Exams are over, the summer lies ahead. But first, the reality check of graduate employment fairs.
If this sounds familiar, read on.
These fairs follow a fairly predictable pattern. Lots of national employers and a handful of regional ones, standing in a hall, waiting to promise the earth in order to capture the interest of would-be applicants. I recently attended such a university careers fair, and the same basic dialogue was in evidence to how I remember it twenty years ago.
“We’re great, we pay amazingly well, come and apply to us”
The concern for Bizenko is that the landscape hasn’t changed at all in 20 years. There are still people wandering around looking lost, still companies promising the earth (small print disclaimer – only to a select few successful candidates) and masses of disappointed individuals left in between. The only difference I could see in 20 years was the greater number of recruitment consultants in the room in 2014 compared to 1994. There seems to be no shortage of recruiters in the market place, and they are tailor made for these kind of fairs because their message fits perfectly with the enduring message (see above).
What I’ve learned as being the crucial missing ingredient in this dialogue is the explanation of “how will my career develop outside the narrow specialism you want to recruit against?” In other words, if you’re hired to be a recruitment consultant, what will you learn beyond “sales”.
I once asked for some legal advice from my best friend’s Dad. He explained that the vital thing to do before signing any contract (especially contracts that were inevitably in favour of the other party, like an employment contract) was to ensure you were clear how you could get out of the contract if you needed to, what condition you would be in, what you would be able to salvage from the experience if you had to.
My point is that an appealing recruitment message at a careers fair needs to be treated with caution. It’s all very well identifying with a big salary, but will five years in that job do you any good? Will you thereafter be pigeon-holed? (the modern recruitment industry doesn’t like people “changing lanes”, it makes life too hard for them, they can’t see how an accountant might want to be a marketeer). Or will the employer’s training be broad enough for you to change career direction? It’s unlikely many companies will train you beyond their requirements for you, so don’t be seduced be the marketing message alone.
Employers would say they only want people who are committed to that job, and that “of course” their training is broad, so there’s no harm done. But everyone knows that very few people retire from the first job or industry they join. Given the economic pressure, the priority for most students is to get employment, and thereafter worry about the long term details.
We also saw some parents walking around the careers fair with their children, desperately trying to help make sense of it all for their children. We overheard one awkward moment when a parent said to their son:
“What are you doing? You just seem to be milling around this hall with no direction. What do you want to do?”
I could see the student squirm with embarrassment and irritation, and the parent get more frustrated. But their reactions were those of the whole job-entry system. How can we expect individuals to make critical decisions when they are unlikely to know enough about the world they are applying to join. How can individuals plan a career when the only message they receive is a marketing message?
The system is madness. But here at Bizenko we’re here to offer a solution to the problem. We’ll help you understand and develop your own long term career plan in an impartial “warts-and-all” way, no marketing spin, no distraction about high salaries, just useful information to help you proceed.
And we’ll also offer a guarantee with it! If, after 12 months on our website (£60), having engaged with, and consumed our content, you’re not in a better position regarding your employability, we’ll refund your money.
If you’re interested, go to the registration page and find out more. We look forward to meeting you there, or at any of our seminar roadshow events.