All Posts By

Gary Argent

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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The First Six Months

By | Graduate Recruitment | 9 Comments

It seems strange to think that Graduate Transitions opened for business six months ago today. The time has gone by in a flash and it has been enjoyable, educational and exhilarating. Here are a few of the things that I’ve learned: The thrill of winning my first project was like nothing I’ve ever felt before. Professional networks are invaluable – AGCAS, AGR, PlaceNet and NASES have all given me great opportunities to get out, meet people, listen, learn and contribute. Twitter has been great too – a re-tweeted tweet led to an opportunity this summer. The sense of isolation has been hard to adjust to, especially after working with such a fabulous, engaging and vibrant team at City. A wise man called Hugh Jones (@‪hughjconsulting) warned me that I’d miss the personal validation that we get from the chat at the coffee point every morning, and he was right. Being…

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PlaceNet – A great Place to Network

By | Graduate Recruitment, Placements & Internships | No Comments

On Friday I visited the University of Coventry to attend the PlaceNet Workshop, “Using Social and Digital Media in Employability Initiatives” ( The presentations really got me thinking about how careers professionals and graduate recruiters face a similar challenge: how can we engage with students that come from a generation which processes and discards information very quickly. 8 seconds is, on average, the window of opportunity we have to catch their eye, according to Alex Field from Rate My Placement (@FieldRMP). Alex and Graham Kaye-Taylor from Brunel University (@PlacementBlog) shared some fascinating thoughts on why we need to be disruptive with our engagement activities, including a live demonstration of Periscope with Sandy Chow at Centrica (@SandypwChow). The use of video to deliver short, catchy bursts of information as a “teaser” to lead students towards a more detailed message clearly has a lot of potential. The workshop also reminded me why…

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(When) do you see a return on the investment you make in your graduates?

By | Graduate Recruitment | No Comments

I spent a very enjoyable morning at the AGR Development Network meeting yesterday. In particular, AGR’s Research Analyst Samuel Gordon presented some fascinating statistics on graduate retention and Return on Investment (ROI), noting that in some sectors more than half of the employers surveyed by AGR don’t measure ROI for their graduate schemes. This surprised me, especially given the relatively common practice of measuring retention rates. If you can’t measure the return that your graduates deliver, and more specifically if you can’t be sure whether a graduate leaves before ROI turns positive, how do you know whether your scheme is making a financial contribution to the business? This got me thinking about a briefing paper on this topic that I helped AGR produce in 2009 (“What is the Return on your Investment? Measuring the value of your graduate and placement schemes” – AGR members can download it from the website)….

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Two sides of the same problem?

By | Campus Life, Graduate Recruitment | No Comments

The conversations I’ve had with careers services and graduate recruiters over the last couple of weeks have made one thing very clear: both groups are trying hard to solve the same challenge, they are just approaching from different perspectives. What is the common challenge? To create an environment where the right kind of students meet the right kind of employers, at a time which is right for both, and with both sides having a good understanding of the other. What are the different perspectives? For university career services, they look after a huge, diverse range of students who are studying different courses and who are at vastly different points on their journey towards employment. They spend a (small?) percentage of their time with employers, and have to use this knowledge to inform the advice they give students. Many services work with their students from well before they arrive at university…

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What can universities learn from graduate recruiters?

By | Graduate Recruitment, Student Recruitment | No Comments

I was very interested to read an article in The Guardian that highlights the intention of a significant number of UK Universities to increase their intake over the next few years. Reacting to the lifting of the student number caps almost half of the universities surveyed plan to expand their undergraduate programmes. With the school leaver population continuing to fall until 2020 and universities repeatedly stating their desire to recruit the highest quality students for their courses, the HE recruitment landscape is becoming much more competitive. University recruitment teams will find themselves not only competing with each other, but competing with other schemes including apprenticeships and employers with their own direct entry school leaver programmes. As an ex-graduate recruiter myself who has recently spent four years working in HE, I see many parallels between the challenges that universities will face and the problems that graduate recruiters have been tackling for…

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What have I learned during my time at City?

By | Campus Life, Graduate Recruitment | 2 Comments
With three weeks to go before I launch Graduate Transitions I’ve spent a lot time reflecting on my experience at City University London, thinking about what I’ve learned during my four years as Director of Careers. I’ve been fortunate to work at City during this period. The university remains very focused on graduate employment and investment has seen the careers service grow considerably since 2011. I’ve had the chance to witness first hand major changes in the Higher Education landscape: the introduction of increased undergraduate fees in 2012 and the changes to the undergraduate and postgraduate recruitment processes have all had a tangible impact on student expectations, and the behaviours they exhibit as a result. Universities have had to respond to meet these changing demands and this is creating new opportunities for employers. Campus life feels very different to that which I remember when I ran my first skills session at...
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