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Ask James Caan – Issue 81

Written by Kimberley Startup | February 1, 2012 | 0 Comments


James Caan Online RecruitmentDear Member,

Last week’s debate on transferrable skills certainly proposed a number of questions, and I was pleased to see the advice shared by the group. So thank you, Amanda, for sending in your question and raising something people feel very strongly about.

January has been a busy month for the group, where we’ve covered everything from issues facing older workers and CV workshops, to securing promotions. Please do keep sending your questions in to really maximise the potential this group has to offer.

This week, it’s the graduates’ turn. The Telegraph recently reported that one third of companies are struggling to recruit skilled graduates ( – despite record numbers of them searching for jobs. So why has this mismatch occurred? And what can graduates do to get their foot in the door?

Take Zuber, for example. Zuber, a civil engineering graduate, has been working for a large contractor and chose to leave as he didn’t get the opportunity to use his engineering skills.

He writes:

‘I worked as a technical admin, materials manager and assistant office manager. However I never got the opportunity to use my engineering skills, I held many discussions with my manager but it was to no avail. Therefore I made the hard decision to leave’

‘How do I get myself back on track? Where do I start to look?

Zuber, your letter demonstrates a real desire to make it in your chosen career. Whilst it must have been a very hard decision to leave your job, you recognised early on that it wasn’t setting you on the right career path. It’s now down to you and what you do in this time off that will ultimately re-set your journey.

You don’t need me to tell you that you’re searching for a job in a harsh climate. The increasing number of graduates means competition will intensify, so you need to act quickly.

The first stage is to identify your selling points. Just imagine an interview scenario – what makes you better than the ten other applicants?

Hiring managers are looking for people with practical experience as well as academic achievements. Whilst competition for graduate employment is sky high, you’re in a fortunate position to have studied a discipline that will always be in demand. What’s more, you already have some relevant industry experience under your belt, giving you the edge.

I often advise graduates in a similar situation to note down their top ten companies they’d like to work for and make contact. Look at the kind of industry they operate within, what salaries are on offer and what career paths may be available – a quick look on their careers page or a visit to their LinkedIn profile should provide you with an insight.

Increased online activity is crucial, but I also think you need to look at what you’re doing offline to really capitalise on any lead. Make contact with local engineering firms to see what skills are needed in your industry. Don’t see a role and fire off your CV – engage with people, make conversation and start finding a need to fill.

Also, think about the skills and experience you have gathered in your last role that can be used in your career as an engineer. For example, as a technical administrator, you will have learned how to communicate complex technical subjects to non-technical people. Your experience as a materials manager will no doubt help you to negotiate and work with suppliers.



P.S. webrecruit is recruiting! If you’re a recruitment consultant looking for a challenge – take a look at our latest recruitment video for more details:

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