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From Gap Year To Gainful Employment

20 Jul 2009

From Gap Year To Gainful Employment Despite the signs that the UK economy is beginning to stabilise, it’s widely believed that the graduate recruitment market is going to be tougher than ever this year. According to the Association of Graduate Recruiters, on average 48 candidates will compete for every graduate job this Summer.

Youth and education charity Raleigh has recently conducted a straw poll of leading graduate recruiters who work with the organisation. Raleigh found that, this year, almost 90% of recruiters will rely on candidates’ non academic achievements when deciding which applicants to put forward for highly-sought after graduate jobs.

“In this job market, evidence of soft skills and the ability to show how you can add value to an organisation are going to be more important than ever,” advised Raleigh’s chief executive Stacey Adams. “This can be really tough for new graduates when they don’t have much previous work experience – although all of the graduate recruiters that we work with tell us that a well constructed gap year is a great way to develop these soft skills.”

Raleigh has examined which non academic attributes graduate recruiters prize most highly. Communication skills, teamwork and adaptability were the skills that recruiters felt would be of most value to their company, with initiative and self-confidence also seen as important personal characteristics.

The survey also explored graduate recruiters’ attitudes towards the most constructive way that students can spend their gap year. Top of the list was undertaking relevant work experience or work in the UK – with 80% of graduate recruiters claiming that they would find that the most attractive attribute on a CV. Employers rated a Raleigh expedition as the second most constructive use of an applicant’s time (70%) – and believe that having Raleigh on your CV is even more valuable than UK based volunteering, individual overseas volunteering placements or gaining a new skill or qualification.

“It’s all about looking at ways that graduates can improve their chances in a crowded job market”, advised Adams. “And it’s worth remembering that if you are applying for graduate jobs now and think you are missing out because you lack these key soft skills, all is not lost. Leading employers endorse expedition experience, so why not take time out now to go on an overseas expedition and apply for the next graduate intake, with the benefit of new skills and self belief.”

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