The Awards

Who is eligible to enter?

All graduate, apprenticeship and school leaver employers or their agencies may submit a nomination. You can submit work from 2022/23 or 2023/24 campaigns (unless otherwise stated).

How are the awards judged?

All student panel awards are shortlisted and judged exclusively by undergraduates and school students, making the targetjobs National Graduate Recruitment Awards the most accurate reflection of recruiters’ standing with their audience.

Entries should be booked by Wednesday 31 January 2024 (you will then have until midnight Thursday 8 February 2024 to complete your submission). Once closed we will host an independently adjudicated judging process in which carefully selected final-year undergraduates, apprentices, school leavers shortlist and industry professionals select winners for each category. Their decision is final and neither GTI, the adjudicators nor the student panel will enter into any correspondence on the decisions made.  

In addition to the student panel awards there are sector awards, which are voted for by students in a national poll administered by our research partner Cibyl and the Graduate Employer of the Year Award, which you can enter if you are shortlisted for any of the award categories.

What are the judging criteria?

Each award has specific judging criteria, which are outlined under each category in this pack. Please follow these criteria as these will directly correspond to the points awarded by the student judges. Please do not exceed the stated word count for each criteria.

How do I submit an entry/entries?

  1. When you are ready you can book and submit your entry here. You will be asked to login to a secure platform to complete your entry online.
  2. You will see the costs associated with entering and can pay by credit card or receive a proforma-invoice by email as a booking confirmation.
  3. For each entry, a fee of £199 is payable (£238.80 including VAT). There is a special rate (£850+VAT) available for five entries or more for the ‘Rising star’ and ‘Apprentice of the year’ awards.
  4. There is a special fee of £120 (£144 including VAT) for HE institutions entering the 'best university employability strategy' and the 'HE careers and employability team of the year' awards.
  5. If you are a member of the The Sustainable Recruitment Alliance you can enter the sustainability in early talent recruitment award free of charge.
  6. Please book all your entries on one order by clicking the box 'Add more entries'. Contact Paul Clarke (paul.clarke@groupgti.com) if you have any queries.
  7. You may wish to include relevant supporting material (eg promotional material, photographs or links to video) with your submission. Bear in mind each judge will spend the same amount of time (usually between 15–20 minutes) on each submission. These can be uploaded when you complete the entry.
  8. Shortlisted entries will be notified after the judging has taken place.

Panel awards for employers – judged exclusively by students

The apprentice of the year award

This award recognises the contribution made by a recent apprentice. The person you nominate must have started an apprenticeship in the last three years or still on an apprenticeship programme. You may enter more than one apprentice for this award. A special price is available for five entries or more.

Please introduce your nominated apprentice. Tell us a bit about their personal and educational background and their current role. Judges will score your entry against the following criteria. Please provide answers under each of the headings below.

  • How has your apprentice exceeded the expectations set by the organisation or manager and the performance of their peer group? (250 words)
  • How have they contributed to the success and culture of their team, department, business area or wider organisation? (250 words)
  • How have they made a positive impact on the working environment and on their colleagues? (250 words)
  • How have they demonstrated their ambition and potential for future success? (250 words)

The best apprenticeship programme award

This award recognises excellence in the design of your apprenticeship programme, the buy-in from leadership, a clear proposition suited to the target audience and a positive experience for your apprentices.  

Judges will score your entry against the following criteria. Please provide answers under each of the headings below.

  • What are the reasons why your organisation recruits apprentices? (100 words)
  • What is your specific programme offering to apprentice candidates? (200 words)
  • How has your organisation identified and targeted students for your programme? (200 words)
  • What channels and tools have you used to attract, assess and recruit students for your programme? (200 words)
  • What development programme do you have in place, including training, development and progression opportunities, to ensure future success in the organisation? (200 words)
  • Tell us about the impact of your apprentice recruitment. (100 words)

The best diversity and inclusion strategy award

This award celebrates organisations that are proactively increasing the diversity of their early years’ intake through a more inclusive approach to attraction and selection.

Judges will score your entry against the following criteria. Please provide answers under each of the headings below.

  • Tell us how and why diversity and inclusion are considered as part of your student recruitment activity. (200 words)
  • Please outline your diversity recruitment strategy and objectives. (200 words)
  • How has your organisation identified and targeted students from an under-represented group(s)? (200 words)
  • What channels, tools and techniques have you used to attract, assess and recruit students from these groups? (200 words)
  • Tell us about the impact of your diversity and inclusion activity. (200 words)

The rising star award

This award recognises the contribution made by a recent graduate. The person you nominate must have joined the organisation within the last three years. You may enter more than one graduate for this award. A special rate is available for five entries or more.

