Graduate unemployment: what they don’t tell you at uni

Going to university is a great experience, writes graduate Racquelle Deku. You meet new people, you gain invaluable experience, you tackle obstacles you could never have imagined and you mature tremendously.

The graduation ceremony is one to remember. When your name is called and you walk across the stage to your family and loved ones calling your name, you feel overwhelmed at the pit of your stomach.

You hear the vice chancellor say, “Class of… today marks the start of your future. Congratulations!” You feel reassured you have made the right decision as you throw up your graduation hat to symbolise the end of your university experience.

People say your graduation day is one of the most important days of your life. What people tend not to emphasise is the daunting reality of graduate unemployment.

Graduate unemployment doesn’t discriminate

There is a preconceived notion that unemployment only affects the working class and only occurs to individuals in deprived areas. Well, here’s a surprise, it doesn’t! Studies shows that approximately a fifth of university leavers are unemployed or in low-paid jobs six months after leaving university.

You may think the fact that you have undertaken and tackled numerous challenges at university will guarantee you a graduate job. Right? But then your inbox is over flowing with lots with rejection messages. You see words like, ‘unfortunately’ and ‘unsuccessful’ every time you open up your email. It makes you feel like you’re not suitable for any organisation.

Then you are surrounded by friends and family who are constantly asking or suggesting one of the following:

  1. Have you found a job yet?
  2. How’s the job search going?
  3. Have you tried recruiters?
  4. Don’t worry you will find something
  5. I’ll ask around for you

Okay, it is inevitable, and they just want to reassure you that you’ll find the right job. However, what they fail to understand is how competitive it is and how patronising they can sound.

The job application process

And let me introduce you to the famous application process! This is what I describe as the 6 common issues of unemployment:

  1. Pressure to apply for as many jobs as possible and not knowing exactly what to apply for. After applying you’re constantly checking your phone and emails to see the status of your application.
  1. Telephone interviews that have caught you unaware; you find yourself stuttering and forgetting important information.
  1. Your inbox filled with rejection messages and negative feedback leading you to depression. You then become overly sensitive and have senseless arguments with everyone around you.
  1. Recruiters selling you false hope and wasting your time, while you struggle with not having enough money to go to the interviews.
  1. Seeing everyone around you getting jobs and you’re just dying to update your LinkedIn profile with a new job title.
  1. Then you get nervous when the start of a new day, week or new month approaches and you’re still stuck in the same position.

Some of you may be able to relate and some of you may just think this is just an exaggeration. But these are the harsh realities that many graduates face in the unemployment epidemic.

If you find yourself being unemployed after uni check out this post.

What to do while looking for a graduate job

Ultimately you’re faced one of two options: either giving up or being persistent. My advice if you are in that position is to remember not to lose hope. Make sure you keep yourself preoccupied and reflective in the process.

  1. Self-awareness – Spend some time getting to know yourself better. Whether it means going for walks alone or learning something new. It’s also important to make a list of things you like, don’t like and what you want gain from life or a job position.
  2. Fitness – For example go to the gym or go for jogs; it helps you deal with your frustration and keeps you mentally and physically fit.
  3. Recruitment – Sign up to as many relevant recruiters as you can. It’s important to get yourself out there and you never know where it might lead you. But make sure you do your research on the recruiters to check their reliability.
  4. Progress – Keep a general journal of your weekly progress. It’s a good way to see how far you’ve come, and you never know when your story could help or inspire someone.
  5. Word of mouth – Ask family and friends how they got their jobs because you could pick up one or two tips.
  6. Reflect – Be reflective and self-critical so you know what to improve on.
  7. Determination – Last but not least, don’t give up! Stop comparing yourself to others. You have achieved too much to just give up.

Good luck in your job hunt. For help and coaching, talk to Graduate Coach.

Why it’s all about employability ratings

If half of the people who bought your product or service rated it as poor value for money wouldn’t you be worried? I would. Yet that’s the position of many universities as they come under increasing pressure to do more to help their students find a job after graduating.

While it isn’t the responsibility of a university to find their graduates a job, employability outcomes do influence how institutions are seen – after all, improving future job prospects / pursuing a specific vocation is the number one reason students give for going to university. According to the latest Which? University report (‘A degree of value: value for money from the student perspective’), just over half – 52% – of students who thought their university experience was poor value for money, cited reasons as ‘not enough support to find a good job’. In other words 48% wouldn’t recommend their university to a friend.

For graduates, it’s all about employability

In contrast, graduates doing a vocational degree where they have to study a specific subject to get the job they want are more likely to rate their experience higher. In this case the figure is 72% so clearly graduates feel better about their university experience when their career prospects or job outcome is higher.

Clearly, if universities where measured against unsatisfactory ratings given to other branded products then we would likely see half of them going out of business over night. Take the erstwhile positioned Tesco. Reports of consumers disillusioned by service, price and quality and rating it behind all other rivals (including Aldi and Lidl) is underpinned by a £250m shortfall in profits. Mike Tattersall, who conducted the research, said it is ‘sobering’.

