With one in five every new graduates unemployed during the last quarter of 2011, competition is tough in today's job market. The Drum spoke to a number of recruitment experts to find out what advice they'd give graduates struggling to find their dream job – or any job at all.
Farooq Mohammed, co-founder, Digital Gurus
The competition out there is very strong at the moment, but the best grads still find work. The difference is the best grads have gone out of their way to make themselves stand out, obviously a strong degree helps, but having the tenacity and focus to target the dream role also helps. Networking is also vital, making human relationships is still the most important way of making an impact.
Justin Moore, recruitment manager, Become
This has always been a tricky candidate pool for specialist recruitment agencies to help. I really feel for struggling unemployed graduates who ring/email me asking for help. Due to the fact that we charge fees for our services, our clients are less likely to approach us to help with graduate recruitment – instead they tend to source trainees from universities, colleges and online searches themselves.
Here at Become, we have recently recruited a new trainee through a government-funded scheme called The Apprentice Academy. The government has been very hot on encouraging more young people into the workplace and finding schemes and organisations to help achieve this. We embarked on an apprentice scheme to help us employ our recent recruit, Iona Bryant. We used The Apprentice Academy in Manchester who sourced a number of Apprentices for us; we interviewed and selected Iona from an impressive group of candidates. The bonus for the apprentice is that we provide them with a two year programme as part of their ongoing NVQ Levels 1 and 2 qualifications – so, not only are they gaining commercially viable work experience, but they’re also working towards a qualification too. I would definitely recommend that graduates go out and try to find schemes like this to join. It gives you excellent work experience to include on your CV and also gets your foot on the employment ladder.
Ann Downs, managing director, Green Shoots Recruitment
Make sure there are no spelling errors in your CV. Try to get some work experience in your relevant field; offer to work for free if necessary, make sure you add this to your CV. If you are a creative graduate and are sending work samples, send some commercial pieces and make the pdf an email-able size. Creative graduates should put more thought into the design layout of their CVs as companies look for this, but don’t go mad and make it good size for emailing. Please only apply for jobs that are relevant to your experience, no one is going to put a graduate with little or no experience into a director role.
Anna Smith, director, Beyond the Book
We would advise graduates to follow some simple rules to give themselves every possible chance of standing out. It’s about being focused, patient and relevant. Oh, and being prepared to relocate for a job. All too often gradates will pass up an opportunity because it isn’t close to home.
- Know yourself very well. What is your core value/specialism/talent?
- Be prepared to communicate what you are, clearly and articulately, to every person, recruitment agency, follower, etc., and equally write a CV that has the same clarity and focus
- Research employers who employ people like ‘you’ and talk to recruiters about employers who employ people like ‘you’
- Approach prospective employers and recruiters in a timely manner with a message that articulately and succinctly explains your relevance. Email is best
- Stay calm. You may not get a response, so don’t expect one. Follow any communication up on a regular basis but with a friendly, quick reminder. Staying front of mind when you believe you can add value is key so that, when an opportunity does come up, you will be remembered!
- You need to stand out, and the best way to do that is to show that you have considered your approach thoughtfully and taken the time to communicate who you are, what you are, and your passion, in a short covering letter and a relevant and professional CV
Jo Joseph, associate commercial director – creative, Major Players
Ultimately graduates need to know that getting a job is a full time job which requires dedication, commitment and determination! Think of yourself as a brand, really consider your positioning, your key strengths and what you can offer your next employer. Certainly in the creative space, your folio is key. This is your selling tool and it has to really reflect you and your best work and show what you’re capable off. At this level, graduates shouldn’t be afraid of going direct to the top, and getting themselves seen and heard by people in the business.
Mike Carter, managing director, Orchard
Advice for graduates is always the same really, whatever the climate. Build your experience, paid or unpaid; a graduate with real work experience is more desirable then one without, as well as the obvious possibility of making yourself indispensable whilst working for free. Always remember that you will learn an enormous amount in your first role, so the value of the salary pales in comparison to the value to you of the experience in terms of learning and future employability.
Unemployment image via Shutterstock