Graduating this summer and not got a job yet? Don’t panic!

 

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Graduating this summer and not got a job yet? Don’t panic!

 

The study and exams are finally over, and you are now thinking about your next steps. Whether that is postgraduate study, or a move into the jobs market, you know it is time to focus on the future.

Here are our top reasons you shouldn’t worry about not having a job lined up by graduation day.

  1. You have time to focus now

By waiting until after you finish to secure that job of your dreams you are now able to put proper energy into your job quest. Finding the right opportunities, crafting your applications and attending interviews all take time. Time you now have to focus on your job search.

  1. Graduate jobs are available all year round

The big ‘grad schemes’ may recruit each autumn for starts the following year – but the majority of employers recruit when a vacancy arises, and that can be at any time!

Just look at www.gradsouthwest.com to see jobs for recent graduates in the South West available right now!

  1. Many employers want immediate starts

Applying now that you are available for work, and being ready to start straight away is a positive for employers. They don’t have to wait on you finishing your studies.

  1. Get experience and test out ideas

If you’re not sure what to do, this time once you have finished your exams is perfect to explore your options: spend time volunteering; do part-time / temporary work in different fields or sectors; travel; learn what you want to do; and gain valuable experience to boost your CV. And then when you are ready to apply for positions on your chosen career path you will have the focus you need to secure your ideal role. (Don’t forget you can always change your mind… people have multiple portfolio careers nowadays!)

  1. Need a few pointers?

Have a look at our CV and covering letter advice to get you going!

 

Dr Deborah Watson

Director, Gradsouthwest

It’s Over! What you can learn from Candice and the Great British Bake Off…

Can Candice bake like Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood? Does she get it right every time? Does she stop being ambitious (remember that peacock)? Does she give up when it all goes wrong?

It’s a resounding ‘no’ to to all of the above. It’s why we love her. And why, if you can emulate her approach, recruiters will love you too.

So, what can you learn from GBBO winner Candice? Here’s our take….

#1        Respect experience

Candice is an outstanding baker. But she can’t trump Mary and Paul. At least not yet. You can be excellent – and still have room for improvement. Know this at every stage of your career, and more importantly, show you know it.

#2        Take feedback

Honest feedback can hurt.  It doesn’t mean you’re not brilliant. It just means that, if you listen and learn, you can be more brilliant. Listen, hear, take notes and be gracious.  Cry later if you need to – but do take it on board and act on it.

#3        Go for it

If we could tell you just one thing, it would be to GO FOR IT. When Candice applied to GBBO, she didn’t think she’d win. She had no idea of the standard required and the competition she would face but she applied anyway. You should do the same. See a job you like the look of? APPLY. Most people won’t – they’ll focus on the things required that they don’t have. If you can meet most (not all – that’s an ‘ideal’) of the criteria – and show willing – you stand a really good chance. Be brave. Be bold. Go for it.

We wish you luck. And if you need inspiration for your graduate career, head over to Gradsouthwest.com for lots of SW graduate jobs with companies that value graduate skills.

Charlotte Weston

Charlotte is a graduate with many years’ experience in both large and small organisations. She now works as a consultant to a range of SMEs across the south west and is a Non-Executive Director of Gradsouthwest.

Avoid the #1 Graduate CV Error

We see a lot of CVs. And we know it’s really hard to make sure they’re perfect. But there’s one area where we see lots of graduates shooting themselves in the foot; attention to detail.

Attention to detail is important. Recruiters like it. But if you’re going to claim you have it, you’d better be sure that your CV is absolutely perfect – and that’s not easy. Even when you’ve spent hours on it and checked it the requisite a million and one times.

The problem is clear. As soon as you claim you have attention to detail, anyone reading your CV will immediately be looking for evidence or counter evidence.

Here’s an example of where things go badly wrong – an amalgamation of the most common errors we’ve seen in CVs lately. How many errors can you find?

errors

So, what to do?