It’s certainly time for universities to sober up because employability is going to become even more critical with coming reforms, which will likely see a further increase in fees. Universities will be under even greater pressure to demonstrate that they are ‘fit for purpose’, suggests the Which? report, or it could cost them dearly in terms of enrolments, ratings and funding.

The problem facing university careers services

As we said, it may not be the responsibility of universities to find graduates a job but it is certainly in their best interests to do all they can to help, especially in this climate when competition for jobs is at all levels. However, one of the challenges facing universities has to do with the way careers advice is currently structured. Students need huge amounts of help as to what careers and jobs would be suitable for them and this is impossible for a university careers service to effectively offer on a one on one basis.

The typical university may have 25,000 students to about 25 career advisors – that’s 1000/1. It is no wonder then, as the High Fliers research showed, that 75% to 85% never visit their careers centre. Students simply don’t feel they are getting the advice they need and university careers advisors lack the resources required to dig beneath the surface to find out about a student’s skills, motivations and so forth.

A solution for increasing employability outcomes

Universities need to change the way they offer careers advice. The first step they need to take is to put in place an employability plan. It should start from day one and run over the three years that a student is at university. It should list all the things you have to do in each of the three years and it must be delivered by technology and supplemented by one to one meetings.

Such an employability plan will help point graduates in the right direction without drawing heavily on a university’s limited resources.

It is worth stressing that graduates also have a role to play. It is their own responsibility to work to get a job but just as a university provides a graduate with a set of tools in terms lectures and resources to get the degree it must also provide a compete toolkit for how to get a job afterwards.

Note: If you are a graduate or university who wants to find out more about designing an employability plan contact Graduate Coach.

How to Ace Remote Job Interviews

In today’s job market, candidates are likely to face one of two types of remote job interviews. Employers and agencies use these remote interview methods to improve their recruitment process and lower costs. The two remote interview methods that you might be facing are the phone interview and the web chat video interview. In this post we will offer tips to help you successfully negotiate your remote job interview.

Acing Remote Job Interviews: Telephone Job Interview Tips

Many recruiters use telephone interviews as an early first stage of a job interview process. A telephone interview is an effective way for them to screen many candidates quickly and with the lowest overall expenditure of any type of interview. Here are our tips to help you ace the telephone interview.

Prepare Well Ahead of Time – Think of the phone interview as a face-to-face interview. Research the employer, the position and prepare notes. If you have questions, you will be given an opportunity to ask them. You’ll do well to prepare some questions.

Dress the Part – You might want to dress professionally, even though the interviewer won’t see you. Studies have shown that dressing the part helps your mind get into the right cognitive state for the challenge.

Choose a Device – Landlines often offer better quality of call vs. mobile and particularly vs. voice over IP phones (VoIP Internet based phones). If possible arrange the interview when you have access to a landline.

Pick a Suitable Area – The location of the interview is incredibly important. Choose a setting that is quiet, particularly in terms of background noise. Before the interview is meant to start, switch off your television, close the door and switch off your phone. The idea is to limit any interruption.

During the Interview – Try and keep your voice levels natural and relaxed. Raising your voice often makes it distorted rather than clear. Experiment with walking around. Walking around and allowing your hands to gesture in a natural way will help you to speak more confidentially and clearly.

Acing Remote Job Interviews: Web Chat Video Interview

More and more recruiters use video chat job interviews as first or second interviews, before or at times even replacing the face-to-face interview. It is growing in popularly due to improvements in Internet speed and availability of integrated webcams in smartphones, tablets and laptops. Here are our tips to help you ace the video chat interview.

Pick a Suitable Area – Similar to the telephone interview, choosing a quiet location is important. Further to this, you must think about the surroundings, particularly behind you. If you intend to take the interview at home, make sure the area behind and around you is fitting. In interior design this is called ‘staging’ whereby you go out of your way to stage the right settings for a temporary duration. You will also do well choosing an area well lit, preferably natural light.

Download, Install and Configure Well Ahead of Time – The interviewer is likely to ask you to download a particular video chat software before the interview commences. Do this well ahead of time as the process of downloading, installing and configuring might take some time. Certain apps such as Skype require you to have a user account, thereby making the process even slightly lengthier.

Dress the Part – Beyond the cognitive influence we have discussed before, the interviewer may see your entire person during the interview. Take no chances and dress head to toe.

Get Ready, Go – Get ready 10 min before the interview is meant to start. Use this time to close your other programs to avoid interruptions.

During the Interview – Try and make eye contact. Do this by looking at the webcam rather than the screen, your desk or window! If you can, drag the chat window nearer the webcam so when you look at the webcam, you are looking at interviewer. Be sure to have good posture when you sit and relax your shoulders to avoid stiffness.

Job luck in your job hunt. For help and coaching, talk to Graduate Coach.

Written by The Carling Partnership. They are an international search and selection company in the drinks and brewery jobs sectors. CPL (The Carling Partnership) works across different sectors from distilling to wine and beer.