New research now tells us that state school educated graduates get better grades than their private school counterparts but they come off worse when it comes to job opportunities and salaries.
Sadly I’m not surprised.
I saw this recent piece in the Telegraph which purports to enlighten graduates as to what companies look for when recruiting them. Here are four quotes…I’ve left out the name of the recruiter and company. They were all sizeable service sector businesses:
“We are after people with a can-do attitude, enthusiasm, interpersonal skills and the drive and ambition to make an impact. Softer skills such as collaboration are also valued, especially as employees often have to work with a variety of people outside their immediate team. For us, it’s less about what you’ve studied and more about why you want to work for us and what you can bring.”
“We want to employ bright, intelligent students with inquisitive minds. We are totally non-specific in terms of the degree taken. We are also keen to see candidates who have gained work experience in industry and are able to demonstrate a real intent to pursue a career in research, marketing and communications.”
“Some of our most successful employees have captained a rugby team or been president of the students’ union. One of the biggest frustrations we have is meeting students with the same CVs and answers — as if they have all been prepped in the same way. At interview we try to assess behaviour as much as any work experience to give us a sense of the future a candidate might have with our company.”
“We’re looking for exceptional, rounded, ambitious individuals who can show sustained involvement in activities other than the purely academic, such as work experience, industrial placements and voluntary work in the UK or abroad.”
Are you any the wiser as to what they’re looking for? If you were making your first foray into the jobs market would you know which one was for you?
They clearly have access to a thesaurus (exceptional, rounded, bright, intelligent, can-do, interpersonal…you get the picture) and seem to have no interest in offering any insight into what may set them apart.
And beyond that it’s just bland, colourless words.
Remember the findings shared at CIPD12 about youth employment ‘Too often entry level roles fail to stimulate or engage them, and give them a poor experience of the workplace. They need variety, challenge, teamwork and customer interaction – try to give it to them; it will bring out their best’
The two tiered approach I mentioned at the start is entirely consistent with research I did about 18 months ago into PWCs new initiative to get non grads into their business. Read it here – 50% of people don’t go to university yet only 7.7% of trainee positions are for non-grads.
So we really now have a three tiered approach with many of our major businesses. Alas there are no stats for how the grad positions at PWC split between state and private school educated kids….though given that the one professional services firm quoted above talked about looking for rugby captains and student union presidents I think we can make an educated guess….
Barely a day goes by without someone in my timeline moaning about graduates and their sense of entitlement in the job market. Some readers will know that I usually side with the graduate!
The ‘in my day we took any job‘ hirers are right. They did! Except now they are hiring they aren’t looking for someone who wants ‘any‘ job. They want someone who wants their job, in their company, in their sector. And they want someone who will prove that commitment in interview. And if successful will then start a 3 month probation period, after which time if they’re lucky they will get KPIs, targets, appraisals and performance reviews.
The ‘in my day we took any job‘ brigade rarely ever had that. Smart and eager was often enough.
As in so many areas of business at the moment, we have an uncertain future with fewer openings. Maybe graduate recruiters are getting too used to finding reasons to reject rather than looking for reasons to hire.
There’s talent everywhere. There’s an abundance of talent, a million or so of it are under 25 – young, hungry and keen.
Open your eyes and go get it. Develop it. Nurture it. Invest in it. Stop talking it down, blaming it and making it grateful for 20 – 40 hours a week work. And stop hiding behind bland, colourless words…
…and if you’re obsessing about graduates then heed the words of US HR Blogger China Gorman:
“Four-year college degrees have long been a proxy for base level of skills—that a person can write, work with numbers, and think through difficult questions. Except that’s probably not true any more. Not only are there many ways to get those skills these days, there are many ways to get them that don’t include an over-priced experience that saddles the student with tens of thousands of dollars of debt. Additionally, most employers will argue that a four-year degree isn’t a proxy for anything any more: they provide no guarantee that the holder will actually be able to write, speak, think or do the most basic math”