Well firstly, do you really need to include ‘attention to detail’? It’s not generally a skill prioritised for graduates so maybe you should use the space to give evidence of something else. Creativity? Initiative? Teamwork? Ability to learn?

And if you must include it, can you get three people to check your CV first? Don’t just ask them to read it but ask them to find  five mistakes in it. Even better, take your CV to your university careers service to give it the once over.

Few skills as attention to detail are so easily debunked. And, when they are it makes recruiters sceptical about the other skills you list. So exercise caution – or extreme proof reading and checking – before you claim Attention 2 detailed.

Do you see what we did there? Recruiters certainly will…..

Charlotte Weston

Charlotte is a graduate with many years’ experience in both large and small organisations. She now works as a consultant to a range of SMEs across the south west and is a Non-Executive Director of Gradsouthwest.

Graduates very much in demand – CBI survey

The 2016 CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey “The Right Combination” was published yesterday, and makes excellent reading for graduates as demand from employers for their higher level skills continues and is projected to rise in the coming years. As for employers, they have high levels of satisfaction with their graduate recruits and know just how critical the right skills are when someone enters the workforce – however there are concerns over the numbers of graduates available to meet high-skills gaps.

The survey, conducted across the UK during April-May 2016, received nearly 500 responses from employers of all sizes (51% SMEs) accounting for the employment of more than 3.2million people. Over 40% of respondents had some staff in the South West.  Below we provide the headline messages from the report for you.

Key messages for graduates and graduate recruiters:

Demand for higher skills is rising fast

  • More than three quarters of businesses (77%) expect to have more job openings for people with higher-level skills over the coming years while just 3% expect to have fewer.
  • The proportion of businesses not confident there will be enough people available in the future with the skills to fill their high-skilled jobs has reached a new high (69%).
  • More than four in five businesses (84%) will be maintaining or increasing their investment in training in the year ahead.
  • Fewer than one in ten businesses (9%) has cut back on graduate recruitment in the past year while 29% increased their graduate intakes, giving a positive balance of +20% increasing graduate recruitment. This represents a further expansion in graduate jobs, following positive balances of increased graduate intakes of +13% in 2015 and +18% in 2014.

Ensuring graduates have the skills for successful careers

  • Businesses look first and foremost for graduates with the right attitudes and aptitudes to enable them to be effective in the workplace – nearly nine in ten employers (87%) rank these in their top considerations, far above factors such as the university attended (13%).
  • For nearly two thirds of businesses the degree subject studied is also among the top three considerations (cited by 65%), particularly in sectors such as manufacturing and among engineering, science & hi-tech firms (86% and 83% respectively).
  • Many businesses are satisfied with graduates’ basic skills and general readiness for employment, with more than four in five firms reporting satisfaction or better with graduates numeracy (91%) and literacy skills (86%), and nearly the same proportion satisfied or better with graduates’ problem solving (79%) and communication skills (77%).

So the messages are pretty clear – demand for the higher-level skills that graduates bring to the workforce are very much in demand, and that demand is set to grow.

To delve into further details see the full report.

To recruit a recent graduate or to find a graduate job here in the South West go to: www.gradsouthwest.com

 

Dr Deborah Watson, Director, Gradsouthwest Ltd.

 

Science and technology students should take every opportunity to enhance their employment

We like this blog post from HEFCE, written by , Chair, Wakeham Review of STEM Degree Provision and Graduate Employability, so much we copy it here:

“Two independent reviews show that STEM graduates need to take up every opportunity available to them in their degree and during their time at university to help to improve their employability and to get a rewarding job.

I have spent the last year leading a review into the employment outcomes of STEM graduates following concerns over poor employment outcomes among graduates from certain STEM disciplines.

A parallel, more in-depth, review was led by Sir Nigel Shadbolt and looked into the reasons behind poor employment rates for graduates from Computer Sciences. My own review has looked across the whole of STEM. 

Both reviews have a clear message: engagement and collaboration between universities and colleges, and employers and industry to meet the future needs of both industry and the economy is really important.

