This summer we’ve noticed the graduate recruitment market has been particularly competitive. There isn’t necessarily a lack of graduate jobs but employers are being increasingly specific about what they want from recent graduates.
We’ve noticed an increasing trend in employers who say to us they want candidates with experience beyond university, who show drive, integrity and good people skills. For the employers, these traits are just as important as a degree – they demonstrate that a graduate will be eager to learn, keen to work and, generally, a great addition to their team.
According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, almost one in four students who gained a degree in 2016 graduated with a first. With more graduates boasting top academic accolades, employers are turning to soft skills to differentiate between candidates.
So what can current students and graduates do to make sure they stand out from the crowd?
1. Look beyond studying to show qualities like leadership and good communication skills. Whilst at university take advantage of societies and volunteer opportunities to build your skill set. For example, could you project manage a volunteer activity at university? Or help run some marketing to promote a student event? Even without taking into account any specialist skills you may build from participating, you’ll automatically be showing employers that you have good time management and the ability to work with others.
2. Secure credible work experience too. This doesn’t necessarily have to be in the same industry as where you want to work (although that is an advantage) but it could just be a way for you to explore different work environments. As Emma’s previous blog explains, work experience can also be a great way of saving some money, helping your studies, learning from others and testing out potential workplaces.
3. When it comes to sending requests for work experience or, later down the line, applying for graduate jobs, make sure you fully research the company. Showing a good understanding of the company, its industry and the work they do will show drive and that you’ve taken the initiative to find out more.
4. Take feedback on board. Everyone has ups and downs during a job search. When you’re searching for your first post-university job, you might experience some knockbacks but these are equally opportunities for you to learn from. As a recent graduate said to us following on from interview feedback: “I will ensure I use the feedback which I have received to improve myself and be better prepared for any roles/assessment centres which may pop up in the future.”
This sort of approach to your job search will help you to go from strength-to-strength, fine-tuning your search until you land the job that’s right for you.
If you want to make sure you’re embarking on your graduate job search in the right way, find out more about our enhanced graduate recruitment service, and if you have any advice of your own for recent graduates please do leave a comment below.