The task of finding the right role after university can seem like a minefield. In a world of staff shortages, hybrid working and pandemic related turbulence, it’s hard for graduates to decide what is right for them.
Julia Patience, a specialist in interim, temporary & contract recruitment, joined Core-Asset Consulting as a graduate herself and over the last seven years has helped hundreds of graduates enter the world of work. Julia uses her personal experience and professional expertise to answer these pertinent questions in a bid to give graduates useful pointers on where to go next.
Should graduates look to get straight into work or take time out before searching for a role?
It is all down to the individual when it comes to whether they are ready to step into an office environment, or whether they would like some time out. Employers are very accepting when they see a gap on a candidate’s CV after university, so it is a great time to go on a break for those looking to take one.
For those who are unsure of the exact career path they want to follow but are keen to get working, temporary jobs can be a great option. Not only do they give graduates a chance to get some corporate experience, it can open their eyes to the type of jobs that are out there. Long-term job opportunities can arise while working in temporary roles and extra office experience and corporate exposure is never a bad thing.
How do graduates' job prospects differ this year from previous years?
With staff shortages across various industries, the market for graduates is definitely changing at a fast rate.
The number of graduate scheme vacancies are continuing to increase and come to the fore, which can add to the tough decisions graduates already have to make.
One thing that we try to get over at Core-Asset is that not all graduates have to apply for graduate schemes. There is a plethora of good entry-level jobs out there that don’t necessarily come with the graduate branding but can equally provide excellent careers.
More and more, candidates fresh out of university are starting to discount jobs that are not packaged as a “graduate scheme” which could result in them passing up the job that could kickstart their perfect career.
What common traits do employers look for in graduates?
A strong work ethic is high on the list for employers. When an employer sees a graduate who has worked in part-time roles throughout university to earn an extra bit of money, that’s a green tick. It shows that a candidate knows how to work with people, and can work under someone’s instruction – it’s even better if that person was working in this job for a year or two, highlighting loyalty which is extremely important to businesses.
Communication, organisation, ability to work under pressure, teamwork and flexibility are traits that any employer would be thrilled to see in potential candidates. These traits are incredibly beneficial for thriving in a workplace environment.
Motivation and leadership are another set of traits that employers want to see from their candidates.
For those who are unsure of the exact career path they want to follow but are keen to get working, temporary jobs can be a great option. Not only do they give graduates a chance to get some corporate experience, it can open their eyes to the type of jobs that are out there.Julia Patience Business Manager, Interim, Temporary & Contract
What can a graduate do to get ahead of other candidates in the run up to, or after, graduating?
One thing we always help graduates with at Core-Asset is getting their personal branding in order. By that, we mean their online presence.
Creating a professional LinkedIn profile while making private or cleaning up personal social channels - like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram - can make a big difference in a graduate’s job hunt. As much as job-seekers think employers only look at a candidate’s CV, the majority will go on a deep dive through social channels and Google searches, so having a clean and professional social presence is crucial.
We always tell graduates to use friends and family for getting any sort of work experience or advice. It’s important for graduates to ask their circle to put them in touch with anyone and everyone who could help them in their bid to gain more knowledge about the career path they want to follow. Networking in general, through LinkedIn or university events, for example, can be a great way to give job-seekers a head start.
Joining job websites and signing up to recruitment company mailing lists are also useful tools for quickly flagging a potential vacancy.
We try to tell graduates not to panic too much if they’re unsure of their career path. If a candidate works hard on their CV, online presence, and takes care of the things they can control, the right opportunity will arise.
Any job search tips for people who are looking to get into the financial services sector?
Candidates should always be willing to be flexible in order to get their foot in the door, whether that be in terms of location, salary and hours. This can help a lot when trying to get a start in the finance sector.
Temporary jobs are another great way to get into finance, it can allow candidates to get real-life experience while learning what life in finance is like, even if it's not their dream position. As mentioned before, lots of internal, permanent opportunities arise from these types of roles.
Completing relevant online courses is another excellent way for graduates to get more experience and make them more attractive to employers, highlighting a candidate’s willingness to learn.
What does the perfect graduate CV look like?
The ideal graduate CV should have a summary of the candidate at the top, mentioning the fact that they are a graduate alongside all the relevant contact details.
When looking at a graduate’s CV the first thing an employer wants to see is their higher education, so we always recommend having this near the top of the CV, after that it is good to work backwards in educational history.
A good CV will then delve into work experience which is always really important. Within each sub section, it is good to not only describe a job but to have a smaller section about what a candidate has achieved during their time in that role.
From there, it is sart to have an ‘interests’ section that shows a softer side to the candidate. This is a good place to include any achievements and positions of authority in extracurricular activities or societies (for example, Captain of the hockey team, rather than just saying that they play hockey)
Extracurricular activities are also useful for showing that the candidate has gone out of their way to get involved in outside interests. For example, if a candidate has run a marathon, it’s important that they highlight that in their CV and relate it to other qualities such as the motivation and determination it took to complete the race.
Communication, organisation, ability to work under pressure, teamwork and flexibility are traits that any employer would be thrilled to see in potential candidates. These traits are incredibly beneficial for thriving in a workplace environment.Julia Patience Business Manager, Interim, Temporary & Contract
What are the most important factors when deciding which field graduates should be striving towards?
Not everyone knows what they want to do as soon as they graduate and that’s completely normal. A good way to start to work out that process is for them to look at the long-term picture of what they want from a job.
It’s important for candidates to reflect on how they want their work-life balance to look; whether they are motivated by job satisfaction, financial rewards or both; or deciding on what kind of team or corporate culture best suits their personality and ambitions. By self-analysing and investigating these points further, a graduate should find it far easier to whittle down the right industry for them.
What are the biggest red flags that can turn off employers?
There are a fair few of these. Applying for every job that is available is a big turn off for employers, it gives off the impression that the candidate is just desperate for any type of job, regardless of what it is.
Not being responsive or respectful to a potential employer is obviously a no-no. That includes making sure to answer and return calls as well as being polite when turning down a job.
Spelling mistakes in a candidate’s CV or naming the wrong employer in a covering email is another big no - it’s important to demonstrate that time has been spent on these important documents and making such a basic error can ruin their chances of being appointed.
Going into an interview unprepared is also a big red flag. It shows a lack of care and desire to secure the job in question, so we always recommend a candidate spends plenty of time prepping for a big interview.
It’s also vital that candidates are professional throughout the recruitment process. As mentioned before, professional social media accounts can make a huge difference. Employers will not be impressed when a candidate is informal, uses poor grammar or is unprofessional throughout email correspondence - so it’s important to constantly check everything before it’s sent to a potential employer.
Fortunately, these are all factors a good recruiter can help coach a graduate through and guide them every step of the way.
To find out more about graduate job opportunities visit: https://core-asset.co.uk/vacancies/