How to target specific universities and courses

Most clients we work with began advertising their graduate vacancy on generic job boards. This is a good method for getting a high number of applications but they are often not high quality or very relevant. When we begin creating a search campaign for our clients one of the earliest questions we ask is what universities they would like us to target. Some clients have a clear idea but for others we need to dig deeper to find out which universities will be able to offer them their ideal candidates.


You can find university rankings for the courses you are targeting on The Complete University Guide. Universities that are part of the Russell Group must prove that they prioritise academic excellence and research skills and so clients who want academically outstanding candidates or candidates for intensive research positions often start here. Other universities are more renowned for their focus on providing students with practical skills, for example Liverpool John Moores University focus on offering their biological students practical laboratory experience with state of the art equipment instead of a strictly theoretical and research focus.

Course Splits

If you are looking to target female candidates it can be extremely helpful to know the gender splits of the courses you are targeting in different universities. If you are looking to recruit more talented female coders for example, targeting a course with only a 12% gender split of women may not be the best way forward. We have access to extensive course breakdown data which we use for the purpose of targeting universities for our clients. We are therefore able to a offer a breakdown of the top five universities with the highest number of females for you, in order to increase your chances of receiving high quality diverse applications.


Targeting universities in specific locations is often an overlooked targeting method, but if your company is in Surrey and you are targeting the University of Edinburgh you may struggle to find enough relocators. The most effective location sweeps to use involve the universities closest to you but it can also be effective to use LinkedIn tools to target students who study farther afield but are from your location originally. This way students will more likely have friends and family they can stay with in the early stages of recruitment and employment. If we are unable to find suitable local candidates we will open the role to relocators but it is important to remember that to attract and retain these candidates you may have to offer a financial relocation package to help them move.

Educaiton Level

The differences are not often huge but some universities do produce more Masters and PhD level candidates than Bachelors candidates. It is worth considering these numbers if you want a candidate of certain level.

Other universities, such as the University of Liverpool, are paired with universities overseas. As a result, their courses are often heavily made up of international students. You may want to focus on universities with higher numbers of students who are eligible to work in the UK if your company is unable to provide sponsorship.

On the other hand, if you are looking for candidates who are studying in the UK from other countries then partnered universities can be excellent. Some of our specialist clients require candidates who are bi-lingual or  multi-lingual and so targeting courses with students who will are fluent in their own language but also speak and study in English can be ideal.

Extra-Curricular Activities and Awards

Finally, companies can target universities according to what their students engage with outside of their required academic modules. The University of York offers the York Award, which demonstrates that candidates are ‘a proactive person, keen to take on challenges beyond ytheir degree.’ If you are looking for candidates who go the extra mile, looking for universities who actively encourage this can be helpful.

Written by Sophie Chadwick

Posted on Monday Jun 26