To read this content please select one of the options below:

Sustainable talent pipelines and person-organisation fit: strategic insights from UK graduates

William E. Donald (Southampton Business School, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK) (Ronin Institute, Montclair, New Jersey, USA)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 3 April 2023

Issue publication date: 27 April 2023




Drawing on a framework of person-organisation fit (POF) theory, this paper aims to understand how organisations can establish and maintain sustainable early-career talent pipelines. Research question one asks, “How do graduates feel that organisations can attract early-career talent?” Research question two asks, ‘What can employers learn from graduate perspectives about the retention of early-career talent?


Twenty-eight graduates from UK universities participated in semi-structured interviews in early 2022. Cohort one was composed of 15 individuals who graduated in 2008. Cohort two was composed of 13 individuals who graduated in 2020.


The findings identified two themes associated with attracting early-career talent: “Company Culture” and “Supply and Demand”. However, 2020 graduates prioritised the job role and job security, whereas 2008 graduates prioritised job location and commute duration. Three additional themes were related to the retention of early-career talent: “Career Progression”, “Health and Well-being” and “Remuneration”. Findings also highlighted how POF could evolve over time, whereby retention can be beneficial or detrimental to either party.

Practical implications

The study identifies pragmatic approaches to attracting and retaining early-career talent and understanding how graduates' views on POF evolve over time.


The study extends POF research and bridges the shared sustainability themes of “person”, “context” and “time” from vocational behaviour and HRM literature streams.



The author would like to thank the participants for sharing their views. The author would also like to thank Professor Yehuda Baruch (University of Southampton) and Dr Jane Clark-Ambrosini (University of Winchester) for their feedback on earlier drafts of the manuscript. The author is also grateful for the feedback received from Professor Marzena Stor and colleagues on an earlier version of this work presented at the 5th Global Conference on International Human Resource Management in New York in May 2022. Finally, the author would like to thank the Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor Jennifer Harrison, and the two reviewers for their valuable support during the peer review process.


Donald, W.E. (2023), "Sustainable talent pipelines and person-organisation fit: strategic insights from UK graduates", Career Development International, Vol. 28 No. 2, pp. 234-249.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles