There are plenty of common misconceptions about graduate jobs and careers, and recognising them for what they are will help you stay upbeat as you set about your graduate job hunt. The problem about negative career myths is that they drag you down, and in a tough graduate jobs market, when resilience and confidence are vital to keep going, that’s the last thing you need. We’ve unpicked three common graduate career myths to help you on your way as you apply for jobs.
Myth #1: The competition is overwhelming
Truth: Not every graduate job is being chased by vast numbers of candidates
You might have come across the statistic that there are 69, or 70, or more recently, 83, candidates for every graduate job, which sounds like such insuperable odds it’s enough to make you give up before you’ve even got started.
Well… it isn’t so. This statistic comes from a regular survey of members of the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR). The summer 2010 survey revealed that AGR members, who tend to be the larger graduate employers, had received 69 applications per vacancy, and in summer 2011 this rose to 83.
While this gives an idea of the intensity of competition for places on training schemes, it is not representative of graduate employers as a whole, only of AGR members. It also conceals significant variations between sectors, with investment banks and fund managers receiving 232 applications per vacancy in 2010–2011, compared to consulting or business services companies, which received 31 applications per vacancy.
As Simon Pollard, emerging talent manager at HSBC, told us recently, ‘The media would have you believe there are no jobs out there, yet it’s often the case that an employer from the retail group of the AGR will not fill their hiring quota.’ If you didn’t realise that the retail sector included jobs in banking.
Myth #2: The odds are even more heavily stacked against arts graduates
Truth: Arts graduates are welcome in business
Many of the graduate schemes on targetjobs.co.uk are open to graduates from any degree background, even in sectors such as banking. Recruiters seek to take on candidates with a variety of strengths and interests, and they’re looking for graduates with the right soft skills, so it’s about much more than the ability to handle numbers.
Yes, for many roles you’ll need a certain level of numeracy, but you’ll also need the interpersonal skills to work well in a team and build relationships with clients, and strong communication, presenting and writing skills. The recruitment process for any graduate role typically seeks to establish your strengths in a range of areas through a mixture of assessments such as psychometric tests, interviews, group discussions and presentation tasks.
Myth #3: Your career should start when you graduate and go straight on up to the top
Truth: Your career path is a journey, not a straight line
As you progress through school and university, it’s usually clear what the next goal is, and you tend to move from one stage to the next at fixed points. Careers are much less linear, and success is not as clear-cut as in the academic world. So don’t think about getting a graduate job as if it’s another exam. If you haven’t got one lined up to start as soon as you finish your degree, that isn’t a failure, nor does it diminish the long-term value of your studies. Recent research from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggested that wages for graduates and school leavers were roughly the same at 22 years old, but over a lifetime, graduates earn on average £12,000 a year more.
Whether it takes ten applications or a hundred before you get a job, the secret of success is keeping going, and that’s true once you’re in work, too. Resilience is highly prized by graduate recruiters, and it’s a quality that will stand you in good stead throughout your working life. Given that the world of work is changing all the time, there are bound to be twists and turns ahead of you that you couldn’t begin to imagine.
Source: Target jobs