21 Feb 2017

Advice for the careers advisors: graduates need better


One of the delights but also frustrations in my role as a recruiter is getting to meet so many bright graduates looking to be placed in the digital industry. The delights are that never have we been so blessed with so many talented, driven and ambitious young people wanting to join the sector. On the other hand, the frustrations stem from how many seem confused by the roles they could go for, how transferable the skills they learned in their degrees are, and the lack of understanding of the realities of getting the job they want.

Let me give a recent example. In a chat with a recent graduate, it emerged that his ideal role was Brand Manager in a sports brand. We did a little research and found the routes that those already in that sort of role had taken to get there. This seemed to confuse him. He was very surprised about the planning and effort he would need to put in just to get himself on the right path to the job. And he was concerned that this was the first time he was hearing this.

Surely, that sort of advice needs to be coming from the careers advisors within universities? Surely, rather than just looking at employment statistics for the next prospectus they should be offering real world advice? Surely, it should be the job of those in the university to suggest that employers look for some experience, look for real evidence of candidates wanting the job and evidence that they can actually do it? For a graduate to stand out and get on the route to their ideal job, they need to take the initiative and really drive the careers advice teams to work for them. Undergraduates need to ask for help to secure that work placement, and help to understand that careers are not always linear. There are many ways to get to where you want to be.

The graduates I see are struggling to make informed decisions about their future.Entering what can be a hostile post-Brexit job market fraught with obstacles (including unpaid internships), they need better advice than they are getting. And, considering the sums of money they’ve just shelled out on their university degrees, they deserve better advice than they are getting.

To my mind, the university careers service model isn’t fit for purpose. It seems to be based on giving facts and information sources rather than helping students assess where they are, show them how to research effectively and explore their options. Careers advisors need to be more knowledgeable about the digital sector (both jobs in digital technology companies and digital tech jobs within traditional industries) and the very different career routes open to graduates, so that they can offer the best support for individuals and a sector that employs 1.5 million people, and growing.


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