There are jobs out there! June 28, 2012Posted by Kirsti Burton in : The Careers Group Blogs , add a comment
Originally posted at QM Jobs Blog
If unrelenting coverage of the eurozone crisis and rising unemployment is driving you deeper under the duvet, take a moment to read the following good news which you won’t find in the press:
- Early signs indicate that employment rates amongst 2011 graduates rose slightly, particularly inLondon;
- JobOnline, the student and graduate vacancy site from the University of London, currently holds a record number of vacancies (1,171 at time of writing).
- Graduate training schemes with the big employers (the ones that market themselves heavily on campus) hire just 10% of graduates nationally. Most graduate jobs are with small or medium sized organisations where the competition for each job is far lower than you’ll read about in the press;
- High Fliers (which surveys these same big employers) reported that 50% are expanding their recruitment programmes in 2012;
- Nationwide graduates still have a far higher employment rate and higher salaries than non-graduates – find out more with the 2012 ONS Graduates in Labour Market Survey;
- And if you’re expecting a 2:2 and worried this means your chances of getting a graduate job are over, you’re wrong – read this excellent blog post to find out more…
So, with your sense of hope restored, here are 3 essential tactics for successful job-hunting!
- Finding your first job can feel like a full-time job in itself – that’s normal, job-hunting is really time-consuming: commit time to it and plan a schedule so you spend at least two hours a day making productive progress.
- Be smart about where and how you look for vacancies. Don’t just focus on graduate training schemes with the big employers (or you’ll count out most of your job options!). Avoid unfocused internet searches. Get one-to-one advice from your careers service on networking and where to look for vacancies in your particular area. An effective approach usually includes all or most of the following:
- weekly searches on the specialist vacancy sites for your area (you can find most of these sites listed here www.prospects.ac.uk/links/occupations);
- weekly searches on JobOnline
- targeted networking;
- use of one or two recruitment agencies;
- direct approaches to employers of interest (and regular checks on their websites);
- a flexible approach (e.g. take an internship if it’s in an area of interest).
- If you need help with any of the above – planning your job hunt, finding vacancies, working out what sort of job would suit you, writing applications, practising interview skills – many careers services are open all summer.There are jobs out there…
Your results – what next? July 4, 2011Posted by TCG Info in : employability and skills , 2comments
So the results are in. How did you do? Did you get that 1st class degree everyone hopes for? Or do you feel there are no options now you failed to grasp that 2:1? You are not alone. Around 30% of graduates leave with a 2:2 degree and the good news is that there are still lots of options open to you.
As careers advisers we often see graduates with a 2:2 suddenly start to talk about doing a masters course. Typically there are three reasons for doing a masters: a) desire to specialise and increase employability; b) passion to learn more about the subject and c) compensate for poorer grades achieved to date. Unfortunately the third reason doesn’t usually work. Many graduate recruiters don’t differentiate between a masters and an undergraduate degree – although some (e.g. ExonMobil) will take a 2:2 plus a relevant postgraduate qualification. If you want to do a masters then make sure your motivation is right.
So how can you progress in life with a 2:2?
OK so many of the Graduate Schemes are closed to you because they require a 2:1 or above. But there are some schemes out there that are open to 2:2: degrees. Some examples that might help you get started:
- PWC Inspired Talent
- Civil Service Fast Stream
- Network Rail
- London Treasurer’s Graduate Scheme
- NHS Management
- Scottish Power
- Jaguar Landrover
So from that (non-exhaustive) list you can see the diversity of schemes available – from Government to manufacturing, professional services to retail. Trawling through the internet should help find many others.
It’s easy to get distracted by graduate schemes. These corporations often have large budgets to market their career opportunities to students. But typically only about 10% of graduates go into a graduate scheme. That’s all, just 10%. Maybe about 35% will do further study, leaving 55% of graduates doing something else.
It’s tough out there. There aren’t any jobs. The media keeps broadcasting a message of doom and gloom about the job market which isn’t very helpful. The graduate job market is generally always challenging and competition is usually strong. When thinking about your next steps there are several factors to consider.
- If you wanted a specific graduate scheme, why was that? Was it because of the company (if so, search entry level positions in same firm), the role (find alternative employers with similar roles) or location (refine your job search geographically but broaden criteria).
- What can you do in the short term to position yourself better in the future? For example, aspiring accountant and Royal Holloway graduate is building on his 2:2 by putting himself through the ICAEW Certificate because it shares the same modules as the ACA.
- Can I do it myself? Many current entrepreneurs have started their businesses with very little money, just a positive attitude and some basic business skills.
A 2:2 is not the end of the world. Alumni from across the University of London have done very well in life despite their 2:2 degrees. It may seem like it’s a barrier but, by thinking differently, it shouldn’t be a major disadvantage.
Graduates can continue to get careers support from their colleges in the University of London Careers Group by joining Gradclub.
Is your CV heading for the shredder? August 17, 2010Posted by Helen Curry in : CVs , 1 comment so far
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Recruiters are having their say about common CV mistakes to avoid in The Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) LinkedIn discussion group – some useful tips here that I had to share.
Mistakes to avoid:
- Poor spelling and grammar (as ever – but they all say it!)
- Unusual formatting – it should be easy to scan.
- Hard-to-find contact details
- Targeting another company/job
- Too long – two pages is the standard for graduates in the UK, unless it is for an academic position. You can always put ‘references available on request’ instead of lengthy referee contact details
- Awkward copy and paste
- Not specifying the necessary grades when the position has minimum requirements
Stating they have four A-levels ranging from A* to C is of no help… I’ll cynically assume there were more Cs than A*s!
- Last-minute applications – tolerance levels go down when recruiters are swamped by a rush of applications at deadline-time
- Use of tiny fonts and slim margins to cram in more text – instead make strategic cuts to highlight the best, stand-out content.
- Cover letters that begin “Dear Recruiter”…
It is so easy to pick up the phone to find out the name of the lead recruiter – a personal approach is so much more powerful.
- Crazy fonts and colour schemes – often inappropriate for traditional corporate roles, though it can be good for creatives…
- Obvious template CVs – recruiters do get familiar with some of them!
Freebies – the only reason to attend a careers fair? December 1, 2009Posted by Helen Curry in : Uncategorized , 1 comment so far
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I spotted this diary article by student Duncan Robinson in the Independent, and I wanted to respond from a careers service perspective, as I think quite a lot of students have similar experiences. In fact, when I was a student my friends and I went just to compete to collect the most freebies. We were wasting our time. I now know how to get much more than chocolate at a careers fair!
Freebies are the only reason to attend a careers fair… There is very little in the way of actual information to be gained.
First of all, there is a lot of information to be had, it just depends what kind of information you are looking for! To get the most out of a careers fair, I would recommend you already have a good idea of what career path you want to pursue and what roles you want to consider.
Drifting into a crowded bustling environment and having random two-minute chats complete strangers is not the best way to make a career choice! If you visit your careers service in advance you can discover the details about what the job titles mean.
A careers fair is best used to find information like:
- which company is best for you
- tips for applications and interviews at that company – what makes a candidate stand out?
- what sort of work experience is needed?
- an insider view to help you choose between a couple of roles you find interesting
- which areas of the business are on the rise and which areas are suffering
Work out what information you need before you go to the fair and perhaps think of a few approaches you might try – what questions will you ask, what further contacts you might like to seek out e.g. a name and email in HR. It is all about preparation!
The brochures you receive rarely answer questions about what working for a particular company entails. There probably isn’t enough space between the pictures of the good-looking staff and inspirational headlines.
Company brochures will have a promotional slant. They are not aiming to produce a general guide to the profession, they are looking to inspire and to attract the best graduates to apply to them.
To them, the best candidates will probably have already done research into the details of the role, or will be self-motivated enough to research the role after learning about it at the fair.
When it comes to details like what working for that company is really like – you are really better off just asking the staff on the stand as you are more likely to get an honest and grounded perspective. With a few well-judged questions you can find out what the working hours are really like, how much time-off you get to study for qualifications, and build up the bigger picture from there. These aren’t always the kind of details that can go into the management-approved, nationally-distributed brochure.
Those running the stands were often just as unhelpful. I went in the afternoon and five hours of slack-jawed undergraduates asking the same questions had obviously worn them down. Most queries were answered with a resigned “take this brochure and look on the website”.
From personal experience I can say it is exhausting to man a stand at a fair all day. Employers often mention to us whether the students seem well-informed or not as it really affects their experience of the fair. If students are prepared, they ask the employers intelligent and varied questions; the students benefit by receiving unique information, and the employers enjoy reflecting on their work and feel valued. If students come with a blank canvas, employers are faced with the daunting task of summarising in a minutes their role, the graduate scheme, the training, the application process, repeatedly… all day… Of course they will be worn down and frustrated if students can get that information anyway from the website. It is a waste of their time.
How can you overcome careers fair fatigue? It is always a good strategy to get there early on if you can, when people are still fresh. If that is not possible, then think about how you can mark yourself out as different to the rest. It is always encouraging to see a student get out of jeans and into office wear, as it is immediately clear they have given the fair some thought. When you begin to ask questions, you could start by stating – ‘I read your brochure and I wanted to know more about…’ and ask specific questions rather than the dreaded ‘so what do you do then?’. If you haven’t read the brochure before, then go to a quiet corner, read it, and come back to the stand later!
In some ways, the fair seemed quite surreal. “What recession?” I thought. “There are thousands of jobs here”. Then I realised that this was the same fair that was going to every other university in the country. My university alone will be spewing out more than 6,000 graduates this year…
It is not the same fair at every university! It is not a travelling circus! Each university careers service will be seeking out employer contacts and trying to persuade them to come to their fair. Some employers will only go to the top-ten universities in the league table, some will aim to target specific regions where they have offices. Some recruiters will be at lots of events because they like to have a high profile and they are ready for hundreds of applications to sift through to find the best – yes these will be competitive. Yet others are there because graduates don’t tend to think of them or they offer unconventional roles, and they want to attract more applicants. If you are feeling more open-minded about your career, these can offer you better odds on a job.
When it comes to the recession – so what if that is increasing competition for jobs? There are still thousands of jobs out there, and the best graduates will get them. Make yourself competitive! And as my Dad likes to say – ‘if you don’t enter, you can’t win‘.
Graduate Talent Pool launches today July 29, 2009Posted by Helen Curry in : Uncategorized , add a comment
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Just a reminder that the Graduate Talent Pool internship matching website is now open for business.
Having had a quick look around the internship listings, it looks like there is a good number of opportunities available in London. Sectors covered range from Insurance to the Environment, Logistics to Finance, Advertising to Construction, so there should be something for everyone. Many of the internships I viewed were paid, but not all – it tends to vary by sector.
The site is definitely worth a look, and it might be a good idea to get your application in first as publicity surrounding the scheme may mean the positions receive a lot of applications. I hope more businesses will be encouraged to participate.
networking , 4comments
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Example questions to ask at employer networking events.
- What do you enjoy most and least about your job?
- How did you get your job?
- Did the job differ from what you expected?
- What degree did you do? Was it useful? Which aspects?
About the job
- Can you tell me about your typical day at work?
- Are there any many training opportunities?
- Do you get a lot of feedback on how you are doing?
- What sort of person fits in well at this company?
About job hunting in that sector
- Do people tend to change jobs and companies for career progression (how often?), or do they pursue promotions internally?
- Where are vacancies advertised? / Where does your company advertise?
- What sort of things make candidates stand out?
- Can you think of any courses or projects I could work on that would help me?
Asking for a favour
(After the above, if the conversation went well)
- Are there any opportunities for work shadowing/temporary work?
- Are there any projects I could help on to get a flavour of the job?
- Who else do you think it would be useful for me to talk to?
You might want to make some notes after a conversation to refer to later – names, tips, whether you got a good feeling that you would fit there?