But there are further, equally important, messages for the individuals at the centre of these reviews – the students, who become graduates and employees of the future.

It’s clear that students need to start engaging with their careers at the earliest opportunity. This does not mean that they need to decide upon their career with certainty early on, but they must make themselves aware of the wide range of options available to them.

They need to take up the opportunities to explore careers available either within their degree programme or outside of it. They need to improve their employability, and be prepared to upskill and adapt to a career that may span 50 years and a significant number of technological and industrial changes.

What should we expect of higher education and employers?

The review gathered evidence from an online survey, focus groups and in consultation with a range of representative bodies.

The voice of employers was plain enough. They wanted graduates who were, to all intents and purposes, ‘oven ready’, or able to walk into the workplace and hit the ground running.

They wanted, in other words, graduates who understood the principles and foundations within a particular discipline, but also an ability to apply those principles to the ‘real world’ and to apply them in a way that fitted with their employer.

Understandably, the universities, colleges and students who also took part in the research had a different view.

They acknowledged that higher education providers should work in participation with industry and help their students to access opportunities, such as experience through quality work placements. But they also raised the responsibilities of employers.

Evidence from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) points to decreasing investment by employers in formal training – with a slight fall in the net number of total training days funded or arranged by UK employers between 2011 and 2013.

So are the expectations of employers unrealistic and what are the key messages for students in this mixed, often contradictory, body of evidence?

Experience matters

The headline statistics show that STEM graduates who completed a sandwich course have markedly better outcomes than those graduates who did not.

Similarly, those who completed an integrated Master’s degree programme have very impressive employment outcomes.

So the evidence suggests strongly that work experience matters. Students should take every opportunity to develop their experience of the work place.

Universities and colleges have a responsibility here to help their students access placements. Employers of all sizes also need to offer students more quality placements of varying lengths and formats.

But the teaching methods which form part of the curriculum can also help to develop those skills so valued by employers – such as team work and communication.

Students therefore need to understand and embrace the opportunities to work with their peers in group projects, or by presenting and communicating their work to representatives from industry or their fellow students.

Continuing professional development

Second, students need to commit to upskilling and continuing their professional development throughout their career.

Higher education providers need to make sure degree programmes are equipping their students with the tools to do this, but graduates should enter the jobs market with the expectation that their degree may only get them to a certain point.

For many STEM graduates, postgraduate qualifications are required to enter a range of some of the most rewarding roles. And employers here need to accept responsibility for training their employees, so that they can apply their vital knowledge to the benefit of their business and to the wider UK economy.

Finally, they need to give genuine time, effort and interest to opportunities to learn more about STEM careers – this might involve taking a non-credit bearing careers-related module at university.

The review has found that the reasons for the employment outcomes of some STEM graduates is more complicated than one headline statistic about what graduates are doing six months after they leave university might suggest.

Still, it has also found that there is a role and responsibility for students themselves in addressing some of the broader issues that the review has highlighted.”

If you want to see the original go to: http://blog.hefce.ac.uk/2016/05/17/science-and-technology-students-should-take-every-opportunity-to-enhance-their-employment/

 

 

 

New Partnership to Serve West Country Businesses

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Gradsouthwest, the South West’s graduate jobs board, has announced a new partnership with Business West, the leading provider of business support services in the South West.

The new partnership will provide local businesses with a quality service to access an unlimited pool of graduate talent. To celebrate this new partnership, recruiters in the West of England are invited to take advantage of a special 10% discount using code BW012016 until the end of July with Gradsouthwest.

The partnership is a fitting way to mark Gradsouthwest’s first anniversary as a private company. Founded in 2001 by university careers departments, the service is now managed by the former staff team who are passionate about the value graduates bring to the local economy.

Retaining strong campus links, Gradsouthwest attracts candidates from a wide range of universities and disciplines who share a desire to work in the South West.

