduates go into are obvious and deliver clear operational business value quickly
  • Often linked to filling a resourcing need in the business now
  • Heavy investment in upfront technical knowledge and skills training
  • Examples are accountancy firms, front office in investment banks, the army, big law firms, consultancies, PR firms and sales schemes.

    A diamond scheme is recognisable when

    • The scheme is optional. If you do not recruit the impact will be felt 4 to 5 years out. You can easily miss a year.
    • Few people in the organisation have been through the scheme or something similar
    • The initial roles that graduates go into are very varied and it is difficult to demonstrate clear operational business value
    • Often linked to filling a leadership gap further up the organisation
    • Examples are industrial firms, utilities, engineering, retailers and retail banking. The challenges differ between the schemes as well.

      The third type of scheme, Thin Triangles, is where companies recruit for a support function. It is recognisable when

      • The scheme is essential to fill the operational needs of a function like finance
      • There are multiple schemes which work within the different business functions with different time scales, different objectives and different recruitment profiles
      • The initial roles that graduates go into are easily defined and function specific
      • Often linked to professional qualifications
      • Linked to filling a resource needs within a function, with a possible benefit of producing leaders in the future
      • Examples are finance and HR schemes in big companies, back office schemes in Investment banking and Big Law, Big Oil and graphic designers in a creative firm.

        Some companies run all three types of schemes concurrently. Large Banks are a good example of this where they have core front office schemes, leadership schemes and functional schemes.


        For each scheme there are different challenges and different areas to focus energy and effort on

        • Attracting enough high quality candidates
        • Selecting the best and getting them to accept your offer versus others
        • Managing retention post professional qualification to similar firms
        • Getting the grads to engage with the importance of personal development in addition to professional development
        • Line manager engagement
        • Communicating and getting buy in to objectives
        • Delivering breadth of the organisation and depth of skills
        • Getting the grads to take ownership of their own direction and development
        • Sustaining motivation and engagement through the Dip
        Thin Triangles
        • Managing the different experiences and rewards across the schemes
        • Creating a consistent attraction story
        • Making sure the performance measures are consistent
        • Balancing high quality professional development with personal development