If you read any newspaper these days, online or not, you might have the impression that demand outstrips supply and that your chances of getting a job are diminishing by the day/month/year. Numbers and statistics can have a strange distorting effect on our perceptions and a paradox exists.
Employers say about a third of graduate jobs are unfilled because of a shortage of skills. At the same time, the figure of 73 graduates chasing each graduate job is often quoted (that’s just an average, it’s double in retail and investment banking). Some areas of employment have more vacancies than others and some are more popular than others. So it depends.
Here’s a more encouraging way to look at it; you’re really only competing with about 6 people out of those 73.
These 6 people are the ones that have invested in work experience, know how to translate their achievements into what employers seek, tailor their CV accordingly and don’t make the kind of mistakes that filter them out. They’ve also done their research on the employer and the context of their business, know who they are and what they want, and have the confidence to put all the above across at the interview/assessment centre. They give themselves a chance.
You need to make sure you’re one of the 6, not the 67, to vastly improve your chances!
“You won’t get anything unless you have the vision to imagine it.”
Now take graduate schemes run by the major employers. Only 4% of graduates end up working on a major grad scheme. These schemes have clear benefits, however
they are vastly oversubscribed and don’t suit everyone. By all means apply for these schemes but avoid putting all your eggs in one basket.
Students and graduates often ignore small and medium enterprises, including start-ups. At the start of 2012, there were 4.8 million SMEs employing more than 14 million people in the UK. So why not start thinking about ways you could get a job at an SME?
There are numerous advantages of developing in an SME or start-up rather than one of their corporate counterparts:
- More responsibility because less people = exposure to a wider range of functions
- More chance of 1-1 mentoring – working directly with, and learning fast from company owners
- Challenging – they need you to succeed and contribute to the company’s success (hiring mistakes are costly), so no room for passengers or lack of professionalism
- Clearer and quicker focus on delivery, reward and recognition
- Greater independence and opportunity for initiative
“If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.”
Small companies don’t tend to have ‘schemes’ you can apply for, meaning it can be difficult to know how to get involved. Think about the type of business and industry that interests you, where you are prepared to live and work, then draw up a list of companies to approach.
Undertake a few informational interviews with business owners to find out what it’s really like and to pick their brains. You’ll be amazed how flattered they are when someone takes an interest in their ‘baby’.
You can now also build a more targeted profile on Witlr.com, based on an informed view of the nature of specific SMEs and start-ups. Witlr’s innovative approach is, one way of enabling SMEs to compete with larger employers in the student and graduate job market. Your detailed, searchable Witlr profile enables you to show the value you would bring to a company, making a brilliant case for employers to take a chance on you!
David Shindler is the author of “Learning to Leap, a Guide to Being More Employable”. An experienced coach and people development consultant, David specialises in developing and accelerating employability. He also runs the Employability Hub (a social learning community and resource centre), the Learning to Leap group on LinkedIn and Employability Hub Facebook fan page. Tweet him @David_Shindler and @EmployHub, find him on Google+ or contact him via his website.