In the news today – there are now 69 graduates chasing each job, up from 49 last year.
It really is tough, and partly this is due to there being far more graduates than companies actually need. Also, this year’s graduates are competing against those who graduated in the past couple of years.
Now you need a 2:1 to be even in with a shout for a graduate trainee scheme, but it is the work experience that counts, but you still need to ‘sell’ yourself via a great CV, cover letter, application and then at interview.
Don’t turn your nose up at non grad jobs, seek out anything that will help to enhance your CV. I gave good advice last summer, focused on parents for how to help their graduate children.
So options to consider are:
Their ideal job
There are still good jobs out there, but your son/daughter needs to be clear on what they want and why they match up well. In particular, jobs are still available in retail, engineering and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG). Companies know that employing graduates is a great investment.
Graduates should look online but also use other methods such as contacting companies direct, letting other people know what they are looking for and using fact finding interviews, internships and work experience to build contacts within a company, and enhance their applications.
They must also make sure that they research both the job and the company and ensure they have created the most effective application they can. That’s when some of the other options below can help.
When they apply for jobs they will find that many companies require extensive detail which they will need to input again and again.
Entry level job
Your son/daughter may not get their ideal job immediately, but there still may be another job that would be a great first step. Working in an entry level job lets them gain useful skills and also demonstrates that they are not a ‘lazy student’, but can get up and work each day.
They need to treat this as an interim step, not their end job. One way to make a difference is for them to use their intelligence and go beyond the way a typical person would work on the job. After the first few weeks, once they understand the way things are done, they may be able to make suggestions for improvement, demonstrate brilliant skills and more so they may be ‘discovered’. This can certainly lead to them being fast tracked onto a management trainee scheme or being offered a job more suited to their ambitions.
If your son/daughter has a great idea, they could consider creating their own job. Lots of companies were created in a recession including MTV and Wikipedia. Working for yourself is not an easy option but for some people it’s worth exploring. Could they use some of the skills they have? They can find out more about turning their business idea into a reality and the support available at www.flyingstartonline.com/makeithappen.
An internship is a way of gaining relevant experience, often through undertaking a specific project or broader experience. They can be either paid or unpaid and can often lead to a job offer. Companies such as Microsoft, Google and John Lewis provide opportunities for graduates. The Government is highlighting the internships available on the new Graduate Talent Pool website which offers a mix of paid and unpaid internships. Graduates can find out more about how to apply at www.direct.gov.uk/graduates .
Unpaid Options – to increase employability
Even unpaid internships can be extremely valuable. As with paid internships, they can lead to great experience to enhance your son/daughter’s CV and also can help them decide if they really do want to work in their chosen field. They give graduates the chance to showcase their skills and also help them decide if they’re following the right path. Deciding it is the wrong career is equally valuable.
Similar to internships, this is a less formal approach and usually lasts for just a week or two. Think about the work experience week they did when they were at school. This is similar but this time they set it up themselves. Graduates need to be wise and treat it like an internship, being clear on what they want to find out, and also what they can offer.
Your son/daughter can develop transferable skills through voluntary work, and there are hundreds of opportunities so they can choose something that really interests them and it might help them to get a job. For example, volunteering in a youth club is useful if they want to go into social work, and producing an organisations newsletter helps if they want to get into communications. It is good for their CV and good for the people they help too! See page 8 for more information about volunteering.
Travel, including TEFL
Travel abroad can be expensive, but investing in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) or Teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) qualifications means graduates can do paid work while overseas. So the investment of up to £1,000 will be worthwhile. Skills they can learn include communication, working with a range of people, and whilst teaching other people English, they also increase their knowledge of our language.
Post graduate study
If your son/daughter can’t get work, they may think that a post graduate qualification will boost their chances of getting into their ideal career, but it all depends on which career. It may be that work experience (paid or unpaid) is a better option. You also have to weigh up the costs involved (time and money) against the possible benefits. However, if your graduate has a plan in which post graduate study is a vital element, then it can be extremely worthwhile.
Short courses and self directed learning
Whilst your graduate waits until they are successful in their job search, they can undertake other activities to improve their employability and learn new skills, such as improving their IT skills and learning more about their subject of interest.