Saturday, 2 March 2013

Graduate recruitment: trainee vurglesplatters needed!

So, in a hilarious turn for the weird, in my new job one of my responsibilities in graduate recruitment.

“Do you know anything about graduate issues?” they asked me, and I sort of burbled a bit and then got afraid they'd seen my blog. (IF SO: HI GUYS.)

I actually really enjoy my job. People are still nice, I'm getting more responsibilities, I don't have horrible jaggy days where I hate myself and my job so much I just want to cry or burn down the office or possibly both. Okay, I still occasionally think 'Is this it?' and the Circle line is the bane of my life, but things are on the up.

My job has also opened my eyes about graduate recruitment. Now, I've actually been part of several recruitment drives before, and I've also a few years now of HR and employment law and all that stuff. All the things I've said previously remain valid. However, never before had I seen specific graduate recruitment. Sure, I've seen the other side of it as an applicant, but this is new to me.

And finally! it means I have something relevant for blogging about. My reflections on London, whilst fascinating to myself, are a wee bit off message, and a lot of the other stuff is difficult to write about in a sufficiently anonymous way.

So, for future reference, I work in a company that specialises in providing vurglesplat experts to the wider world. What's vurglesplat, you say. Well, bluntly, it's a small industry full of nerds and I'm not being specific. Crucially, I work in the HR department. The technological people may as well be doing vurglesplat for all I understand of it. It makes for an entertaining night at the pub, where they talk about their projects and then look at me expectedly.

Anyway, we are now looking for junior vurglesplatters. Vurglesplat is something you can study at uni in modules and in specific postgrad courses, and even if your interest is only peripheral then it's okay, because lots of training is provided. Good degree in something vaguely relevant – business! maths! IT! engineering! all elements towards vurglesplat! - and perhaps some work in the field, ish, and that's all we're asking.

Stupidly, I thought this would be easy.

Here are some of the reasons why graduate recruitment is harder than it needs to be.

1. Vurglesplatters are really, really bad at explaining their job. You have no idea how long it took to come up with a job advertisement. “No,” I had to keep on gently saying, “two years industry experience is not a reasonably request.”

2. Once that's done, have you ANY IDEA how terrible university job centre websites are? UNIMAGINABLY AWFUL that's what. As all sensible students and graduates now, they are a great resource for looking up jobs that are specifically hiring from their particular institution. I did hours of research about universities that offered vurglesplat and did a good course using similar vurglesplat theories. I looked up league tables. Careers Centre, I want to hire YOUR students. WHY OH WHY do you have websites that are nigh on impossible to use and why do you staff not reply to emails?

(Although I'd like to take a moment to big up my alma mater St Andrews for its swift response within 20 minutes to my query. Knew I could trust you, guys! Some other institutions, that will remain nameless, have stayed quiet for a WEEK now.)

In all seriousness, a job that should have taken perhaps an afternoon at best – simply uploaded a job specification to 25+ institutions, how hard can that be? - took me three days. I do have other work to do, you know.

3. Yes, yes, it's probably easier to advertise on Milkround and Prospects. They cost a lot of money, did you know that?

So, all of those things are an issue and a barrier between graduates and soon-to-be gradautes getting a job.

I can't talk much about the process, because it's only just got started. However, we have started to get some applications through. We don't have an application form with lots of silly questions, because no one wants to write it, bluntly. All we ask for is a CV. Here are The Disorientated Graduate's hints and tips to get through the screening process (i.e., er, me):

1. We are asking for people to be vurglesplatters. Sure, trainee vurglesplatters, but it's still a specific role. DO NOT tell me about how much you're enjoying training to be an English teacher. Seriously, though, did you even read the job specification? DO YOU KNOW HOW LONG IT TOOK TO UPLOAD IT TO YOUR INSTITUTION?

2. Grammar and spelling are your friend! So, it must be said, is a covering letter. They're not essential, but it's a good way of listing your 'soft skills'.

3. You may not have relevant industry experience. When I left uni, my industry experience was to be a cleaner, a care home assistant or a shop worker. So I sympathise with you, particularly if you have a good academic background and have passed the first two stages of my checklist. So, as a hint, turn your part time job into an example of how good you are at the world of work based on the job specification. Does the job want good time management? Well, you need that if you work in a shop because of the different tasks that need doing WHILST still being able to drop everything and serve a customer! Teamwork? Well, being a waiter involves being part of a chain of people involved in one single aim! Think outside of the box, a bit. Personally I'm deeply sympathetic but there's only so much I can to make other people look at your CV.

4. To return to point 1, seriously, do look at the job you're applying for though, yes? I am fed up of logging POINTLESS applications.

That's the only experience I have thus far. We've barely started shifting through applications, let alone interviewing and that. Still, it's interesting and also GOOD BLOG MATERIAL.

Now if you'll excuse me I have a stinking cold and need to return to curling up in a blanket.


  1. I recommend taking a look at the excellent and funny Ask A Manager blog for other good jobseeking advice, both for the jobseekers and those offering jobs.

  2. I recommend the Graduate Coach, where they gave me all the support to prepare my first interviews.