IN AN EFFORT to attract the best young graduates, employers in Hong Kong are adopting several new tactics. One of the most effective is asking university career centres to shortlist suitable candidates for them. This can be done either by putting forward resumes for consideration or by informally discussing the merits of applications already submitted. All parties see this as an effective way of reducing the recruitment workload and finding the best match for various positions. 'It helps recruiters to access the right pool of people and works to the advantage of students as well,' said Louisa Li, director of the Careers Education and Placement Centre at the University of Hong Kong. Companies that use this method must be specific about the job requirements and the qualifications and personal attributes that the candidates need. The careers centre, in turn, will expect students to be equally clear about what they can offer. In particular, they must demonstrate genuine knowledge of, and interest in, the relevant company if they want to be shortlisted. 'It's an open process with no secrets and no tricks. Students have an opportunity to state their case and improve their chances. More importantly, they can discover their shortcomings and do something about them,' Ms Li said. She added that this involved the need to become 'career mature'. Her standard advice to students was not to apply for an internship or a full-time position without first doing detailed background research on the industry or occupation. Also, it was vital to follow developments affecting the field on a day-to-day basis and have some insight into current issues. 'Students should be reading and thinking about the problems that arise and have a down-to-earth, common sense approach,' Ms Li said. 'Before applying, they should reflect on what they have achieved and what they like doing and, in the meantime, develop themselves by participating in sports and community projects.' The major areas of recruitment this year follow the trends of the past two years: about 69 per cent of graduates went into commerce and industry, 21 per cent into community or social services, 7 per cent into education and 3 per cent into the civil service. Ms Li said that the most talked about jobs were still those in investment banking and management consulting, while the Big Four accounting firms had the most positions to fill. Cathay Pacific continued to enjoy its status as 'perennial favourite'. The commercial banks and multinational fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies can also expect plenty of applications. With the civil service recruiting again, there is renewed interest in government positions and, perhaps surprisingly, in the disciplined services. 'For most employers, it doesn't matter what subjects you studied, as long as you are interested and know something about the industry,' Ms Li said.