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Graduates left out in the cold

September 14, 2011

Having now graduated from two institutions of higher education, each time with an ok degree by most people’s standards, I feel that I now have a sufficient enough understanding of graduate recruitment to throw my two cents into the debate that currently surrounds the future of the UK’s young people.

While I myself am trying to break into a notoriously tricky industry – the world of media can be so cruel – it seems that nearly every graduate across the country is experiencing the same soul-destroying search for employment that so frequently ends in bitter disappointment and frustration.

“Hiring graduates is a risky business you see… All that training that we have to put them through. It’s really more of an investment than a recruitment,” is what one company recently told my friend – who by the way left an incredibly good university with a first – after putting her through an intense round of interviews, psychometric tests and online verbal reasoning exams.

This to me seems completely preposterous. How on earth is graduate recruitment going to pick up if the majority of employers view intelligent and suitable candidates as a “risk” simply because of their age? Graduates are, and forgive the cliche here, the future of the economy and it seems to me that companies and businesses would be wise to invest now while they still can, rather than following the “safer” option.

In this day and age, fresh creativity and innovation are what is needed in order to boost a company’s reputation and playing it safe is likely to leave you flagging behind the competition who were bold and brave enough to take the risk. And really, how much of a risk is it to hire a graduate who is perfectly suited to the job, comes with excellent grades and references and has leapt through every hoop you place in front of them with skill and finesse?

Then we come down to the issue of “experience”, or lack there of in most cases. While I completely understand the need for recruiters to filter out those candidates with no experience and those who have had a wealth of relevant jobs or placements, companies are becoming so focused on the amount of past experience that they are missing out on the chance to hire true talent.

I recently heard of a company turning down a potential candidate because, while she had completed numerous internships and work experience placements within her chosen industry, she had yet to have held down a “paid, full-time position” and was therefore deemed unsuitable for the job.

Again this seems like the most complex and brutal of cycles that will inevitably leave the majority of graduates feeling as though they are fighting a losing battle. If we cannot presume to be hired until we have held down a relevant, paid, professional position and yet we cannot secure one of these positions without already having procured one….? Ridiculous.

To all of the graduates out there, don’t lose heart. Your hard work and effort will pay off and, in the meantime, take the opportunity to get creative. Demonstrate something to any potential employers that will not only showcase your talents and abilities but also make you stand out from the crowd in an unforgettable way.

Take fashion-forward job seeker Celine Cavaillero, for example. Celine is on the hunt for a job in the fashion industry which, much like journalism is another seemingly impossible industry to crack. Rather than sit back and rest on her laurels however, Celine took a risk and designed a website which would showcase her talents and skills in a fresh, innovative and unforgettable way. The result? See for yourself at

While we may not all be as talented in web design as Celine, she sets the perfect example for any graduate currently searching for the perfect job. The current economic climate is brutal and, as you can see from my above rants, employers aren’t always going out of their way to offer you a helping hand up the job ladder. So help yourself, go above and beyond was is required and expected and force your way up those rungs with every effort you have.

I don’t know about you but I’m exhausted already.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Dean permalink
    September 14, 2011 12:33 am

    A tip for anyone, graduate or not. Craft your CV and cover letter in a way that explains you understand the goals of the business you are applying to. If you get an interview, don’t spend all your time trying to tell someone you got a 1st or a 2-1. Show potential employers you adapt easily, try to call upon your experiences that prove you are good at handling pressure and give examples of how quickly you can learn and how eager you are to further yourself without the need for external coaching or teaching.

    When I interview people I spend more time trying to work out if they have it in them try to solve any problem put in front of them Than speaking about their formal qualifications and I also make sure I am certain that they love the industry I work in.

    Ultimately, in today’s changing world it’s not important to the employer what you have been taught at uni, what’s important, and impressive, is what you taught yourself, what you have a passion for and what your likely to teach yourself in the years to come. That’s the sort of drive and determination that shines through and gets you noticed!

    Do employers want people who can prove they have learnt, or do they want people who never want to stop learning.

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