James Taylor, Director at East Midlands Based Recruitment Company, Macildowie
After nearly two decades in education, graduation from University will see a whole generation of job seekers venturing for the first time into the world of full-time employment. The prospect of a graduate position at a top UK company is highly desirable, here James Taylor, director at recruitment company Macildowie talks about the competition in the marketplace and explains how individuals can stand out from the crowd.
The 2013 High Fliers report on graduate recruitment and the latest quarterly survey by the British Chamber of Commerce both show that the number of graduate vacancies in the UK is on the rise. We have not yet reached the dizzying heights of a pre-crash 2006/07 market, but the signs for the future are improving.
Whilst competition remains fierce for any available positions, the fact remains that many companies looking to recruit graduates, simply aren’t able to find candidates to match
There are two main problems:
1) There is a continuing mis-match between supply and demand, both from a subject-specific skills perspective and the sheer amount of individuals hitting the graduate recruitment market with inflated expectations and a lack of understanding of what it is to be employable.
2) Many graduates are looking for ‘any’ job, as opposed to focusing their efforts on what it is they really want to do. This comes across in their application, so my advice is to send out fewer applications but tailor each one to the opportunity you are applying for. STOP hitting send to every job that mentions the word ‘graduate’.
In our experience, employers in all sectors report feeling overwhelmed by the number of graduates applying for jobs with them, yet they are completely underwhelmed by the caliber of applicant and their knowledge of what it means to pursue a career with that business. The other issue is that many graduates have a basic lack of employability skills and what used to be called, social graces. Candidates with experience of placements or internships or anytime spent in a real working environment, are the ones securing the majority of graduate-level jobs. Good A-levels and a degree from a red-brick university is not enough anymore, the opening up of
university places over the last ten years has flooded the market with academically qualified individuals. Taking the initiative to gain first-hand experience in a chosen sector will help give your CV chance to make its way to the top of the pile.
There has been a sharp rise in the number of major firms recruiting their graduate intake from people who undertook placements or internships with them. This is ‘safe recruitment’, firms are narrowing down the field of potential applicants to those they themselves have real-life experience working with, they are treating the work placement period as almost an extended interview exercise.
More recently there have even been examples of company’s selecting potential graduate employee’s from a pool of school age interns, before a degree has started. This process of funneling students into positions from the age of 16 plus, gives firms a chance to mould individuals into employable recruits, but it does raise the question of what happens to people who don’t work out what they really want to do for a living until the age of 20, or much older?
In addition to filling in an application with both academic and real-life experience, the manner in which this information is presented to potential employers is beginning to change. Standing out and thinking differently can have a real impact on the effectiveness of an application. The rise of social media websites such as Linked-In are giving candidates a great opportunity to dig a little deeper and research a role before applying.
Connecting with current members of staff and line managers at a company an individual has applied to, will also create personal links before an interview has even taken place. A digital introduction can open up potential crossovers in past work experience between interviewer and interviewee. When a large company is speaking to hundreds of candidates, any advantage or leg-up that can be gained can make all of the difference.
The graduate recruitment market is on the rise but the competition for places will always remain fierce. The parameters of what it is to be employable as a graduate have tightened and individuals are increasingly required to convince the person reading the CV or conducting the interview, that they know exactly what it is that they are applying for. This may seem like common sense, but so many fail at the first hurdle!