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In a time of global recession, it could feel like the worst time to be graduating from university, but graduate recruitment has not been massively adversely affected by the recession. Despite some large recruiters cutting back, most employers have learnt that cutting graduate recruitment now will mean creating a skills shortage in the future.
Graduate schemes are more likely to provide graduates with highly-paid jobs than direct entry applications or enquiries. Graduates who are successfully accepted onto such a scheme can expect advanced training packages, flexibility to move across departments within a company or organisation and build a large knowledge and skills base as a result. Jobs resulting from graduate recruitment schemes are also more likely to offer performance-related bonuses, pension schemes, private healthcare, lucrative expense accounts and support in furthering your education.
Most schemes last for around one year, and many will include the opportunity to study towards a professional qualification funded by the organisation, as well as to learn from a variety of mentors. Most graduate schemes combine key skills training with on-the-job experience.
Some people have unfavourable experiences on graduate recruitment schemes, with many disliking adopting the 'trainee' title for the first year of employment. Sometimes rotational placements are mandatory, whether it is beneficial to your chosen career or not. The main thing people dislike about graduate recruitment schemes is that it means abandoning any hopes of getting a job in the current year, and committing to being trained for a career in a particular organisation for a year. Despite this, they continue to be more likely to lead to highly paid jobs than other types of job applications.
While all graduate recruitment schemes are different depending on the industry and job, there are some common work skills which tend to be included in most, including project management, people management, negotiating skills and communication. Most companies encourage those on training schemes to pursue professional qualifications, providing support and advice to help candidates do so.
Graduate recruitment schemes tend to be offered by the financial services sector. In 2009 46% of the biggest graduate recruiters were companies relating to finance. Graduate recruitment schemes are also the best way into a career in the public sector and accountancy.
Trainees are usually assigned a mentor, who is usually a senior manager or director. They can provide help and advice about how best to advance your career development, and achieve your goals. As with many new employees at a company, you could also be assigned a 'work buddy' to help you settle in a social sense. They will usually have completed a graduate training scheme themselves. On the whole companies tend to treat graduate trainees quite well, providing them with the information and support about their career options to allow them to make informed decisions about how best to progress.
When the training scheme is completed candidates will usually end up with a junior management job role, although consultation tends to take place between the company and the candidate to ensure that the role is best suited to them.
If you live in an area without too many graduate positions available, your career will probably be greatly assisted if you relocate to a more industrial city. It can be a big change, but employers will see your move from University as proof of your ability to cope with big changes.
It's important that students make the most of their time at university. Employers see graduates as adding real value to their companies, but often a degree alone is not enough. It is important that graduates make themselves as employable as possible, through academic attainment and softer skills gained through hobbies, activities, volunteering and work placements.
It's important to be able to show employers that you actually want to work in the industry or role in which you are applying for. Put effort into your degree, manage your time well and appear enthusiastic at interviews. If necessary, learn more about the sector and role beforehand.
You may not perceive that bar or shop work can be useful in a chosen career path, but vital skills such as financial prudence, time management and communication skills are all verifiable through part time employment and are sought-after qualities in any employee.
Flexibility is a good attribute to acquire while you are at university. Balancing work with study, sports and socialising, as well as moving away from home, prove you are flexible and practical. These things may sound basic, but learning to adapt to different situations may end up being extremely important, if the employer relocates or the job requires a lot of travel or working from home.
Admission to a graduate training scheme could be hard to obtain, with many schemes currently receiving up to 50 applications for every available post. It usually starts online when recruiters ask candidates to fill in a form application. These applications are then processed and the most appropriate candidates are selected by automated processes including keyword searches.
When the best candidates are interviewed some companies use group assessment activities. You can be asked to perform a range of exercises under observation, while the recruiters assess how well candidates cope under pressure, and work with others to solve problems.
As a candidate, you need to keep your cool. Psychometric tests can also be used as part of the selection process, but with information from careers advisers and appropriate research of the role it shouldn't be too taxing for the appropriate candidates.
Employers are most likely to want to know the basics - why you want the job, and what your strengths and weaknesses are. They want to know whether you will work easily with other people and how motivated you are. As always with interviews, proper research of the industry, the company and the role will prove to be the key to success. It can also be a good idea to ask some relevant questions at the end of an interview to show you are passionate, curious and interested.