What’s Happening In Graduate Recruitment?
The news that graduate recruitment is on the rise and more graduates are being taken into roles is absolutely fantastic. One of the main reasons for the shortage of qualified, experienced candidates at the moment has to be attributed to the lack of candidates recruited at graduate level over the last three years.
My main worry from this, though, is the lack of differentiation given to those that take on ‘Graduate Scheme’ roles and graduates who get ‘jobs’, and the entry level salary quoted. Of course, graduate schemes have often been the holy grail for final year students desperately sending off applications before Easter in the hope they can make the cut for these most sought-after roles. And fair play to them for getting those roles, it certainly isn’t easy.
Grad Schemes vs. Jobs
Let’s face it, the vast majority of us (myself included) didn’t make that cut. We went about trying to get our first ‘job’, that first step on the ladder. I had worked through uni holidays in office jobs and in retail for part time jobs from 16 upwards. But I had no real experience. My first job was a Resourcer for a growing recruitment agency on £10k. I’d ideally been looking for £15k but caved immediately with the thought of a ‘proper’ job and not having to move out of home! (My negotiating skills have improved since then!).
Now, it seems, recruiters are struggling more and more to source graduates. This seems to be an absolutely ridiculous situation, given the numbers leaving university every year. So why? Lack of experience is clearly a major factor. Many clients expecting a year’s relevant experience but very few candidates undertaking sandwich placements. The other part is the willingness of candidates to actually do the roles they’re applying for. Of course, we cannot and must not tar every graduate with the same brush; this is would be a gross generalisation. But for every positive graduate experience clients are having, there’s probably at least two which are negative.
A Word On Salaries
We are hearing real horror stories of a general apathy among first job seekers and hugely inflated salary requests. Some of them which hadn’t happened to us we did have a laugh about – mainly with incredulity! Applying for jobs and not bothering to attend the interviews because they hadn’t realised the impact of relocation, not doing any research, or even ignoring requests for presentations. But mainly because the salaries “aren’t paying enough money”.
If you’re a graduate reading this and you’ve had a conversation with me, we’ve probably already talked about this, but let’s make it clear. Unless you get on a graduate scheme, if you are what we call a ‘raw grad’ with a degree but little commercial experience, you’re not going to earn £28k. You’re probably also not going to earn £20k in marketing, PR, design, and digital in the Midlands. While there are always exceptions, pretty much the top limit you can expect is £18,000. And if its in-house marketing, you can still probably expect £16/17,000.
Experience will get you more money without a shadow of a doubt. I know you’ve got loans to pay off, and the field is definitely skewed towards those who return home after uni and don’t have to support themselves with massive rents, but this isn’t your future employer’s problem. Although I am, of course, massively sympathetic to those who find themselves in this situation.
So What Now?
Sitting in my ‘employed’ ivory tower and wearing my ‘it was all different in my day’ hat, the graduates we place are those that have realised that experience and attitude are the keys. Take a job, get the experience. It probably won’t be your forever job. But you can work for promotion, or look for something new after twelve months. You’ll probably be on more money than you expected, whilst those who wouldn’t get out of bed for less than £20k are probably still there.