CWO Forum - Graduate Recruitment Report

Conservative Women's Organisation and Conservative Future Forum on Graduate Recruitment

15th February 2011
House of Commons



Pauline Lucas, Niki Molnar, Eve Burt, Sophie Stratton, Theodora Clarke, Ben Howlett, Claire Hilley and other members of the public and Conservative Future

Speakers (5mins):
Andrew Stephenson MP – Vice chairman of the Conservative Party for Youth
Lucy Chamberlain – Angela Mortimer Ltd (recruiter)
Tim King- Matchking (recruiter)
Serene Richards- Conservative Future (student)

Opening remarks: Pauline Lucas

Serene Richards: student at UCL in process of applying for jobs.

  • Challenges facing students. Only one in five graduates currently employed. Issue of access to opportunities.

  • Unpaid internships only route into job- raises questions about meritocracy. Example of Conservative fundraising dinner where parents bid for internships for their children.

  • Rise of social media and online networking and this impact on the jobs’ market ie. the 'video CV’.

  • New generation of disillusioned graduates.

Lucy Chamberlain: runs recruitment agency part of the Angela Mortimer group.

  • Increasing need for graduates to have work experience. Higher number of graduates for same number of jobs.

  • Degree and academic achievements no longer enough to be competitive. Only 5% of CVs get an interview.

  • Lack of careers awareness at school and university. Many companies had recruitment freeze during financial crisis and now problem with public sector cuts.

  • Students need to reconsider the degree they study and how relevant it is to an employer. Worrying lack of graduate jobs- could result in brain drain as graduates seek opportunities abroad.

  • Graduates need to learn to market themselves more effectively eg. networking, good CV, interviews, work experience.

  • Minimum work experience of two weeks- start earlier at school.

  • Use of headhunters- 51% quicker process to find a job.

Tim King: recruiter specialising in IT and telecoms.

  • Importance of graduate CVs and social networking. Need to reflect skills both vocational and academic. Degree is relevant if in business etc shows commercial awareness.

  • Increasing use of internet in recruitment. Linkedin is a powerful tool. Employers and recruiters use networking sites to gain opinion of candidate. Be careful with your facebook and twitter accounts with personal information about you outside of work.

  • Most applications now online. This means very high number of applications 50-100 per job advert. CV very important as it results in interview or being rejected at first stage. Look at job adverts in Telegraph appointments section.

  • Keep updated on recent jobs through variety of media. Problem with current graduates is lack of awareness about their skillset.

  • Recruiter is looking for graduates with commercial experience and an understanding of the market.

  • Never have spelling mistakes or basic errors on your CV. Be aware of search word criteria when writing your CV to get noticed by recruiter search engines.

Andrew Stephenson MP:

  • Young people still underrepresented in politics. Role of graduate tough as ever. Understanding of challenges face as one of youngest MPs. Uncertain times, difficult economy, time of reduncancies.

  • How can we help graduates? In constituency of Pendle 1/3 of jobs in manufacturing industry. Reluctance to hire graduates prefer apprentices or students with vocational training. Universities need to do more to equip young people for the world of work.

  • Employers recruit graduates who have excellent academic grades but they display lack of commercial awareness.

  • Coalition government recognises the need to help graduates more. Importance of quality work experience.

  • Issue of unpaid placements- access to opportunities. Government proposing to help young unemployed people eg. Job Centre Plus is matching up young people with jobs. If you are do an 8 week internship it will no longer affect your benefit payments. Increasing importance of interpersonal skills.

  • Think outside the box and consider setting up own firm. Need to encourage more young entrepreneurs.

  • Government keen to support small businesses to grow. There will be 40,000 new businesses by 2013 some of which could be set up and run by you.

  • Government’s number one priority is getting the economy back on track and this will create more jobs in the long term. More employers will have more money to take on new staff and grow.

Questions from the floor

Recent graduate: Lack of preparation at university for the jobs’ market. So focused on examinations that no one starts looking for a jobs until after university finishes which is too late. Difficult to stay at home with lack of opportunities whilst unemployed. Lack of dedicated careers advisors at university. Need to be better equipped with right skills for finding a job when in education.

Recent graduate: Issue with expectations after degree. Graduates feel entitled to walk into a job after university. Not situation at all in this market. So competitive at job fairs and for company training schemes. Not sure what skills employers looking for graduates. How valuable are academic qualifications?

Lucy Chamberlain: importance of widening your job search. Look outside the usual Milkround graduate schemes. Lots of smaller firms hiring graduates too. Be open to different roles if you are not sure what to you want to do. CV is an important sales tool.

Theodora Clarke: problem with careers services at university and schools. Lack of knowledge of the graduate jobs’ market and lack of opportunities. Many academic faculty now equipped to deal with careers advisor role as never had a job outside of academia or done online applications of the type that graduates face today. Importance of face to face meetings and networking. Contacts essential to finding a job, not just relying on computers and online applications.

Raleigh International: gap year company for students and graduates. We attend many gap year fairs and talk to graduates themselves. Online resources mean it is much easier to access opportunities. Important to go to graduate fairs. Many firms select graduates from these events. Develop skills that build your CV eg. overseas volunteering.

Recent graduate: spent the last year filling out applications and heard no response. Ended up falling into recruitment as a job which is not enjoyable as career. So difficult to find a job doing something you like.

Andrew Stephenson MP: long-term unemployment is an issue. Creates problem for graduate as employers less keen to hire someone who has been out of work for a long period of time. A job is a job. Better to do something while looking for the dream job you want to do. Started out as a bartender long before becoming an MP. Work experience is essential.

Parent: what should we encourage our children to study at university? Eg. Geography versus Business Studies. Do employers really take into account the choice of their degree when selecting candidates?

Angela Mortimer Ltd: work experience absolutely essential to find out what you enjoy and interests you. Even one week in an office will tell you enough about that industry to decide. Consider doing paid temporary work- good way to meet clients. Many temp jobs turn into full-time employment. Build your CV all the time.

Recruiter: importance of building external skills in addition to academic qualifications. Section on your CV on external interests shows teamworking, leadership etc. Draw on gap year or work experience for examples.

Recent graduate: in debt of 20k after university and still not got a job. How valuable is two week internship versus a degree? Forced to do unpaid internships to get a foot in the door with no guarantee of job at the end of it.

Serene Richards: Are graduates entitled to a job? Graduates have this expectation that as they worked hard, got good grades and went to university they should be given a job at the end of it. No awareness of how tough the jobs’ market is until it is too late and they have left.

Student: difficulty of finding an internship and doing unpaid work when studying. Lack of time and money to do so.

Andrew Stephenson MP: most people end up doing work experience for free when they start out. Government setting up a mentoring scheme to help people eg. Operation Black Vote amongst the new intake of MPs.

Tim King: people search CVs by keywords. Importance of graduates knowing what to put on their CVs and importance of building an online profile. Use internet to discover references and connections with candidates.

Niki Molnar: awareness of your image. Limit your public profile ie. facebook photographs as employers will google you.

Student: what kind of jobs do recruiters fill? What look for in candidates?

Tim King: good CV with skills for that job, no mistakes as this is easiest way for your CV to be binned. Importance of proofreading and targeting. Interests very important as they show you as a person. Have a personal profile stating clearly your objective at the top of your CV.

Careers advisor: work with university careers services and students. Whole careers industry being dumbed down. No longer need two years of postgraduate training to be a careers advisor- lack of knowledge and expertise in market.

Young entrepreneur: is it the responsibility of universities to provide careers advisors? Why can you not study a degree you like eg. history instead of a 'useful’ degree such as business studies? No guarantee that either will provide you a job but both teach you valuable skills.

Final comments

Tim King: write your CV with no mistakes and send it to a headhunter

Lucy Chamberlain: look at every option and expand your job search beyond the usual Milkround companies

Serene Richards: keep applying for things and keep building your CV

Andrew Stephenson MP: stay positive, be persistent, take the initiative and do some work experience. Never give up your dream job.

Closing remarks: Pauline Lucas and Ben Howlett

With thanks to Theodora Clarke and Sophie Stratton

For further information about the CWO, or to arrange an interview with anyone named in this release, please contact:

CWO Chairman
Tel: (020) 7984 8139