Top graduate job-hunting tips of 2011: a review

Merry Christmas from gradireland!

We’ve spoken to hundreds of Irish students and graduates at various stages of the graduate job hunt over the past 12 months about their career aspirations, ambitions and experiences. As the year draws to a close, we take a look at the issues and observations that have mattered the most in 2011.

Overwhelmingly, the significance of relevant work placements/internships was of paramount concern to graduate jobseekers across virtually all sectors:

  • ‘An internship can be a great way to differentiate yourself from your peers while also allowing you to sample a job you are interested in’. (Corporate Finance Trainee, Financial Services)
  • ‘Take every opportunity to do a placement year – it’s the perfect chance to try out a company and find out what suits you.’ (Graduate Engineer)
  • ‘Don’t just stick to law firm internships – demonstrate commercial awareness by taking placements in banks and businesses too.’ (Trainee Solicitor).

But it wasn’t all about work experience. Graduates had plenty to say in relation to job applications, the dreaded job interview, and how to get ahead at work:

  • ‘Don’t rush into half-hearted job applications; spending time developing an effective CV and covering letter will improve your chances no end.’ (R&D Food Scientist)
  • ‘Interview early and often. I don’t know if I would have been as successful in the interview process here had I not had prior experience elsewhere’. (Software Development Engineer in Test)
  • ‘Get yourself a mentor. Being able to learn from experience and through others is vital.’ (Quality Assurance Lead).

At a time when funding for fourth-level study is being squeezed, deciding whether or not to pursue postgraduate education has become tougher than ever. Postgraduates of 2011 offer valuable advice:

  • ‘Put a lot of thought into further study and make a mature decision; you have to enjoy your research topic because you’re in it for the long run.’ (MEng, Waterford Institute of Technology)
  • ‘It’s important to have a strong, supportive network of people around you – other researchers and staff – as no one can achieve a PhD by themselves. Your research community and support network is vital and enriching.’ (Structured PhD, Tyndall National Institute, UCC)
  • ‘Check the credentials of the staff and departments you are interested in. What journals are they published in? What kind of research do they conduct? What reputation do they have?’ (MSc, Bangor University).

Whichever direction 2011 has taken you, all of us at gradireland wish you a very happy Christmas. We’ll be back in the New Year to help you make the most of 2012.

Global graduates for a shrinking world

globeIt’s pretty obvious that the job market for graduates is becoming increasingly global, driven by three major factors. One is the growth of international businesses across frontiers, the second is the perceived need for graduates in recession-suffering countries to leave their country of birth in pursuit of opportunities elsewhere, and the third is the fact that there is a demand from global businesses to develop a truly multinational and multicultural workforce.

This emerging global graduate job market has thrown up a set of ‘global competences’ that people need to develop in order to thrive in demanding international businesses far from home. These competences have been identified in a new report by the Council of Industry and Higher Education (CIHE) and the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) as:

  • the ability to work collaboratively with teams from different backgrounds and countries
  • excellent communication skills
  • a high degree of drive and resilience
  • the ability to embrace multiple perspectives and challenge thinking
  • multi-cultural learning agility and
  • an ability to form professional, global networks.

Interestingly, the need to speak several languages, though considered a good thing (obviously), is near the bottom of the list. This is probably to do with the convenient fact that English is the language of international business (thank God). The report also identifies the need for aspiring global graduates to be knowledgeable and interested in world affairs.

This is a UK report, based on surveys with international organisations, and concludes that too few UK nationals are gaining the kind of international experience and developing the right competences that could give them a head start in the new global jobs market. So this is conceivably an opportunity for Irish graduates to seize such opportunities, as I think it’s fair to say that we’re talking here of a body of people who have a more international outlook than their counterparts in the UK and are more geographically flexible. The Irish diaspora is already global but this report identifies an increasing need for talented recent graduates to play their part in building modern international businesses.

More details at: