How to solve a problem like the perception gap?

Whilst brushing my teeth this morning I was listening to the Today Programme on Radio 4 run yet another story about how many recent graduates are either unemployed, or in non-graduate level jobs.

As an aside, it’s always assumed that a graduate in a ‘non-graduate-level’ job is a failiure, nobody ever asks whether these people are happy where they are – maybe they’ve always dreamed of being a florist, or a gardener, or a care-worker.

Anyway, assuming that they want to be in a graduate level job, the discussion rarely goes towards why people are where they are, other than skills gaps (not enough people with Engineering, IT & Science degrees), and poorly prepared applications (broadcasters love stories of CV & application forms with mistakes in them) and I think there are probably 2 key reasons.

1 Many students wait until after they get a 2:1, or complete their Masters, before they really attack job hunting. They are therefore in the middle of the ‘milkround’ interviews when the surveys take place (around February) – i.e. they have made a conscious decision to delay the start of their career.  The way to redress this would be to delay the survey for at least 6 months, or repeat it a year later.

2 Most students and graduates apply to companies with big consumer brands, or industries deemed as sexy or prestigious, which means that the many companies outwith these categories are left with unfilled places at the end of their recruitment cycles.  So if you’re looking for a job at the moment I urge you look beyond the obvious, ignore what you friends are doing, and apply elsewhere.  If you need a hand deciding where then I’m sure that your careers adviser would be happy to help you broaden your horizons.

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