How Search increases graduate work experience
With the increasingly competitive nature of the recruitment industry, it may seem far more challenging for graduates to land the job of their dreams. Without the old-school personal touch of meeting an employer directly for a face-to-face interview to showcase your industry knowledge and sparkling personality, combined with the increasing demand for experience along with qualifications, many aspiring young professionals entering the job market may feel stumped on how to make their application stand out from the rest. We investigate the concerns of young job-seekers today, and highlight the ways in which Search Consultancy is helping to simplify what could otherwise be a complex, time-consuming and potentially disappointing career pursuit.
Addressing the concerns of graduates
According to a recent survey originally published in bussinessreporter.co.uk, 16- to 24-year-olds found that their biggest challenge was trying to obtain a job interview, and how to ‘stand out’ from other jobseekers. Almost two out of five of the 4,100 people polled said they would value more relevant work experience, while others wanted help with their CV and preparing for an interview.
It can be tricky trying to get a job based on your merit, particularly when you have limited career experience. Studies also reveal that employers will spend an average of only 60 seconds reading through a CV, so finding ways to differentiate and enhance your offering without guidance from a professional, can be particularly challenging.
Universities need to do more to facilitate job experience
According to a survey by Real Prospects, graduates felt that universities should be doing more to facilitate career experience among students. In identifying opportunities on campus, graduates described the level in which universities were facilitating job experience:
- Work experience within the university: Graduates felt that universities often neglected to promote how the institutions themselves are graduate employers, and thought that students should be encouraged to take advantage of this when they are looking to gain experience of graduate jobs. Universities could consider recruiting students to work within various departments on campus. Departments could also remind lecturers and researchers that students might be interested in providing administrative support for their research projects, helping them recruit participants or monitoring their lab work. If the university can’t offer students work experience, perhaps they could offer them the opportunity to shadow a member of staff for a day instead.
- Student-run organisations: Universities offer plenty of on-campus activities, but students don’t always realise that these activities offer opportunities for work experience. For example, students don’t need to write articles to contribute to a student newspaper, they could volunteer to proof the copy, provide administrative support, manage the finances, try to persuade local businesses to place adverts, organise a marketing campaign, design a survey asking the student population what they would like the paper to investigate or conduct some research into what students think about a particular issue. Student societies and campus services such as nightline or university radio stations give students opportunities to gain experience of managing projects, organising events, working with colleagues and balancing the books, but students won’t take advantage of these opportunities until their university reminds them that they exist.
- Opportunities to be entrepreneurial: Many Real Prospects graduates had struggled to find practical ways of gaining the project management experience that employers look for when they are filling graduate positions. Encouraging students to set up and manage their own extra-curricular projects is a great way of reminding students that they can gain practical experience of project management (and entrepreneurship) within the relatively safe environment of the university campus. Managing their own extra-curricular projects gives students a great opportunity to develop their organisation, management, marketing, team-working and leadership skills, but many wouldn’t know where to start. They need universities to take the lead by making practical suggestions as to what they could do and how they could do it.
- Enterprise challenges: Graduates who had participated in their university’s enterprise challenge were extremely positive about these initiatives. Enterprise challenges are designed to encourage budding entrepreneurs to begin the process of setting up their own business. Universities help students to put together a business proposal (by giving them a business mentor, providing them with opportunities to practice ‘pitching’ their business to a panel etc), which they then enter into a competition. The bids are assessed by a panel of experts and the winning business proposal is usually awarded a cash prize.
- Encourage students to organise their own careers events: Some Real Prospects respondents were involved in student societies which put on their own careers events. Some linked up with graduate recruiters and arranged formal dinners with graduate employers and sessions on commercial awareness, while others invited local business people in to talk to the students in their department. Careers services often lack the resources to run all the events they would like to, so encouraging students to organise their own careers events can be a really useful way of getting students to engage with careers information while also providing them with an opportunity to gain some experience
How Search Consultancy can help you get job experience
Calling on a recruitment agency to guide and assist you in you in building a career experience portfolio is also a great start on the road toward finding employment after graduation. Andrew Odeon, temp chef sourced by Search and student at Manchester Metropolitan University, believes that working temp jobs is an ideal way for students to obtain career experience whilst maintaining flexibility to pursue their academic goals. “For me personally, temping through Search has really been positive because it accommodates my availability. As a student it’s been the best type of work, because it is just so flexible, and flexibility is vital when you’re pursuing a degree,” he says.
Not only will working with a temp recruiter increase your level of experience, but it will also equip you with personal qualities that attract prospective employers. “Temping with Search will definitely help students build up their experience and confidence, which are two qualities that many employers look for,” Andrew observes. Furthermore, you will be able to develop more then just the surface qualities that make you appealing, you will also be able to fortify your skills. “You are given the opportunity to learn interchangeable skills, such as project management, teamwork and communication that can be applied to a variety of career roles. Regardless of the industry providing temp work opportunities, these organisations offer an excellent source of experience and exposure to a variety of different industries, giving you the opportunity to network as well,” he adds.
Students will also gain new insight into a wide range of personalities, organisations and industries. “As a temp chef, I have learned a lot simply by working in different kitchens, with a wide range of top quality chefs, and it’s given me the confidence to walk into any kitchen and be able to quickly learn a menu, and learn to work and develop a sense of camaraderie within a team,” Andrew concludes.
While job hunting may seem tedious at times, it’s important to get an early start in investing towards constructing a career portfolio that will attract potential employers. The good news is that, as mentioned above, there certainly are avenues whereby students and graduates can obtain career experience that will assist them in the future career endeavours.
Looking for a temp job?
Search is committed to providing the best possible experience for job seekers, regardless of the level or role or industry. Search places people from trainee positions through to board level across most industry sectors. From interview preparation to CV tips, our knowledgeable and supportive consultants will help you along your journey to land that dream job. If you are looking to get job experience while you pursue your academic endeavours, contact your nearest Search location.
About our candidate
Andrew Odeon is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Professional Musicianship – Guitar in Manchester Metropolitan University. When he’s not buried in books or keeping the neighbours awake by strumming up a musical storm with his bandmates, you can find him perfecting his culinary art in a wide range of kitchens across the city, including his own. When asked if he felt that temping through Search taught him any valuable skills to propel his career, he chuckled and replied, “Well, I can make pizza now." We at Search wish him all the best with his academic venture, and look forward to sampling a slice of pizza while we're at it!