We are constantly told that there are too few jobs and too many university graduates. Worryingly the press might be right. According to a 2013 study by the Office for National Statistics, 47 per cent of employed workers who left university within the last five years were performing roles which do not require higher education qualifications.
That’s a bit miserable isn’t it? The employers are to blame. The economy is falling fast. Everything is on an uncontrollable downward spiral and my club Oxford United are destined for another season of monotonous football and mid-table mediocrity. It’s all very depressing.
Could it get any worse? As someone who has successfully developed a career since university, so far as I can tell this simply isn’t true. It just isn’t. Aside from Oxford United obviously, the wheels are already in motion on that one.
Where I live in Oxfordshire; commonly graduates leave university, arrive home and recognise the market is not as buoyant as they had first imagined. Last week I spoke to a 2013 graduate about his career options. He was very dismissive and inexplicably disheartened by the whole process. He had virtually given up hope of landing his dream job because it’s awfully tough to find a graduate job when nobody is willing to gamble on a fresh graduate with an excellent degree. Whilst this is a widely held belief it is not a belief that I share. Unfortunately his approach, like others was to apply to the daddy of them all. He had applied for a position at one of the largest firms in the world; Goldman Sachs. But because Goldman Sachs said no, universally this meant that no one was recruiting, even now. He also told all his friends who will now tell you the same thing, many of those didn’t apply anywhere.
I recognise the media do very little to fuel our realistic ambitions, the stats and the reports are damning. For the unschooled, beady eyed graduate with a 2:1 in Business Studies, the next big job paying £25,000 must be just around the corner. Unfortunately an entry-level position for 99% of graduates will not meet those expectations, yet.
So what can be done? Foremost I accept universities across the board don’t do enough however a lot of the responsibility does lie with the graduate. If I were a recent graduate today I would be doing one of two things, maybe even both. Number one, speak to the right people. The likelihood is your CV isn’t very good. Seek help, advise from career experts particularly in your field and ensure that you sell yourself accordingly (hit the phones too). If you can’t make 50 calls a day, for one month to prospective employers within your field you aren’t looking. Secondly if you are looking for work but you can’t find a job, create your own. Set up a business, register as a sole trader and obtain your own experience. There really is no excuse for a lack of experience if you haven’t even tried.