Please introduce your nominated graduate. Tell us a bit about their personal and educational background and their current role. Judges will score your entry against the following criteria.

Please provide answers under each of the headings below.

  • How has your graduate exceeded the expectations set by the organisation or manager and the performance of their peer group? (250 words)
  • How have they contributed to the success and culture of their team, department, business area or wider organisation? (250 words)
  • How have they made a positive impact on the working environment and on their colleagues? (250 words)
  • How have they demonstrated their ambition and potential for future success? (250 words)

The best on-boarding experience award

This award recognises quality in the new joiner experience, from receiving an offer for a graduate position to completing their first six months in role.

Judges will score your entry against the following criteria. Please provide answers under each of the headings below.

  • How do you ensure that your graduates remain engaged and become even more engaged with the organisation between offer and joining? This can include details of any on-boarding software/technical infrastructure that is utilised during this process. (250 words)
  • How do you ensure that your graduates are ready to join the organisation and be productive in their role? This can include details of any on-boarding software/technical infrastructure that is utilised during this process. (250 words)
  • Please outline the induction process that takes place during the first six months of your graduate programme. (250 words)
  • How do you deem your on-boarding process to be successful? (250 words)

The best internship or placement programme award

This award recognises industry-leading programmes designed for students to experience your organisation during a placement, internship or other period of work experience.

Judges will score your entry against the following criteria. Please provide answers under each of the headings below.

  • How do you identify, target, attract and recruit students onto your programme? (250 words)
  • Tell us about the design, structure and implementation of the programme, including how you interact with the business to maintain an excellent experience. (250 words)
  • Please outline the quality of the work and opportunities made available to students on your programme. (250 words)
  • How do you manage students on the programme and beyond so that successful students remain part of your talent pipeline? (250 words)

The best student marketing campaign award

This award examines how you have developed an integrated attraction campaign that has successfully led to the engagement and attraction of your target audience(s).

Judges will score your entry against the following criteria. Please provide answers under each of the headings below.

  • Tell us about your marketing campaign objectives and the measures you put in place to determine success. (200 words)
  • Explain your delivery, execution and promotion through social and professional networking channels, what part these channels played in the campaign and how you used them to target and reach the right students. (200 words)
  • How did you integrate your website into your overall campaign? Tell us what functionality you relied on here and how the user experience and design of your website fed into and complemented your overall marketing campaign. (200 words)
  • Tell us about any other innovative/creative features, tools, channels or media you used as part of the campaign and how you measured their success. (200 words)
  • Please outline your campaign success against your objectives. (200 words)

The best innovation in recruitment award

This award captures innovation in the engagement of students in early careers recruitment, it may have been the result of an environmental factor or part of an initative to forfil a strategic objective.

You can enter any innovation (from an assessment centre to an insight day) into this category, but it should be a new idea, method or device.

Judges will score your entry against the following criteria. Please provide answers under each of the headings below.

  • Please outline the objectives of your recruitment innovation. This should include some key performance indicators to demonstrate the level of success. (200 words)
  • Tell is if the innovation is sustaining, disruptive, incremental or radical? Explain exactly how it’s an innovation. (200 words)
  • How did you get students engaged in your innovation? This can include details of any marketing/software/technical infrastructure that was deployed. (200 words)
  • Tell us about the impact of your innovation (including some feedback from students) and how it will influence future recruitment plans. (200 words)

Panel awards for employers – judged by industry professionals

The best social mobility strategy award

This award recognises organisations that have set out to widen participation in their early years programme(s) by identifying, targeting, attracting, selecting and recruiting students from lower socio-economic groups.

Judges will score your entry against the following criteria. Please provide answers under each of the headings below.

  • Tell us how and why widening participation and social mobility are considered as part of your student recruitment activity. (200 words)
  • Please outline your social mobility strategy and objectives. (200 words)
  • How has your organisation defined, identified and targeted students from lower socio-economic groups? (200 words)
  • What channels, tools and techniques have you used to attract, assess and recruit students from lower socio-economic groups? (200 words)
  • Tell us about the impact of your social mobility activity. (200 words)

The sustainability in early talent recruitment award

This award recognises the commitment made by an organisation to take an eco-friendlier approach to early talent recruitment.

If you are a member of The Sustainable Recruitment Alliance you can enter this category for FREE.  

Judges will score your entry against the following criteria. Please provide answers under each of the headings below.

  • Tell us how you have reviewed your early talent processes and operations, identifying opportunities to be more sustainable. (200 words)
  • How have you reduced and/or switched to sustainable alternatives? How have you found greener ways of engaging with your target audience? We are particularly interested in how you’ve innovated and reimagined what’s possible.  (300 words)
  • Tell us about the impact you have made. How have you reimagined what’s possible? Report what you’ve changed, demonstrating with facts and figures. (250 words)
  • Make a pledge and tell us how you in intend to build on this ambition and embed sustainability over the next 12 months. (200 words)

The early careers professional of the year award

This award recognises the contribution made by a member or head of a recruitment or talent development team.

