All Posts By

Gary Argent

Influencing Upwards

By | Strategy | No Comments

I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to present at the HELOA London Training Day held at Queen Mary University of London yesterday.  I met a group of passionate, inspiring professionals dedicated to improving opportunities for young people in HE, and hosted a workshop on how to influence upwards. Six Steps to Influencing Upwards (click to enlarge) The model that I introduced provoked a lively exchange of experiences and a debate on the emotions that this term can provoke.  We had a useful reminder that “influencing upwards” is not about some underhand way of getting someone to do something they don’t want to do – it is about working collaboratively to achieve mutual benefit: “a conscious approach to working with your manager towards mutually agreed-upon goals that are in the best interests of you, your boss, and your organisation” as defined in the excellent “Managing Up” published by Harvard Business Review. Finding better…

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Some thought provoking books

By | Graduate Recruitment, Strategy | No Comments

I’ve read some excellent books recently and thought it might be fun to share a few that have caused me to think differently about work, life and the early talent market over the last couple of years. Presence by Amy Cuddy. Following her excellent TED Talk which explores how body language influences the way we behave, this book goes into much greater depth about how to achieve “presence” to help you perform at your best.  A great read for anyone interested in imposter syndrome, how to conquer nerves, and how to benefit from a more positive mind set in your day-to-day life. Made To Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. Still my favourite book on the power of marketing messages and how to make sure they resonate with your audience.  The book is based on the concept of SUCCES: build your messages using Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional Stories.  I’ve…

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Saying ‘yes’ (or ‘no’)

By | Uncategorised | 2 Comments

Tomorrow marks three years since I started freelancing.  It has been an amazing experience: I love the sense of freedom that working for yourself creates and the buzz I get when I win a project, and I’m grateful that I have finally achieved a good work life balance. But having that freedom means I’ve needed to learn a new skill: I’ve had to get smarter about deciding what to say yes to, and when to say no.  I’ve had lots of different opportunities over the last three years, and I’d like to share five questions I ask myself when deciding where to focus my time: Will doing this generate income? As a freelancer if I don’t work, I don’t get paid, so opportunities that are going to generate income move to the top of the list.  I ask myself this question on a regular basis. Will doing this increase the…

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Improving your presentation skills

By | Campus Life, Graduate Recruitment | 2 Comments

Can you remember what you were doing at 6pm on Tuesday 12th November 1991? I can.  I was standing in a lecture hall in the University of Sheffield waiting for Logica’s milkround presentation to begin.  And for the first time I was part of the presentation team, not part of the audience.  And I was terrified. OK, I had to look in my diary to remember the actual date, but I can still remember the fear.  The thought of standing up to speak in front of a room full of students had me trembling in my boots. 10 years later I finally conquered that fear when I started working in graduate induction, presenting to groups of students every week.  It is a skill that has served me well, running events for the AGR and pitching business cases to the senior team at City University, but it is something I’m always…

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Presenting your best side: how to engage your audience

By | Campus Life, Graduate Recruitment | 3 Comments

I’ve really enjoyed supporting Smart Resourcing Solutions’ excellent assessment centre simulations over the last few weeks.  The events are a great way for students to experience the realities of the graduate selection process, and it has been interesting to see how they approached the presentation exercise in particular.  Some of the undergraduates were understandably nervous, but others (from Hertfordshire, Coventry and Kingston) were very impressive – much better than I would have been at that stage. I’ve always been interested in what makes a great presenter.  My first boss at Logica had the ability to really hold the room, and taught me about the importance of pace to help the audience understand key points.  More recently I’ve enjoyed watching Charlie Reeve’s excellent TEDx talks (@creeve76), Carolyn Parry’s compelling career coaching sessions (‪@CareerAlchemy‪), and Matthias Feist’s innovative use of technology and social media when he speaks (@matthias_feist). I’ve delivered many presentations…

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What advice would I offer the 21 year old Gary?

By | Graduate Recruitment, Uncategorised | No Comments

I was flattered to be invited to write a blog for King’s College London recently, offering advice and tips for the graduating cohort of 2016 at my old university. After recovering from the shock of realising that my own graduation was 25 years ago, I started thinking about the lessons I’d want to share with my 21 year old self at graduation. I’m grateful to have had a very varied and interesting career, but when I collected my degree certificate in summer 1991, I could never have imagined that one day I’d be working for myself in an industry that I’d not even heard of.  My journey has been guided by advice from many colleagues and friends, so here are my top tips for new graduates starting out on their own careers: Be open to new experiences. I started my career as a computer programmer, became a project manager, and…

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Real collaboration happens when your challenges overlap

By | Campus Life, Graduate Recruitment, Strategy | No Comments

I’ve had some interesting conversations recently with graduate recruiters and careers services, with both sides wanting to understand how they can engage more effectively with the other. I think the secret to great collaboration – and by this I mean more than just sponsoring a careers service handbook with your logo on the back page, or inviting an employer to come and deliver a workshop to your students – is about looking for overlapping challenges.  When a recruiter and a careers service work together to solve a problem they both face, good things happen.  And I think these overlapping challenges are more common that we might imagine. If you are working in a careers service, your university’s Access Agreement might mean that you need to think creatively about how to reach out to students from underrepresented backgrounds, who might not even know what a careers service does.  You might be…

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Never mind the BAFTAs, three cheers for the NUEAs

By | Graduate Recruitment, Placements & Internships | No Comments

I attended the National Undergraduate Employability Awards last week (although not, sadly, the BAFTAs) and it is hard to think of another event that creates the same blend of informative speakers, interesting discussions and a proper feel-good factor. I like the NUE Awards for two reasons. First, the two headline awards are based on student generated feedback and metrics. If you really want to know how your placement scheme (or careers service) is working, ask a student. When I was running the careers service at City I spent a lot of time measuring impact. I looked at how and why students used our different offerings, and tried to understand how these activities had an impact on their success – which of our interventions really helped students to get a graduate level job? I used student feedback to supplement the metrics we generated through CareerHub and DLHE to do this. Second,…

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How often do you wear the VC’s hat?

By | Campus Life, Strategy | No Comments

I have been working on an interesting project recently, helping a careers service to make sure that they are positioned effectively within the political landscape at their university. This apparently simple objective presents a number of challenges: Understanding the landscape and the key players (internal and external) that influence it; Getting your agenda onto the senior team’s radar; Having a clear strategy and a “sticky” message that describes what you do; Making sure every person in your team understands and buys into the principles that drive your service. Here are a couple of ideas that might help you to tackle these challenges: To understand the wider political landscape, investigate your university’s approach to managing risk. Knowing what is on the risk register will help you focus on what matters to your senior team. Understanding the steps that are in place to manage each risk will show you what is on the agenda…

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What’s Your Story?

By | Campus Life, Graduate Recruitment | No Comments

I have run some skills workshops recently to help students think about how to stand out from the crowd in the graduate employment market, something that I really enjoy doing. My talk is based on observations from my time as a graduate recruiter, and builds on the premise that the best candidates know how to tell a compelling story about themselves. In my experience, a good story has three important elements: It is distinctive, because the candidate has developed plenty of examples that show why they are ready for the workplace. It is engaging, because the candidate tells their story in a way that catches the recruiter’s attention and makes them want to hear more. It is tailored, because the candidate has done their research properly and uses this knowledge to target their applications, making their story relevant to a specific role in a specific company. Sounds simple really. And…

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