Graduate Recruitment

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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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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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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