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Speed recruiting targets graduates

By Lisa Desai for CNN

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Graduates were given 10 minutes to impress prospective employers.
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LONDON, England (CNN) -- Following the success of "speed dating," "speed recruiting" looks set to become the new trend in the workplace.

A London staffing company this month launched the first ever speed-recruiting event in a bid to fill graduate vacancies in the city's financial sector.

Graduates from all over the U.K. were given 10 minutes to meet and impress employers from big city firms such as KPMG and Deloitte.

"We believe this new initiative will help us reach the many graduates that are not starting the job hunt until after final university exams are completed," said Sarah Shillingford, a graduate recruitment partner from Deloitte.

The event was inspired by speed dating, a scheme where a group of singles are given a few minutes to meet face-to-face and impress one another before rotating to the next date.

"We hoped that this would increase the chances for both employers and graduate job-seekers to meet their dream matches," said Martin Hickerton, manager of Reed Graduates, which organized the event.

Despite the growing number of graduates, many graduate positions have remained vacant due to cut backs in trainee programs over the past few years. That means the number of vacancies has risen significantly this year.

"New graduates have not realized the full extent of the opportunities now open to them amongst some of the most prestigious employers in the country," said Mr. Hickerton.

Dinner dates

According to research conducted last year for recruitment Web site totaljobs.com, 87 percent of British jobseekers would welcome the introduction of "speed interviewing," with more than three-quarters of candidates making up their minds about a job within 15 minutes of the beginning of their interview.

"We don't even have time for proper dinner dates any more, so it's not surprising that people are looking to apply the same hard and fast rules elsewhere," Keith Robinson of totaljobs.com told recruitment magazine onrec.com.

"Recruitment is a serious business and the speed interview is not a substitute for a formal, in-depth interview. It's simply a way of helping candidates decide which companies they'd like to concentrate their time and efforts on."

But speed recruiting has been criticized for putting too much pressure on job seekers. Despite the chance to meet with employers, graduates were given little time to adequately relay their skills and experience.

"They are relying too much on first impressions", said Mary Chapman from the Charter Management Institute.

"Only some personalities thrive in that sort of environment, those who don't will be misjudged and overlooked."

Other recruiters have been reluctant to adopt the scheme. "I can't imagine any of our clients wanting to recruit that way," said Katherine Hogbin from Origin HR Recruitment Services.

"While it may be a good way to filter through applicants quickly, the traditional interview is really the best way to get to know graduates."


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