By Jelena Radonjic
Career Fulfillment Coach and Recruitment Specialist
Do recruiters get it right when it comes to graduate and early careers? Read on for five stories of recent UK graduates and their job-hunting journeys.
Millennials and Gen Z want authentic, values-based leadership with meaningful careers that provide the opportunity for learning, growth and achievement. They want the kind of financial stability that the gig economy frustratingly lacks in order to fund their future and dreams. Are recruiters addressing these desires as they compete for the best talent?
Ammaar, MSc Computing and Information Systems, University of London, has made a tough decision to shift from a BA in Politics to Computer Science in order to pursue a career in consulting and technology. Like many graduates, Ammaar juggled multiple deadlines while completing his Masters, working part-time and applying for jobs at the same time.
As a step in the recruitment process, Ammaar underwent evaluation in various assessment centres. While such an experience can be stressful, Ammaar liked very much how friendly and supportive the assessors were. “They try their best to relieve the pressure of the day because they want to see the best version of you. Each assessment day I went to, the assessors were extremely personable and chatty! They regularly asked how I was doing and asked how the assessment day was going for me. From a candidate’s perspective, this is absolutely the right thing to do.”
Ammaar was most critical of the lack of communication throughout the recruitment process. “I was not happy with how long some companies took to get back to me. There were companies I had applied to in September and didn’t hear until April of the following year, despite the application process saying they would give me an answer at the start of the new year latest. The lack of communication was very frustrating if there were delays.”
Anisah, is currently completing a Masters in Psychology at King’s College. After 4 months of job hunting Anisah landed her desired role as a Healthcare Assistant in a primary care mental health team in a forensic setting. She found herself under a lot of pressure but found her career services office helpful in breaking down the job-hunting process into manageable chunks.
Unlike Ammaar, she received feedback from recruiters quite promptly – even when unsuccessful. “During my job-hunting experience I was most impressed by the fast response.
On the negative side, Anisah points to the importance of a super clear job description and the ability of a recruiter to paint a bigger picture of the team and organisation in relation to the role. “Even when asked during the interview, employers preferred to give me a vague answer of the role in general and I constantly left interviews unclear about how I would fit into the service.”
For Chris, a Chinese post-grad student in the UK it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Despite obtaining a second Master’s degree, she found it difficult to navigate the working visa issue in the UK and returned to her native country. She describes her biggest challenge: “As the economy in China hasn’t been great this year, there were fewer opportunities in the job market compared to previous years. I studied accounting in the UK and there is a big difference between UK and China accounting systems, I had to do something to close this gap in order to persuade companies I could do my job in China.”
What impressed her most was when two companies reached out to her to help her prepare for a phone interview: “These two companies sent me an email asking me what time is ok for me to do a phone interview with them and told me what type of question they will ask during the interview, as well as how long the interview will last. It really made my life easier. In my country, most companies don’t contact candidates to arrange a phone interview, they just call you straightaway. If you miss it or you are in a noisy environment, you are most likely losing it.”
Mark is an overseas student with a Masters in Computer Science from Cambridge. As top talent he got a role at Goldman Sachs without too much difficulty and then moved to a Start-up Accelerator as he has always wanted to work for a start-up or SME. “I like employers that follow less of a routine assessment centre format for interviews. While I understand this becomes more desirable and convenient when a company gets a lot of applications, this approach can make the recruitment process seem artificial. I liked the dynamic nature of my interviews with GS where I felt like the interviewers were really trying to get to know me more rather than looking to tick the boxes on their score sheets.
So, to sum up…. Protect your campus brand by delivering a high quality candidate experience during the recruitment and selection process. Word of mouth is a powerful way to elevate – or bring down – your employer brand. And thanks to platforms such as Glassdoor and Quora, Google reviews and many other online forums, it is worth remembering that you are under scrutiny more than ever before.
Career Fulfilment Coach and Recruitment Specialist