Please introduce your nominated professional. Tell us a bit about their background and current role. Judges will score your entry against the following criteria. Please provide answers under each of the headings below.

  • How has your nominee exceeded the expectations set by the organisation or manager and the performance of their peer group? (250 words)
  • How have they contributed to the success of their team, department, business area or wider organisation? (250 words)
  • How have they made a positive impact on the recruitment or talent development process for students/graduates/apprentices and on their colleagues? (250 words)
  • How have they demonstrated their commitment and contribution within the early careers profession more broadly? (250 words)

Panel awards for higher education institutions

The best university employability strategy award

This award celebrates the achievements of higher education institutions in ensuring that their undergraduates are best equipped to achieve their potential when searching and applying for graduate roles and transitioning to employment.

Judges will score your entry against the following criteria. Please provide answers under each of the headings below.

  • Describe your broad approach to student employability. (100 words)
  • How do you work with academics and other departments to ensure that students develop a broader range of skills throughout their time at university? (200 words)
  • Describe the engagement/relationship you have with the senior management of the university in the design and implementation of your employability strategy. (200 words)
  • Tell us about the activities and opportunities you provide for your students to ensure that they are equipped for future success, including the involvement of alumni, parents and employers and innovations in this area. (400 words)
  • How do you encourage students to make the best use of the careers service and participate in your activities? (100 words)
  • How do you measure and demonstrate success in employability? Your answer should include your key achievements and progress in this area. (200 words)

The HE careers and employability team of the year award

This award recognises a department, committee or special project team that has made a significant impact or achieved significant results over the last year. The team will have overcome obstacles, utilised skills of all members, or collaborated with others to achieve high quality outcomes demonstrating overall service in the wider HE community.

Judges will score your entry against the following criteria. Please provide answers under each of the headings below.

  • Describe in detail how TOGETHER the team have demonstrated exceptional collaboration towards a common goal. (What have you achieved to think of yourselves as an exceptional team.) (250 words)
  • Explain how you have created an environment that encourages EVERYONE to work together. (How do you utilise skills, communicate and acknowledge everyone.) (250 words)
  • Describe how has the team ACHIEVES and displays a united effort implementing high quality outcomes, professional development or programmes. (250 words)
  • Citing specific examples, quantify how the team has achieved MORE to the department, university or community. (250 words)



The sector awards – voted for by students

The winner of each award is determined by an online student poll conducted by our research partner Cibyl and we have captured over 66,000 student votes in 2023. All shortlisted organisations are also eligible to enter for the graduate employer of the year award. These awards recognise the most popular graduate recruiters in the following fourteen categories:

  • Accounting and financial management
  • Banking, insurance and financial services
  • Construction, civil engineering and surveying
  • Consulting
  • Consumer goods – manufacturing and marketing
  • Energy and utilities
  • Engineering, design and manufacture
  • Investment banking and investment
  • Law – solicitors
  • Public sector
  • Retail
  • Scale-up
  • Scientific research and development
  • Technology




The AGCAS award – voted for by careers and employability professionals

The AGCAS award for excellence in careers and employability service engagement focuses on employers who develop and sustain good working relationships with higher education careers and employability services.

Voted for by careers and employability professionals, the award recognises those employers who provide outstanding support for careers services’ work with students and graduates.




The graduate employer of the year award – judged by HR and recruitment industry leaders

The pinnacle of the evening is always the graduate employer of the year award, sponsored by ShortlistMe

Shortlisted employers and campaigns from all categories judged to be ‘the best of the best’ by a group of HR and recruitment industry leaders.

Who is this award for?

The award highlights the standout recruiters in the graduate recruitment space, understanding and recognising what recruiters are doing to attract, recruit, onboard, train and retain talent. The award is not looking to judge the flashiest campaigns or those organisations that have the biggest budgets, but the employer creating a great, consistent experience for candidates at each stage. The key is consistency. This is what makes a graduate employer of the year.

How is it judged?

Employers’ responses to the application questions are benchmarked against responses from the current graduates working in that organisation. Each organisation is required to submit a minimum of five graduate responses. The judges are seeking to determine what each employer is doing across the entire candidate lifecycle and how these actions are received by, and benefit, the graduates who have joined the organisation. Entries are judged by a group of handpicked professionals from around the graduate recruitment sector, with the winner crowned at the targetjobs Awards!

Importantly, this prestigious award is ONLY open to shortlisted organisations.

This award is open after the shortlists are announced.