Graduate recruitment specialist Milkround has just published its Graduate Career Confidence Report. For me the highlight of the survey is that 71% of all respondents reported that their main concern about finding a graduate job is the level of competition.
Other main concerns were attributed to there being too few graduate jobs available, along with concerns surrounding a lack of relevant experience.
This does bring back memories for me! When I graduated almost 20 years ago to the day, when memories of the early 90s recession, 15% interest rates and Black Wednesday were still fresh, competition was at the forefront of my mind too. I wish someone had told me not to worry. Once I got myself a job working for a big brand US PC maker, I was shocked to find how little competition there was. There were plenty of people to compete with but I was surprised at how little effort my peers were prepared to exert to get on and progress. I found that most people were lazy, work-shy and indifferent to their career prospects, and were instead focused on their social lives and having a laugh. Climbing the career ladder was tough but easier than I had imagined thanks to the lack of competition.
In terms of concerns around experience, my perspective as a recruiter of young people is that they should get as much as they reasonably can. I don’t expect young people to have the appropriate experience in the job they’re applying for, but I do think it’s bad when they haven’t done much in their lives. I do interview people who have done their GCSEs and A Levels who have never had a Saturday job. When I ask them what they did all summer when they were 16 and 17 and the answer is ‘nothing’ or ‘had a rest’ I find that difficult to come back from. On the other hand if candidates have worked in shops, restaurants, pubs, clubs or call centres then I know they will have good experience of dealing with money, people, prioritising, work politics and work ethics, and this usually counts for quite a lot.