Commenting on the partnership, Dr Deborah Watson, Director of Gradsouthwest, said:

“We are delighted to be working with Business West and to feature as one of their impressive suite of business solutions. As a small business ourselves, we recognise just how critical high quality business support can be, and welcome the opportunity to assist other businesses in accessing talent to drive innovation and growth.”

Phil Smith, Managing Director of Business West, said:

“Gradsouthwest has an excellent reputation and is led by an experienced and passionate team. Youth unemployment remains a barrier to long term economic growth, and businesses tell us that the skills gap is hurting them day in day out. This platform addresses this issue by linking our young talent with businesses of all sectors and sizes. I am pleased to welcome them to our extensive network of partners.”

To find out more about Gradsouthwest, visit www.gradsouthwest.com , or contact the Business West Skills Team via  skills@businesswest.co.uk

Just Jobs. Fabulous Graduate Jobs.

Because sometimes we just want to cut to the chase and show you what we do best….

Head on over to www.gradsouthwest.com to check out these beauties.

Latest jobs

Look into a crystal ball…

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…or use the Working Futures 2014-24 report just launched by the UK Commission on Employment and Skills (UCES) to assess the future shape of the UK labour market.

UCES forecast that the overall number of jobs in the UK will rise by around 1.8 million between 2014 and 2024, and that the majority of these additional jobs will be taken by women.

So which sectors are due to grow?

  • private services are set to grow, and be the main engine for employment growth, with business and other service activities such as professional services and information technology seeing the strongest rates of jobs growth;
  • manufacturing is expected to increase productivity, increase skills needs, but reduce in terms of overall numbers of jobs;
  • construction is forecast to rebound producing strong employment and output growth;
  • health & social care is to see large numbers of additional jobs; and
  • any growth in education and public administration is expected to be muted, at least in the early years of the period.
As for qualifications:
  • projections show a continued shift towards more higher level qualifications, with an estimated 54% of jobs at level 4 or above – that’s foundation degree level or higher by 2024.
  • Average qualification levels are also due to rise within all occupations.

So with increasing numbers of jobs, many at higher skills levels, it is looking likely that the graduate job market will continue to grow over the coming years.

If you want to read the detail go to: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/uk-labour-market-projections-2014-to-2024

 

Dr Deborah Watson, Director Gradsouthwest Ltd.

 

Interview Tips

There are a few useful things to remember about interviews.

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Firstly, an interview is a two way process.  It is an opportunity for the candidate to see if they think they would fit in the role and organisation, as well as the organisation testing the candidate’s fit for the role.

You need to plan for your interview – take time to prepare:

  • be familiar with the job description, person specification, and your own application – make sure you remember why you said you would be perfect for the role in your covering letter!
  • if you’ve been asked to do a task, e.g. a presentation – prepare it, and have a fall back for if the technology lets you down.  If you are asked for a 5 minute presentation, make it 5 minutes!
  • think about likely questions and your answers to them – “Why do you want the job?”, “What are your key strengths?”, “Why did you leave your last job?”, “Where do you want to be in 5 years?”
  • think about questions you would like to ask the employer – “What opportunities are there for training and progression?”, “How do you see the role developing?”

First impressions count.  Turn up at the right place, and be on time (practically plan to be early!)  If you are going to be late – let them know!  Be appropriately dressed – research the organisation to get a feel for what appropriate is – and be a bit smarter than the average employee.  Display confidence, and be polite and friendly to all the staff you meet.  Make eye contact, and shake hands when offered.

Once the interview has started take your lead from the interviewer(s) – hopefully you will establish a rapport and the interview will flow with both sides able to ask questions. Remember:

  • listen carefully to questions and clarify if you are unsure.
  • answer the question, but try not to wander too far off topic.
  • be confident and enthusiastic.
  • be clear in what you say.
  • keep your body language in mind – don’t fidget, fiddle, look aggressive, look too relaxed or disinterested – remain more neutral.
  • keep good eye contact with all interviewers if there is more than one.
  • put a positive spin on past challenges – e.g. don’t be overly negative about past employers.

