Have I Missed the Graduate Recruitment Boat?

Last year when shopping (late) for Easter Eggs the experience reminded me of graduate recruitment.

For months the chocolate eggs have been on the shelves, a huge array far earlier than I had any inclination to think about Easter, let alone make my selection. They were no more than a frustrating distraction and unnecessary use of space when my mind wanted to be on other things. 

Then, just on the day I decided I needed to find some it was really difficult. I wasn't even looking for anything special or unique - the recipient likes a traditional chocolate egg, must be Cadburys, but that's it! Easy to buy for. Any variety of that well-known brand would do. But all I could find was the right brand but with a surplus fluffy bunny, or fairly standard but the wrong brand and often then a bit battered looking. The very last dejected tiny selection.

It can be like that with graduate employers and schemes. You spend time all through the autumn graduate recruitment phase dodging graduate recruiters with stands and leaflets, scrolling past ads on social media, deleting emails from the Careers Service and other parts of the University. You get so used to them being there every year, every term especially in the autumn when you are busy with other things, that you've got great and filtering them out of your consciousness. Something to think about later, later, later. Comfortable in the knowledge that they'll always be there when you need them. Until suddenly they're not!

You go to check out the schemes you'd been meaning to, only to find they've closed - places filled. Or there are some but only in the locations you don't want to live, or in the functions you can't get excited about. Now you're really having to seek them out too, you are no longer tripping over them. The employers have their eyes on the next graduate recruitment drive, or priority in their calendar. They're not on campus all of a sudden, or you aren't, and you suddenly feel a bit at sea.

If this is where you are now, final year or graduated and wondering if you've missed the boat, all is not lost at all. There are still graduate opportunities. The three stores I knew had the biggest quantity and range of eggs looked like they had been ransacked. But, a small store I know I can often count on, despite its size, continued to be well stocked with its smaller but still reasonable range. Ok, I paid a tiny bit more and if I'd had a specific egg in mind I might have missed out, but it was fine, and I wasn't too overwhelmed by choice. 

So, just keep calm, don't panic into choosing something you know you'll hate and revisit your job search strategy to make sure you are tapping into quality resources. Don't use directories and lists of employers published in the autumn of your final year, don't focus on what you've missed only what is still out there. Don't get depressed about the presentations and events you've missed just move to interacting with employers via social media, or through alumni contacts, or relevant online forums or events which happen in your target sector, rather than looking for them on a deserted campus.

Alternatively, perhaps this is serendipity, and you realise that there are other gifts perhaps preferable to a chocolate egg, or a chocolate anything! There are other ways into organisations (other than the graduate schemes), many organisations don't have graduate schemes, for instance smaller companies which just happen to be where most of the population work anyway.

Maybe the timing just wasn't right. You don't expire as a graduate, worst case scenario - the graduate opportunity you now realise you hunger for will come up again. Once you've left university you still qualify to take part in the mass graduate recruitment drives. Only this time you might be more certain it's for you and so more likely to get it too. Just as a chocolate gift at another time might be more appreciated.

Perhaps you could make your own personalised chocolate egg, I mean job opportunity. Within an organisation, perhaps starting as a volunteer, or working for yourself.

If you are not yet in the position of having avoided on campus opportunities and filtering out employer information, perhaps the coming autumn is your final year, then do give some thought to what you might select.

Don't be panicked by constantly thinking that you might miss the boat and don't go too far in the opposite direction applying for everything all over the place. Still ignore what you know isn't for you.

But perhaps don't ignore it all, just because you decide you aren't ready to think about graduation and the world of work yet. Take some time to reflect on flavours and ingredients you love. Maybe stop for the occasional conversation with a recruiter, look at some of the ingredients for some of the graduate schemes and maybe taste a few samples, or ask others if they're enjoying their first tastes of employment after graduation.


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