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Thursday, 18 February 2010

British graduates looking for a job abroad

Not surprisingly, graduates who are finding the UK job market tough at the moment are looking further afield for work. What is more surprising is the high proportion who have decided that another country could be their best option. More than a third of British graduates are considering a move abroad in a bid to beat the lack of jobs for graduates in the UK.

We surveyed over 1,000 recent graduates and final-year university students to find out what their intentions were post-degree. 21% of final-year university students said they were considering a Masters degree to complement their education, whilst 67% said they would try to secure employment before looking at further studies. The remainder said they were looking into all options, including taking a gap year. That is all fairly predictable.

However 34% of graduates said they were looking at jobs abroad, with the majority blaming the lack of opportunity for employment within the UK. Just 1 in 5 graduates had found employment in their chosen career. One of the students we spoke to said: “My preferred choice would be to secure a graduate role in the UK but if I can’t find what I am looking for then I will definitely be job hunting in Europe.”

Even if only a quarter of these students looking at jobs abroad left for greener pastures, the loss to the British job market would be felt for years to come. Some of our brightest and best talent could be lost for good which doesn’t bode well for the future.

Graduates are becoming more and more likely to stray and the reason is lack of success whilst job hunting. We see such talent on our site every day, I really think businesses are missing a trick if they don’t snap up some of these students quickly. We all want to help the UK economy pull out of the recession and one of the ways we can do that is to give opportunities to our students and graduates who are the workforce of tomorrow. They are talented and a vibrant asset to our business communities.

Businesses who take on students and graduates are able to benefit from some of the UK’s brightest and best young people, whilst at the same time improving their profitability at a time when every penny counts.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

One bride, two students and ITV's West Country Tonight

Recently we had a fascinating day's filming with ITV news for their regional West Country Tonight programme which was arranged by our PR company 10 Yetis. Two perfect examples of how we intended employers and students to work together through the site were filmed. The first case study was a bride who used a student for her wedding photography and the second case study was a music student using her singing skills as well as doing some online marketing for a business. Both students earned money and gained valuable commercial experience. The employers benefited from fresh thinking students and saved money.

The day began at the very smart Hare and Hounds in Tetbury which is where the wedding reception had taken place. The stage was set and filming begun. The film crew wanted to capture the bride viewing her wedding photos for the first time live on camera. The bride was thrilled and said that Kerry, the graduate photographer from the University of Leeds, "offers a service that is second to none". Kerry was equally delighted because she able to add to her photography portfolio.
The next interview was with me and the journalist wanted to find out why we had set up studentgems which was relatively simple to answer. We strongly believe that college and university students are both talented and competent and that all employers should have instant and easy access to student skills. We also believe that students should be paid. Things have changed quite a bit since the first time I was interviewed as all I remember is a distinct paralysis - I couldn't move, breathe or speak and that has to be because of the skills you can learn when signing up with toastmasters.

The day finished in the Music Faculty at the University of Gloucester with a second year student who is studying Popular Music. Saskia has embraced the site and earned money by using her wide-ranging skills including research, logo designing, copywriting and preparing a powerpoint presentation. She showed the journalist round the website, sang and described the online marketing she is doing for a business which is based miles away in Oxfordshire.

It was an extremely interesting day and brilliantly organised by @CharlotteYeti. It was a privilege to gain such a fascinating insight into how news features are made and then edited resulting in a short film that illustrates exactly was studentgems is all about.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

120 applicants for every job, businesses are inundated with CVs

We conducted a study of 872 businesses across the UK. The results show that most companies receive an average of 120 applications for a newly advertised vacancy, short lists have doubled and candidates face a 1 in 10 chance of getting through an interview. Candidates also endure tougher tests and questions during the interview process.

With jobs being lost across the UK, passing the interview process is becoming much more challenging; the candidate really must ‘wow’ the employer in order to stand out against other applicants.

We encourage students at university and college to gain as much relevant experience as possible, which is one of the reasons we set up studentgems.com. Then, when the time comes for interviews, their CV is loaded with relevant evidence to show they are suitable for the position. Employers are taking great care with their recruitment and ensuring they hire the right person for the job.

This research was picked up by several journalists and we had some wide reaching coverage, both online and offline, including some great coverage in the Daily Telegraph. We then had a phone call to the office from a recruitment agent saying he just couldn’t find enough graduates for his vacancies!

So, all you graduates looking for your first ‘proper’ job, don’t give up. Some recruiters are falling over themselves to find you; maybe they aren’t looking in the right places... Make sure you are easy to find!

Monday, 8 February 2010

Speeling and grammer DO matter!!

Back in May 2008 our first major piece of media coverage was being on BBC Radio 4’s The Learning Curve, hosted by Libby Purves. She interviewed an employer and a student who had worked together on a project with a very successful outcome and both parties were delighted.

The employer gave the job to that particular student because he was a good communicator. He used proper grammar, correct punctuation and didn’t resort to the ubiquitous ‘text speak’ unlike some of the other applicants. The fact that he could use a capital ‘I’ in the right place got him a very lucrative job!

I remember being surprised at how important this was to the employer; after all, it was very clear to see from all the student profiles just how talented they were in their own areas. Given that this was a graphic design job, no writing involved, why was it so crucial?

The answer is that as a first impression it leaves a lot to be desired if initial communication is strewn with errors. The issue also hit a nerve with Libby Purves and she wrote about it in her Times column the following week.

It is now almost 2 years later and we have amassed considerable evidence that correct spelling, grammar and punctuation are of paramount importance to the vast majority of employers using studentgems.com. Our research has shown that over half of employers will dismiss applications for a single spelling mistake and we have compiled the following list of the top 5 most common spelling, grammatical and communication errors:

1) Using ‘text speak’ to communicate with employers, in particular the use of 'i' instead of 'I'.
2) Not checking spelling. Amongst the most common mistakes are the incorrect use of where/were, there/their and college/collage.
3) Communication is too informal with the use of 'hiya' and 'cheers'.
4) Poor grammar, punctuation and formatting. Inappropriate use of capital letters, commas and full stops together with a lack of attention to detail when setting out letters and emails.
5) Failing to respond promptly.

Maybe the danger on studentgems is to think that applying for one-off jobs and projects is somehow less important and that the usual rules don’t apply. Wrong! There is no doubt that those who remember all the old classroom lessons about correct writing are far more successful than those who respond:

“hiya im interested, cheers, kate”

Students and recent graduates who are able to bolster their CV with relevant work experience are faring so much better in the full-time job market, Surely it’s worth putting in the effort to get that experience if it makes the ultimate goal so much easier to attain?