As the interview concludes, remember to:

  • ask what the next steps are in the process, and when you are likely to hear the outcome.
  • restate your desire for the role.
  • thank the interviewer(s) for seeing you.

Reflect on the process:

  • what were your impressions of the organisation and people you met?
  • what about the role?  Does it meet your expectations now and as a career choice?
  • what could you have done better at the interview?

And finally, the waiting is over, and you are notified of the outcome:

  • you are through to the next stage – either another interview or some further assessment activities – so again prepare as above.
  • you are offered the role – you may have to negotiate salary, hours, start date etc. so be prepared to do so.
  • you are not offered the position – ask for feedback as to why: how could you improve on your application and interview performance; are there shortfalls in your experience or skills you could work on? By being proactive here the interviewer might well consider you for future roles or refer you to others as you are demonstrating a willingness to learn and improve!

For more top tips go to: http://www.gradsouthwest.com/careers-advice/

 

Dr Deborah Watson, Director, Gradsouthwest Ltd.

https://uk.linkedin.com/in/deborahwatson

 

It’s time to tidy up your online profile. We know. We’ve looked!

We’ve been conducting a little experiment. Every time one of you lovely graduates likes our Facebook page, we click on your profile. Not to be nosy you understand, but to gauge how savvy graduate job seekers are about privacy on social media.

Thoughtful businessman work on notebook while sitting at wooden

What have we learnt? Well, let’s just say you’re all having a cracking time out there!  Mostly we’re envious, occasionally we’re shocked and every now and then, we’re impressed. Impressed because we can’t see anything about you. Nothing. Zilch. Nada.

And with Facebook, that’s how it should be. It’s a social forum and while even serious graduate types are allowed to have fun, recruiters don’t need to see you dancing on tables, pouting in selfies or swapping risky anecdotes. They will look – probably before you even meet at interview – and you don’t want to lose out on a great job as a result.

So take these steps now to lock down your Facebook activities….

#1 Set your audience to ‘friends’. For everything.

The most obvious and yet the most overlooked step!

#2 Use your name wisely

Facebook probably has some rules about this so we’re not suggesting you adopt a false identity or anything but you could do away with your surname and just use your first and middle names. Or use a shortened version of your first name whilst using the full version for job applications. Or an initial for your first name or surname. You get the picture. Anything which makes it harder for complete strangers to find you but is still recognisable to your family and friends.

#3 Guard your timeline

You might be really careful what you post but what about your mates? We all have at least one friend who has form in dropping us in it. You can keep this in check by changing your ‘Timeline & Tagging’ settings so that all posts to your page have to be approved by you first.

#4 Limit the audience for your old posts

In Privacy Settings & Tools, you can limit the audience for your past posts. Handy if you haven’t always had recruiters in mind when posting….

#5 Don’t allow search engines to link to your timeline

In Privacy Settings & Tools, select ‘no’ for ‘do you want other search engines to link to your timeline?’ Far better that your LinkedIn profile takes centre stage online.

#6 Remember that old cover photos remain public

Even if you lock down your page, anyone can see your cover photos – going back a long way. Time to get into the habit of using innocuous images. A beautiful landscape from your holiday snaps isn’t going to offend anyone.

#7 Go undercover

Facebook has a handy option to view your profile as others would. Once you’re happy with your settings, go undercover by clicking on the 3 dots icon at the bottom of your cover photo to double check all is as it should be.

Now this isn’t an exhaustive list for Facebook. You do, of course, have to be aware of a whole raft of security measures to protect your online privacy. For a complete checklist, FaceCrooks is a good starting point.

Time invested now in tidying up your settings will be well worth it when you come to apply for jobs. But please, don’t stop having fun – just be more discreet online so that we don’t feel quite so envious.

Charlotte Weston

Charlotte is a graduate with many years’ experience in both large and small organisations. She now works as a consultant to a range of SMEs across the south west and is a Non-Executive Director of Gradsouthwest.