Graduates with chutzpah can find jobs
IT’S tough out there for graduates. A survey by the Association of Graduate Recruiters found that for every job there are 68.8 applicants, with the number going up to 205 for jobs in food, confectionary and cosmetics. Aldi, the supermarket chain, received 12,000 applications for 50 places on its management scheme. Seventy-eight per cent of employers will only look at those with a 2.1.
But it’s not all doom and gloom, especially in the City. Firms are recruiting again – Ernst & Young is looking for 30 per cent more people this year than last year, and it will employ 900 university leavers in 2011. Youngsters are appreciated too. A survey by City recruiter Robert Half found that 63 per cent of employers prefer younger people. They also say that some employers believe that today’s graduates are more commercially-minded than those from the generation preceding them. Youngsters are sharp, learn fast – and they are relatively cheap.
If you are a graduate and you are reading this, then you are probably already in the City, perhaps on a placement, so you’ve got your foot in the door. But the question now is how to translate that into a job offer. David Royston-Lee, former head of career management services at KPMG, has recently written a book called How to Win From the Start, based on the number of people who said to him that they wish they had known in their 20s what they do now. Firstly, he says, don’t be defeatist. There are lots of people sitting on sofas right now saying that there is no point in looking for a job. Well, the jobs aren’t going to arrive if they stay on that sofa. They do exist, and only those who look will find them. If you are out there, you have a head start.
This might sound silly, but don’t be tempted to take any old job. Make sure you go for something that suits you. Otherwise, you won’t enjoy it, and you won’t be good at it. Ask yourself three questions: “Who am I?”, “where am I going?”, and “how am I going to get there?” Talk to people about what different jobs involve. Do as many internships as possible. “Do them in as many places as you can, and do some temp work to find out what you are good at. Talk to somebody who is already working there before you apply,” says Royston-Lee, so you know if it’ll suit you. If you have to work in the evenings to finance unpaid work experience, then so be it. That’s life right now.
If you are job-hunting then you are likely to have plenty of interviews. One problem of being young is that you don’t have a lot of experience, so how do you impress? You should think about what you are passionate about and find ways of talking about it, says Royston-Lee. “I get people to write vignettes about what they’ve done, showcasing their talents. If somebody asks you it helps if you have practiced those stories.”
If you have run something – a business, a magazine, a theatre group – put it down and ensure you tell people. People do not expect you to have the skills for the job, they are “looking for somebody with some passion, some chutzpah, some energy.” Make sure you know about the business that is interviewing you. If it is an investment bank, they will ask you about investment banking. Prove you are interested.
Once you are on a placement, you have to shine. Don’t do the bare minimum, and don’t moan that you are not being paid. “There are loads of other people doing the same as you, so you need to offer to do more than the job you are being employed to do,” says Royston-Lee. Be keen, ask for work, but don’t overdo it. “Don’t act like somebody who is just trying to get attention; you have to be authentically you.”
Also, he says, get networking – the people you are working with could be the contacts who will give you a job later on.