5 Reasons why you should enter the Higher Education Awards

You might be weighing up the pros and cons of spending the time to enter the gradireland Higher Education Awards but it’s definitely time well spent and we’ve put together five reasons why it makes sense to enter.


  1.       Marketing & PR

Awards may not spring to mind when thinking about marketing opportunities but just being short-listed can greatly enhance the awareness of your course and your institution as a progressive place to study. Being associated with awards can provide great PR opportunities to be recognised both nationally and internationally. Awards celebrate hard work and success and it is a great opportunity to put your course in the spotlight.

  1.     Third Party Endorsement

Winning an award or even being short-listed can act as a third party endorsement for your course and institution. Having your course judged and endorsed by an independent panel of respected leaders gives your institution increased credibility. Receiving an award acknowledges your excellence in a category and provides a distinct competitive advantage over rivals.

  1.  The Process –for now and for the future.

The application process will not only allow you to identify your successes but it can also highlight some areas that may need improvement when comparing yourself to the competition. Submitting an entry to the Higher Education Awards is also a good opportunity to really promote what your College or University does really well and also show how and where you’re looking to progress your institution in the near future.


  1.      Building team morale

Succeeding requires a team effort and an award gives recognition to your lecturers and department heads, recognising the invaluable contribution they make to your institution. This is invaluable in terms of boosting morale and bringing your team to the awards ceremony is a great way of celebrating your achievements as a team and also provides great networking opportunities.

  1.       Competitive Advantage

Winning an award not only provides a great sense of achievement, it also provides a competitive advantage going forward for your school or department, in terms of attracting new students and driving applications to a course. It can provide that distinguishing factor in a crowded marketplace and best of all, these awards are FREE to enter!

To find out more about the inaugural Higher Education Awards contact Ailbhe Lee on 01-6451500 or email ailbhe.lee@gradireland.com . Further details available at www.highereducationawards.com

6 ways to make the most out of the Graduate Careers Fair

Careers fairs are an amazing opportunity for students, graduates and young professionals to get the ‘inside scoop’ of a company, find out the opportunities they have available as well as the disciplines that they are interested in hiring in.

Preparation is key when it comes to careers fair, so we have put together some helpful tips for the day of the fair:

Use the Jobs Wall

There will be several jobs walls within the hall at the gradireland Graduate Careers Fair. These will have live graduate schemes and opportunities listed, use your phone and take a photo of any that you are interested in applying to – then go home, find the job, internship or graduate programme on gradireland.com and start applying!


Bring your CV

Many employers are happy to receive CVs at Careers Fairs. In addition, at the gradireland Graduate Careers Fair we will be running a specialist CV Clinic, hosted by careers advisors from your University providing over 50 hours of specialist advice, at which you can have your CV reviewed. However, a word of caution – the CV clinic has a limited number of slots and gets booked up very quickly, so get there early to book your appointment and don’t expect the advisors to write your CV for you – they are there to review and advise but you’ll have to do the hard work first yourself!



Make sure you have researched the exhibitors who are attending and decide beforehand which ones you would like to talk to. Think of questions which might not be answered already in brochures or on their websites. Many exhibitors bring recent graduates now working in their business to their stands, so ask them what life is really like in that company.


Attend the Seminars

Make sure you attend one or more of the specialist careers seminars – they are designed to give you the edge when it comes to applications and interviews! From Assessment Centres to Interview advice there is a seminar to benefit everyone.


Download the gradireland Events App

The brand new gradireland events app is your personal assistant for the Graduate Careers Fair. You can create a profile, directly contact employers, personalise your seminar schedule and much more! Download it from the App Store or Google Play now.

More information about the event can be found at www.graduatecareersfair.com

Not in final year? Four things that you may get the answer to by attending the Graduate Careers Fair

It’s not unusual for students who are not yet in final year to be unsure about attending the Graduate Careers Fair. You lucky souls are still out there enjoying college life and may not have thought a lot about careers or the future.  Well here are a few of the questions that you may get an answer to by attending this year’s Graduate Careers Fair:

Do I know what Career Path I would like to pursue?


This is one of the biggest, if not the biggest decision you will have to make before leaving college. There is so much to take into account, including the area you would like to work in, job prospects, the companies that are recruiting in your field, the locations of these companies and salary expectations. It is very difficult to find credible answers to these questions without speaking to the employers in person.

Over 120 employers are attending this year’s Graduate Career Fairfrom over 20 different sectors, with headquarters all around Ireland and Europe. This is the ultimate opportunity to meet these employers and ask them the essential questions you need to know, to get a better understanding of what it is you would like to do.

What do I need to get a job?


