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A recent article from the Institutre of Education makes the well covered point that the UK economy requires individuals with high levels of skills and this should bode well for graduates and their future employment. However this assumes that graduates are by definition ‘highly skilled’. This for some if just not the case, whereas for others it is. However in my experience for the most they have good skills but either don’t know what they are, how to articulate or demonstrate them.
So rather than spending time convincing both graduates and Higher Education that all is well for the future and in so doing sending our a very dangerous message that just by being a graduate you will be in demand, much more needs to be done at a practical level making studnets aware of the different skills they have gained through their time at University and how they can they then successfully demonstrate them to employers who want to see them!
Piecemeal activity carried out in a fractured way across different Universities just is not good enough and unless something co-ordinated and engaging is done sooner rather than later, potential graduates will not just question if Higher Education is worthwhile, they will just not go at all.
An recent article in the Sunday Times talked about a relatively small organisation that successfully (87% more applications) used rubber ducks in their marketing to students and it proves a number of key points when it comes to attracting students.
1. You need to be innovative
2. You do not have to spend alot of money
3. Simple is good
4. You need to get on campus and engage with students directly
5. Be upfront about who and what you are – i.e. if you are a smaller company go on the offensive about it and ‘sell’ why ‘small is beautiful’
6. Have fun doing what you do!
Analyising some recent data and stats my orgnaisation uncovered some scary information for all the internet job boards and soem great news for the Universities and that is job boards cost a huge amount of money and the cost per hire (unless you are a volume recruiter) is not pretty. Whereas on campus activity deleivers a far better return (when well managed).
The question/challenge I want to lay down is which graduate recruiter is brave enough to dump all their job board activity and focus instead on activity on campus – working directly with students.
There is another benefit of doing this and that is considerably less time spent wading through piles of Cvs of which, if they have come from job borads, most will be rejected at the first stage.
It will require real guts to make this decision – the job boards won’t like it and nor will the media agencies but then I would say to them the challenge with any organisation (mine included!) is to keep evolving and make sure you are offering a service that works.
But back to the graduate recruiters themselves…who is brave enough & who dares to be different?!
Having set about organising a national student conference for Bright Futures, where students can network with major graduate recruiters and build their skills AND where their travel expenses, accomodation and food are all paid for, and yet still we struggle to get all of them involved or having committed some then drop out, has caused me much frustration and many sleepless nights.
Once my initial frustration subsided I started thinking about why we could not secure the consistent commitment of all those who showed initial interest? And my deductions were that however relevant or important you think or believe something is and / or indeed the stduents themselves know it is – if the timing is not right then they won’t do it – not because they are not interested but they, understandably, have different priorities at different times. In our case, their career cannot always be their number one priority to them, even if it is for us!
So what’s the answer? The truth is I don’t know for certain but perhaps it lies in understanding that if you want to help others (in this case students) don’t expect them to take it however that help comes just because it is ‘help’ – that help still has to be right for them and that includes the timing of delivering the events and actvities.
Whether services or help come at a charge or are free, when that help is offered matters and not everyone will change their schedules.
Rant over and it helped me deal with my frustration! Thanks to my blog!!
After 3 years of work the report came back last year from the Burgess Group that the degree classification system would stay largely the same but with the addition of a HEAR – Higher Education Acheivement Record – to give a fuller view of each graduate and their time at University. This HEAR sounds to me like more paperwork for the academics, which being ordinary people, they will want to find ways to get it completed as fast as possible or find ways to avoid doing it directly themselves.
A great alternative idea I read about today (suggested by Prof Mantz Yorke) talks about ‘acheivement claims’ where essentailly the students do the work themselves making a claim for their degree classification by presenting why they feel they have satisfied the aims of their course. Thus putting the student in much more control of the process and getting them, very importantly, to reflect on what they have learned from all their time at University and it’s value. This skills of ‘reflection’ will stand them in great stead for their job hunting as they will be able to much more strongly articulate what they as an individual have to offer (that is different) rather than expecting a 2.1 to do all the talking for them.
Sadly I fear like too many great ideas little will come of it but I know I will introduce this to our assessment of graduates and perhaps from little acorns…..
Helping companies secure the best-suited graduate talent is one half of what I am all about. The other half is about enabling students and graduates to secure the best possible career.
Having spent fifteen years in this business I’ve seen a lot and done a lot. Not everything went as successfully as planned in the early stages but I learnt plenty along the way. I’ve met some great people, amassed a huge amount of knowledge and developed methods that consistently deliver results.
This blog is about sharing what I know to benefit employers (whatever their size), students and graduates (whatever their background). I understand what employers are looking for and I know what students and graduates want. If my blog can help bring the two camps closer together, and enable them to get it right more often, then I will have succeeded!
I will be commenting on issues reported in the press; what I hear from the companies I meet, plus the students and graduates I talk to. I will be honest, direct, and at times blunt; but I believe in telling it how I see it!
So enjoy! By the way, please don’t be shy; let me know what you think and also what you’d like me to write about.
I look forward to hearing from you…