Tools such as recruitment agencies and online job boards are essential to help you in your search for work
The outlook for graduate job-hunters is improving. High Fliers Research’s latest annual review of graduate vacancies, for 2016, showed that leading employers were set to increase their graduate recruitment by a further 7.5 per cent – the fourth consecutive year that graduate vacancies have increased. Employers in nine out of 13 key industries took on more graduates in 2016 than they did the previous year. This substantial increase takes graduate recruitment beyond the the 2007 pre-recession peak in the graduate job market, which means that there will be more opportunities for the current year of university leavers than at any time in the last decade.
Still, it’s still an ultracompetitive world, particularly for the plum graduate jobs, so how can you improve your chances of bagging that dream first position? As well as exploring all the usual avenues – your university’s careers service, careers fairs, local and national newspapers’ job pages, the internet and any personal networking opportunities – you may also wish to consider the support and services offered by recruitment agencies. Because, in addition to potentially helping you secure a permanent contract, signing up to a recruitment agency can be a useful way of getting valuable work experience and industry insight – not to mention a bit of cash – even if only on a temporary basis.
The hunter and the hunted
A reputable recruitment consultant will want to meet you in person to discuss your requirements, help you fine-tune your CV accordingly and proffer “insider” advice. Accept all such feedback – after all, these people are in regular, direct contact with employers from your target sectors.
Likewise, it is in the agency’s interest to understand you and what you offer, as it makes its money by successfully matching candidates with companies, usually charging a fee to the latter. So, to achieve the best results for both parties, try to build a relationship with your consultant. This means accentuating your achievements and ambitions to ensure that you are represented accurately – tell them about the type of jobs you do or don’t want, and if they are not finding you work, discuss why this might be and consider adjusting priorities and parameters accordingly.
Your consultant should put you forward only for jobs you are interested in, regularly update you on progress with your applications and supply you with ample information on each vacancy and its terms and conditions.
Finding the right recruiter
There are many different tools available to jobseekers. The recruiting information sites HireScores.com and Jobsite.co.uk, for instance, both rank recruitment agencies according to feedback provided by candidates, enabling you to find out which agencies have performed well for other jobseekers. These days, many recruiters are specialists attuned to the requirements of a particular sector (or sectors) such as construction, publishing, engineering, IT or law. Their specialist knowledge means that they are able to provide you with good opportunities to progress in your chosen field by tracking down vacancies that are appropriate for your skill set and ambitions.
Meanwhile, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) is the professional body for the UK’s recruitment industry and provides a comprehensive directory of agencies listed by specialism (accountancy, advertising, agriculture and so on) and by location on its website. The online directory Agency Central provides a similar service, too, while ads in business directories should also indicate the types of work an agency manages. In addition, you should seek out word-of-mouth recommendations from other jobseekers in your field.
Widening the net
As well as registering with professional recruitment agencies, visiting recruitment websites (also known as “job boards”) is a great way to find out about job openings. They enable you to apply for any vacancies that may appeal, but you’ll only get out of them what you put in. You can’t, for instance, simply upload an unfocused CV to countless websites, then sit back and wait for HR directors to contact you. However, selected carefully and used wisely, recruitment websites can be valuable tools for your job-seeking strategy.
To get the most out of them, keep notes of what you’ve posted and where; limit the number of job boards you use; sculpt your per-site particulars according to the applications you make on it; and check and update your details regularly, always making sure to protect any personal data through the sites’ privacy settings.
As for which job boards to use, in 2016, Milkround was the most widely used graduate recruitment website for the ninth year running (and for 11 of the last 13 years), used by more than half of all top graduates during their job searches. The site, which has more than a million registered users, also exploits the potential of social media through its Facebook page and a Twitter feed that graduates can follow. Milkround’s competitors include TARGETjobs, Totaljobs, Monster and Gradunet.
Finally, a word of caution with respect to relying exclusively on recruitment agencies: many organisations had their staffing budgets slashed during the last recession and are therefore reverting to securing new hires directly, often through the jobs section on their own website. Given this trend, keep a close eye on the job boards and websites of any companies you’d like to work for, in addition to using recruitment agencies and websites.
Directory and information sites
High Fliers Research
Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC)
Generalist recruitment agencies
Badenoch & Clark
Specialist recruitment agencies
Only Marketing Jobs