Putting together all the documents you need to land your dream job can be very daunting. Every employer has different criteria they look for when recruiting graduates, this requires tailoring your CV and cover Letter to each job you may apply to. CV Clinics are being held at the Graduate Career Fair with experts from Careers Services throughout Ireland. These experts will provide you with the advice you need to get that dream job! Keep in mind that many Graduate Programmes open for applications in September each year, meeting these CV Experts could put you ahead of the competition for next year’s applications.

Am I interested in doing an internship?


Internships are amazing opportunities to gain experience in a particular job or to find out about the culture of a particular company. Employers also take this essential experience into account when recruiting graduates, giving your CV an edge to get a job. Many of the employers attending the Graduate Careers Fair recruit students for internships and work placements. This is a great opportunity to network with these employers to see what internship opportunities they may have.

Am I thinking of doing a postgraduate course, in Ireland, the UK or beyond?


Finding the perfect postgraduate course to suit you is really important, whether in Ireland or the UK.  gradireland are hosting seminars  with industry experts at this year’s Graduate Careers Fair to discuss postgraduate studies. There is also a Further Study Zone on the day with more than twenty exhibitors, offering a wide range of postgraduate options and information.

The Graduate Careers Fairs has something for everyone, whether final year or first year. Register for free entry today at graduatecareersfair.com

Emotional Intelligence – the power behind enhanced performance

Attracting and retaining the best talent requires a different angle. Millennial graduates are looking to get as much out of an organisation in terms of development as the company gets out of them in terms of endeavour. And yet, clearly, graduates are by no means the finished product. Their biggest drawbacks lie in their ability to manage relationships in the workplace with maturity. This dichotomy has been cracked by some organisations in the way they manage their training. Zappos, Facebook and Google have all invested in significant initiatives to improve emotional intelligence in their employees. Organisations like Xerox, Opentext and UPS have focused on training their employees in performance under pressure. In doing so, these companies have become the envy of many in terms of attracting and retaining top talent.


Emotional Intelligence

A person’s Emotional intelligence (EI) and the resulting Emotional Quotient (EQ) has been widely proven to be the best measure of future success in the workplace. An employee’s EQ tells employers whether they can work collaboratively, the depth of their communication skills, their leadership potential, and even how well they’ll be able to learn from their mistakes. And yet, if we value it so highly, what are we doing to develop it in our graduates and in our workplace teams?

Last year I was lucky enough to spend a CPD week with The Navy Seals at their training base in San Diego. Their command Psychologist Ryan Maid explained to me how important EQ was for a really high level of performance as a Navy Seal. They admitted that they had made mistakes in the past. Previously, their selection process had only ever allowed for recruits to drop themselves out based on the extremely arduous training and selection process. In their own words, this sometimes produced guys who could simply take a beating better than the next guy. So they introduced EQ training in respect of challenging interactions. How else could they prepare their recruits in the best way possible and as part of a team?

EI Image

Performance Under Pressure 

The most powerful thing I learned, when visiting the elite rugby environment in New Zealand, was that focusing your attention on the things within your control and not the things that are outside of your control is one of the greatest things you can do for your own performance. Knowing the difference is key. A really powerful example of this came from one of the All Blacks players during the 2011 world cup. In that tournament, captain Richie McCaw played the knock out stage games with what later turned out to be a broken bone in his foot. McCaw had hurt his foot in the group stages but in the lead up to the tournament, he had devoted a huge amount of time to the concept of focus of attention as a foundation for his physical training. So after he heard the crack in that group stage match, he decided not to have it x rayed until after the tournament had ended. In all likelihood, any x ray would reveal a break. He had resolved that he could get through the knock out stages anyway. So why shift his attention onto the reasons why he could not.

What McCaw and his team mates had done was become self-aware of their thoughts and when they drifted into the negative. They did this with the help of a performance psychology technique. They became able to recognise these thoughts as being negative or Red Head, to accept them and consequently they were able to simply choose to move their focus back to the present, to a calmer more accessible Blue Head state by focusing on what they could control. I was lucky enough to see some of my colleagues from Gazing Performance in action when I visited those teams, and was blown away by the emphasis the coaches were placing on this concept, on their insistence that it was the “soft skills which delivered the hard skills”.

Over the course of the past year, I have seen first-hand just how valuable these soft skills of EQ and Performance Under Pressure actually are and how they can be adapted into programs for relationship management, for sales, for management, for leadership. Like many things in life, these are skills that can be acquired. As a new graduate or as part of a team, these are the skills that will separate the best performers from the rest and the best talent will inevitably gravitate to where they can get the best training.



Conor McCarthy is the Irish Partner with Gazing Performance Systems, a company best known for their Performance under Pressure work with The All Blacks prior to the 2011 Rugby World Cup. Gazing now work with graduates and teams of people in businesses all over the world to help them perform better under pressure. Conor has a BComm and a Masters in Applied Psychology (Coaching). In his work as a training and development consultant for Gazing, he has visited several elite performance environments. In this article, he explains the evidence base in support of employee training for performance under pressure training and emotional intelligence along with his experiences of watching these skills being developed at both the navy seals training base in California and in the elite rugby environments in New Zealand.

Twitter: @ConorMcCarthy


LGBT workplace equality – Realising the importance and value of diversity & inclusiveness in business

Guest blog: Catherine Vaughan, Director, EY

In Ireland and across the world; customers, suppliers and other business partners no longer make choices simply based on price. In recent years, shared values have become increasingly important when choosing who you do business with.  Whether you can identify and connect with the people and organisations you are working with is more than ever becoming a determining factor.  When a strong connection exists, real trust can be built, and in turn relationships develop naturally.

This is particularly true when choosing an employer. Just as customers, suppliers and business partners now make choices based on shared values, so do employees.

Multiracial Group of Friends with Hands in Stack, Teamwork

Undeniably, salary will always be a factor when deciding where to work, but more and more people are making choices based on softer factors including values, experience, development potential and opportunities. Opportunities and experiences are what inspire commitment to an organisation, and it is commitment that leads to innovation, productivity, growth and success – for the individual and for the organisation.

When considering how to attract and recruit the best talent, including graduates, organisations need to be clear about the opportunities and experiences on offer and the environment in which those experiences will be gained.  To win in the attraction space, an organisation needs to clearly articulate the vision of an employee experience.  For an organisation to win in the recruitment and retention space it needs to bring the vision to life.

Not so long ago, LGBT employees might not have expected to have the same experience as their straight colleagues and expectations of shared values and experience might have been lower.  At the very least, LGBT employees probably did not have the confidence to speak up and voice their expectations.

Times have changed however and the expectations and voices these days are pushing organisations to deliver on the vision, not only for LGBT employees but across the diversity spectrum – gender, age, culture, physical ability.

For organisations to be truly successful in achieving its vision for a positive employee experience, opportunities must be accessible to everyone. LGBT employees must be afforded the same respect, voice and experience as all of their peers. The perceived ability to speak up and share one’s ideas, to feel like part of the team, is critical to collaboration, an essential component to developing the products and solutions customers demand.

In Ireland there has been significant change in the understanding of employers about the importance of LGBT workplace equality, but there is always room for improvement. Change comes from both a top down and a bottom-up approach. Changing organisational culture requires buy-in from management, and leading by example is crucial. Similarly, engaging younger professionals, as well as staff across a range of different disciplines helps to ensure all corners of the business are addressed.

To really achieve diversity and act inclusively it is not enough to simply put ideals on a page, be that in a values statement, code of conduct or policy. What really makes the difference are the spoken words and actions of the people at the heart of the organisation itself.  After all, even in this highly automated, digital age, it is people who create organisational culture, define behavioural norms and in the end, who make the decisions.

At EY many actions and initiatives have been taken to realise the commitment to LGBT equality, below are some tips organisations might consider:

  • Engage with and train leadership – Regular meetings between LGBT staff and senior leadership help develop understanding of the LGBT workplace experience. Providing inclusive leadership training can be an invaluable way of raising the bar.
  • Find out how you measure up – gather independent feedback to understand how you are performing, to reflect on achievements and identify areas to focus on in the future. Initiatives such as the Workplace Equality Index are a great place to start.
  • Establish an employee network – since 2008 EY has had an employee network group. The group is led by a committee representing every part of the business and participation on the committee is recognised in annual plans and performance appraisals.  Committees give people experiences outside of their normal day-to-day role fast-tracking their development and success.
  • Take learnings from others – network with other employee network groups and sponsoring organisations to understand and learn from their best practices.
  • Support and sponsor the LGBT community – keep connected to what’s happening in the LGBT community to help understand your staff and to deliver your message on the value you place on workplace equality, diversity and inclusion.

Looking back at my own experience of entering professional services as a graduate, I am amazed at the change.  Had I been asked in 1995 to complete a survey I would have ticked the box “Out only to a few at work”; I certainly wouldn’t have ticked the box “Out to all at work” – the box I tick these days.  I am immensely proud to be part of an organisation that recognises my talent before my sexuality but which, at the same time, values my difference.

At a time when more graduates are choosing to stay in Ireland on completing their degrees, being able to offer them something other than salary to connect with can be the differentiator you need to attract and retain the best talent.

Catherine Vaughan, Director, EY



The Importance of Employer Branding in Graduate Recruitment

All companies should be aware of their brand identity and what it says about their organisation.

The demand for top talent in the Irish market is as aggressive as ever and more and more we are seeing this demand being highly specific to the employers’ needs. In most cases, employers assume that there is a vast pool of talent in the market waiting to be plucked from, but unfortunately this is not the reality.

Employer Branding

With resurgent confidence in the market, there is a lot of choice. Choice for the candidate to be a lot more considerate in their career choices, such as the route they want to direct their career and the type of organisation they want to join. If an organisation has a strong, positive reputation for being a great place to work, they are miles ahead of those that are looked upon less favourably in the market and if those messages are positive, a company will always have top talent available, waiting for the right opportunity to present itself.

In order to put your company ahead of the competition in terms of creating a strong positive organisation brand, it is essential that the company develop a brand strategy. Through our work with graduate employers in Ireland, gradireland have discovered that many companies do not have a working employer brand strategy in place. This means that while some of your competitors are developing and implementing a branding plan to help them become more attractive to the highly coveted graduate market, it also means many companies aren’t which presents you with an opportunity to get ahead of the pack.  So the key question here is how does an organisation devise a brand strategy to attract top talent?

Brand Awareness

Increasing an organisation’s overall brand awareness is key when it comes to employer branding. Brand awareness can be developed through a number of key actions.

  1. Online presence

In 2016, it is essential for employers to have a strong online presence to remain relevant to the graduate talent market. Millennials are plugged in and see embracing new technology as an integral aspect of a business moving forward. This online presence includes the use of digital tools, such as a dedicated graduate attraction website that defines your company brand, an active presence on social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, email marketing and visibility on credible websites such as www.gradireland.com that students and graduates are constantly using to research the options available to them.

  1. Word of Mouth

Positive ‘Word of mouth’ is crucial in today’s increasingly social world. Online social forums such as Inside Buzz make today’s workplace like an echo chamber. Potential candidates have the ability to find out about an organisation’s company culture before even stepping foot inside the building. Trying to control this message is one great way to expand your company’s brand and bring in the talented professionals you need to thrive.

  1. Use experts in employer marketing

Linking up with industry leaders in the employer branding market, giving them a clear and transparent view of your organisation, the talent you are seeking and current company culture will allow you to have a representative with an already existing online presence, out there speaking on your behalf and enhancing your reputation.

gradireland work with hundreds of leading graduate employers throughout Ireland, developing  employer brand strategies which use both online and offline marketing tools. Our team of marketing professionals consult with each individual employer to determine an employer branding strategy to suit each organisation. For more information about gradireland products and services contact our team on contact@gradireland.com or 01-6451500.

The importance of Diversity in graduate recruitment


Diversity in the workplace is a hot topic with a balance of ethnicity, age profile and gender often the outward expression.  It is well understood that the mix of different backgrounds and experiences can add tremendously to a company’s success.

In a way though, this is limiting; employers are now becoming increasingly open to pursuing more intellectual and cognitive diversity as well as just a demographic blend. Due to a focus on developing strong brand identities, employers have put an over-emphasis on cultural fit to determine the candidate who will ultimately land a job. This can sometimes inadvertently lead to a shortage of intellectual diversity and homogeneity of personality. Leading graduate employers are now implementing strategies to ensure a more intellectually diverse workforce. They are not just looking for different backgrounds but differing viewpoints. It is sometimes in passionate disagreement that the most creative ideas are born.

For Millennials, their concern about a more diverse and inclusive society unequivocally extends to the workplace. Companies must embrace all types of workplace diversity in order to attract the attention of the valuable Millennial talent pool. So what are the major benefits of including workplace diversity as part of your company’s recruitment process?

Through our team’s extensive work with leading graduate recruiters, it is evident that companies who employ a more intellectually and demographically diverse workforce are more innovative and dynamic than those that don’t. Employees from varied backgrounds are more likely to offer diverse solutions to intractable problems. For this reason alone, forward-thinking companies should work to achieve diversity in the workplace as it has proven to allow for a creative work environment, filled with dynamic ideas and solutions that can drive innovation in a much more effective way.

Companies must also communicate effectively with prospective employees that they are diverse, and that they value diversity as much as the Millennials they hope to attract. The best way companies can do this is by constructing and implementing a robust and intelligent employer branding strategy. Such a strategy provides the best chance that the talent they hope to attract will get the message, join their companies and contribute their expertise to a creative and successful organisation.

When designing a brand strategy to attract Millennials, employers must think about all types of diversity, both demographic and intellectual. By doing this, they will ensure a more overall diverse workplace, encompassing a range of different viewpoints.

On the 27th of April, gradireland will host its annual Graduate Recruitment Awards at Dublin’s Mansion House and the following companies are nominated for the gradireland Diversity Recruitment Award sponsored by AHEAD: