The world is full of an awful lot of bad news stories at the moment for young people in the UK. Doomy stories appear every day with tales of woe about how there has never been a worse time to be a young person seeking employment in the UK. As an experienced recruiter of junior talent, and the Head of the Graduate, Apprentice and Placement Recruitment Team here at Capgemini, I’m not entirely convinced I agree with this. Often, if you look closely at the data upon which most of these “doom and gloom” tales are based, you’ll see that they reference reports based on data from a good few years back when things genuinely were absolutely dreadful for people at any stage in their careers seeking new roles, and genuinely, I think there are always great opportunities for people who can show passion and excitement for their chosen field.
The Telegraph: “Graduates face toughest job market since depths of recession”
The Guardian: “Britain’s economic recovery failing to boost graduate job prospects”
So – what impact does the doom and gloom have on our potential pool of applicants? Well, what I’ve seen since the financial crisis first hit is a tendency for candidates to employ, what we in the recruitment industry fondly refer to as, a “hit and hope” approach. The “hit and hope” approach refers to candidates sending out very generic applications to numerous organisations without any real thought into what it is they are trying to achieve at the end. These applications are usually very obvious to experienced recruitment teams, with very generic answers to questions, sometimes (shudder) even with a competitor’s name still in a motivational answer which has been copied and pasted from another application – oops! To avoid these kind of issues, you might want to check out an article written by Chris Bolton from our recruitment team on Plotr – get the inside scoop here.
So, what is the best approach to take when looking to start out in your career? Well, I would say that the best possible place to start is to spend some time thinking about what is REALLY important to you in a role. Think about it from the point of view of the type of role you want to start in, where you want to end up, and the type of organisation you want to work for. Get yourself a really robust list of the criteria you’re looking for, and then prioritise them. It might be that you’re looking for a role where you can travel, enjoy lots of development opportunities, earn pots of money and have a brilliant work life balance…. The chances are that in your first role, you’re not going to find absolutely everything on your wish list, so think about what is essential, and what is a “nice to have”. Then, start your research – your careers service at university or college will be really helpful, but also use your family, friend who are in work, and peer to peer review sites (like Rate My Apprenticeship, The Student Room etc) to find out what other people in your situation think of the various organisations you’re looking at.
When it gets to the point of application, think very carefully about whose application process you want to invest time in. Even a “hit and hope” application takes time to complete, and let’s face it – what is the point if you’re not going to end up in the right place for you? When you’re filling in an application, think really carefully about what the organisation is looking for. If you’ve done your research, the chances are, you will know exactly what the organisation is looking for. Employers aren’t shy about expressing what is important for them in a potential employee; for example, you might notice on the Capgemini website that our values are kind of a big deal for us! Make sure you use this knowledge when you are applying. Be really clear about why it is you think the organisation you’re applying to is the best place for you (and as a hint – “because you are a large, multinational company” is not the best response to the question “Why do you want to work with us?”!). Remember to show your passion for the organisation – the people who see your application are going to be incredibly passionate about the organisation they work for, and they want you to be as well!
Finally, don’t believe everything you read in the press… Yes, times have been tough, but talented people, who can really express why they are right for an organisation, are always going to be in demand. And let’s hope you never end up being interviewed by this guy: