Career Management

Finding a good graduate training programme can get your career off to a flying start. Graduate recruitment programmes are becoming increasingly popular across a variety of industries. Previously, this post-degree job opportunity was most commonly associated with the financial industry and big multi-national organisations. Now, a wider variety of businesses, including many SMEs, are offering graduate training to attract high calibre, ambitious young professionals into their organisation.

But why should university leavers consider applying for these types of roles? And, with the number of schemes increasing, how can you spot a good programme to apply for?

Supported transition from university to the workplace

You may already have plenty of work experience, whether it’s from part-time jobs or work placements completed as part of your degree. That doesn’t stop it feeling a little daunting to go from being a full time student to a full time employee. Good graduate training programmes are specifically designed for university leavers and are structured to help provide valuable support and skills needed to build your confidence in the workplace.

Help to decide your chosen career path

It’s not unusual to be unsure about what career path you would like to take. Many graduate training programmes don’t specify the nature of the degree required because so many of the skills learnt at university are transferable. Looking at graduate training jobs, and the career progression opportunities they set out, can really help you to narrow down your areas of interest. You may even find something which you had never considered before. Many schemes also provide the opportunity to work across several different areas of the business, so you can really discover where your particular skills fit.

Continued professional development

Graduate training programmes often provide the opportunity to study for further professional qualifications through on the job training. This means you not only get the chance to put the skills you’ve already learnt through your degree into practice, you can also develop and channel them with further qualifications to suit the particular career path you have chosen.

How to spot a good graduate training programme

It’s really worth spending time and effort when researching potential graduate schemes available. The opportunities with the big named companies may be the first to come up on an internet search but the bulk of graduate vacancies are now within SMEs. Research also shows that smaller companies tend to attract fewer applications, so although it is still likely to be very competitive, your chances of securing the role could be increased. The graduate schemes offered by SMEs are just as valuable and can some cases can provide even more development opportunities. Working in a smaller environment often provides the chance to gain more experience and to be given more responsibility. When searching for potential roles, look out for clues that it is an organisation you would genuinely like to work for, and one which is going to provide the support you would hope to find in a dedicated graduate programme.

Clear development plan

A good graduate programme will provide clear progression opportunities through ongoing training and the chance to get involved with a variety of different projects. It should clearly state if there is a permanent job opportunity at the end of the programme for those who have shown the right skills and aptitude, and demonstrate the path you will need to take to secure this specific job role.

Long term support

Organisations should be committed to supporting graduate trainees to achieve their goals and to build a long term career with them. Look for roles which clearly state the support you will be given throughout, from regular meetings through to a dedicated mentor.

Award winning companies

Research shows that many graduates are drawn to a company because of its culture just as much as the career opportunity itself. People want to work where they will be happy, supported, rewarded and motivated. A good way to gauge what a company may be like to work for is to look for any accolades which show they have a proven commitment to their staff, such as Investors in People or Best Employer awards.

When it comes to applying for a graduate recruitment programme, make sure you spend time creating an application dedicated to that role. If you are lucky enough to have found several opportunities you are interested in, resist the temptation to speed up the process by copying and pasting information across. Investing time and effort in tailoring your application will increase your chances of being selected for an interview.

About Gill Buchanan

Gill is a founding Director of Pure Resourcing Solutions has worked in the recruitment field since 1988. Gill’s experience is broad based and includes eight years of specialist recruitment experience within an international specialist recruitment company including five years working within financial services recruitment in Sydney, Australia.

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