05 June 2014 03:36 PM

The Retail Myth

This is a guest post from the founders of the Graduate Retail Fair. Take it away guys:

The Retail Industry is often tarred with narrow and unfair stereotypes. Something that’s addressed well by CareerPlayer in their graduate retail industry film. A rewarding route to follow, it may surprise those entering the world of work at how broad and enterprising retail can be if taken as a career. Charles Cox, a graduate employed in Event Management and In-Store Marketing at Sainsbury’s, emphasises that in his day to day activities ‘no event will take exactly the same path’. This is a microcosm of the entire Retail Industry, an industry with countless branches, of which Event Management and In-Store Marketing is but one; and where flexibility is a must. The opportunities to find your niche on such a broad spectrum are plentiful - there are up to 18 different graduate programmes offered by some major retailers. Every opportunity within retail offers autonomy within a role that is ultimately decision making; and any entrant into the industry can be assured that they will be immediately handed a high level of responsibility. Across any career in retail, planning for weeks and months in advance is integral. This is a component of an industry that is inherently progressive, one untouched by boredom and stasis; one in which opportunity for advancement is rife.

Often overlooked by those unaccustomed to retail is its influence on a national and even international scale. When detailing his role as a Store Manager for Marks and Spencer, Lee Reed mentions that ‘It’s not just about your store sometimes, it can be about wider business issues and it can be about wider regional issues throughout regions you work in’. Retail has an incredibly overarching impact on business and the local community that greatly exceeds most other professions - if you want to effect discernible change on both of these levels, then retail could be the answer for you. Due to the diverse nature of roles offered within retail, don’t feel that you’re limited by your degree specificity – if you’re studying retail, great, but students across many disparate disciplines are sought out by retailers.

Entering a graduate programme with a major retailer offers a clear and vertical career progression, but sometimes that isn’t always the answer for candidates that desire more choice once placed in a role. Alex Williams, a Brand Manager at Sainsbury’s, gives an example of this malleability, suggesting that a graduate who started in customer and marketing ‘could opt for a couple of years in trading’, which would give them a ‘broader more commercial backing’, enabling them to then return to customer and marketing and move up a rung on the ladder. This represents another major advantage of pursuing a retailing career, the scope for moving around within a grade to find a role that suits you, in the object of advancing linearly in a previous role, or merely to find a better fit for your skills, is one unparalleled in most other industries. One main reason why so many applications fall at the first hurdle is because of a failure to properly research the company. Before approaching the process, take time to examine industry sources (such as The Grocer magazine) as well as the companies you’re applying for.

We understand how difficult and daunting it can be for graduates wanting to enter the industry; and this is where we come in. The Graduate Retail Fair on Wednesday the 22nd of October in the Rose Bowl at Leeds University is the perfect arena to explore these possibilities, with many major retailers in attendance, including Marks and Spencer, John Lewis Partnership, Arcadia and Asda. Students from all degree disciplines and institutions are welcome at the fair. With opportunities in event management, buying and merchandising, food and nutrition, marketing, management, logistics, IT, HR and many more; a comprehensive spread of skills are required. If you desire employment within a field that is exciting, ever-changing and unpredictable then the Retail Sector and the Graduate Retail Fair are tailored exactly for you.

It’s not just the Retailers themselves that you’ll be able to get to grips with, the Graduate Retail Fair will help you get accustomed to the stringent application processes of graduate programmes from start to finish. At the Graduate Retail Fair, if a particular employer catches your eye; booking an Employer Clinic is the way to go. A close quarters meeting with the retailer of your choice, you will be able to better assess the tone of the company to see if it aligns with your ideals. When progressing to interview stage at a major retailer, the Assistant Vice President of Enterprise Rent-A-Car Ben Lawson offers sage advice ‘as we look to whether you’re going to be suitable for us, you really need to be interviewing us to see whether we’re going to be suitable for you’. This active curiosity you need to take in a prospective employer in retail should start well before the interview stage – the Employer Clinic offers the perfect platform to engage this curiosity.  

For more information on the Graduate Retail Fair, please visit www.retailgraduatefair.co.uk. Attendance is free and you can register your attendance via the website, which has detailed information on location and transport, like National Retail Graduate Careers Fair on Facebook or follow @GradRetFair on Twitter for further information.

All of the people quoted in this article can be found on CareerPlayer's Graduate Retail Careers page.

Guest Post by Sophie Adams, Simon Pollard & Greg Davis
Smart Resourcing Solutions Ltd

14 August 2013 12:00 AM

Association of Graduate Recruiters 2013 Conference Video

Every year the biggest names in graduate recruitment come together for the most prestigious industry event in Europe.

Taking place over three days, recruiters, Universities and other interested stakeholders network, discuss and share best practice. It's a great event and we were there to film what goes on - watch the video below to find out...

17 January 2013 10:26 AM

Dos and Don'ts for getting on with your parents during uni holidays...

So, the Christmas holidays are over, and If you're anything like most graduates these days, you'll have spent them at the Hotel of Mum and Dad. For many this will have been your first trip back home since they dropped you off at the beginning of freshers' week.

The first visit home can be a bit of a shock to the system for both parents and students - suddenly you're swept from your newfound independence back into a world of folded towels and having to phone home if you're out past 10pm, while your parents are confronted with an adult version of their darling child, who's no longer willing to account for their every move and may have picked up new and different views on life. Cue a few fraught weeks of arguing over milk, cleaning rotas and whose turn it is in the shower - think life in halls but with added parent-child angst. So, if you've had a few clashes with the family, here's a few things to bear in mind for future trips back home - or for when you have to move back in after graduating!

> Be gracious - remember that it's your parents' house, after all! Offer to cook a meal, wash up, entertain Grandma or walk the dog.

> Prepare yourself for a different atmosphere from the one you remember - you may feel very different since moving away, but chances are your parents won't have caught up with this yet. Patience will go a long way!

> Spend time catching up with friends from your hometown - share tips on how to survive! Plus, some time away from your family will make the holidays more enjoyable for everyone.

> Acknowledge how your parents and younger siblings are feeling, and be prepared to compromise on the small stuff. If your dad gets annoyed about people leaving dirty dishes unwashed overnight, is it really going to kill you to do it his way for a few weeks?

> Use the holidays to do a bit of graduate career research

> Allow yourself to be pushed into a 'child' role again - although this might make your parents feel more comfortable in the short term, it's not conducive to a positive long term adult relationship with them.

> Revert to teenage sulking if conflict arises - you'll just sabotage your chance to show your parents that you're a mature, reasonable adult.

> Assume that because you've been to university for a few months and have taken a couple of debating classes, you are now in a position to be dismissive of your parents' religion, life choices, political affiliations or stance on the EU. Constructive discussion, yes. Hectoring, no!

> Get stroppy with them when they offer unsolicited advice. Of course, this is easier said than done - you may have the type of parent who wants to help you find your feet by asking 'helpful' questions like "Have you tried searching for a graduate job on the internet yet?" Grin, bear it and remember that in a matter of weeks you'll be back to the wonderful world of parties, cheap vodka and a diet of super noodles - so enjoy that home cooking while it lasts!

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11 January 2013 10:12 AM

Do graduate job-hunting stunts work?

A 24 year old unemployed graduate has recently made the news by hiring a billboard in London to promote his video CV – and he’s not the first by any means. As grads feel the pinch, we’ve seen cases of ‘Hire me’ messages scrawled on mortarboards, roadside hoardings, and countless ‘clever’ job applications. We’re all told that we need to ‘stand out’ when making graduate job applications, but just how far is too far?

- Intelligent, no-nonsense written and spoken communication
- Individuality tempered by a sense of professional decorum
- An appropriate sense of humour
- An accessible online portfolio
- An awareness of the culture of the industry you’re applying for – creative flights of fancy will go down a lot better at an ad agency than at an accounting firm
- Avoiding coming across as either desperate or cocky – confident competence is the name of the game
- Having a presence on LinkedIn
- Getting peoples’ names right!

Less good…
- Trying too hard to be witty – this can be interpreted as an attempt to cover up less-than-stellar grades, poor experience or a lack of commitment to the industry
- Going for style over substance – think about what can you actually bring to the business and why that’s worth hiring, not just what you think the employer wants to see
- Trying these techniques in the wrong industries. For example, the guy mentioned above, who hired a billboard, is looking for a job in TV production. However, his tactics would be far more likely to impress someone looking for advertising or marketing talent. TV production teams tend to be a practical, behind-the-scenes bunch – they have to be in order to get the creative stuff done and let the ‘talent’ shine. And the job he states that he’s aiming for – junior producer – isn’t actually a job title that exists in TV production. It may seem harsh to nitpick, but it really doesn’t look good to prospective employers in the TV industry – imagine if a law graduate turned up for an interview and didn’t seem to know the difference between a barrister and a solicitor?

What were you thinking…?
Anything that could be remotely construed as stalkerish. Gifts, repeated unsolicited messages or workplace visits to people you don’t know is weird, and the fact that you want a job from them doesn’t suddenly make it ok! If any of your self-promotion ideas have even a whiff of ‘restraining order’ about them, think again.

One of the problems noticeable in a lot of new graduates (as evidenced by Mr Billboard) is the tendency to mash ‘media jobs’ together as if they were one conglomerate. Saying ‘I want to work in media’ is about as meaningless as saying ‘I want to work in an office’ – the obvious question any prospective employer will ask is ‘Yes, but doing what exactly?’ 

If you’re interested in a job in advertising, marketing or PR, a very cleverly executed ‘original’ approach might very occasionally pay off because it shows you’re happy to take risks, drum up publicity and use social media to your advantage – all of which are pretty handy job skills in these areas. But if you’re interested in working in any other creative industry, the best way to get a job is to be better at what you do than most other applicants. Not better qualified, not louder, not more personable, not a harder worker – just better. Whether your creative outlet of choice is writing, programming, filmmaking, graphics, costume designing or video editing, the harsh truth is that you need to be really, really good at what you do. Your portfolio needs to shine. You need to have talent, realism, aptitude, vocation, passion – ‘Well, that sounds quite fun and glamourous’ isn’t going to get you anywhere. Jobs in creative industries are as rare as hen’s teeth and don’t tend to pay well, but if you’re (honestly) as good as you think you are, you’ll get a foot in the door at some point without resorting to gimmicks.

Find out more about careers in TV

Find out more about careers in advertising and PR

Find out more about publishing careers

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09 November 2012 08:35 AM

Guest Post: New Courses Prepare Students for Cruise and Maritime Industry Employment

With the recent announcements for completion dates of not one but two specialist business training schools, the tide is turning for maritime employment education in the UK. While traditional routes are still going strong, alternative possibilities are being raised which train students to work in a business environment, tailoring their education for the end goal of finding employment. Southampton City College will sponsor and host a programme known as the 'Studio School' from September 2013, with the backing of the Associated British Ports, Southampton University Hospitals Trust and Southampton City Council amongst others. The aim of the school is train students in the usual educational qualifications alongside experience of business, focusing heavily on the marine, port and cruise industry.

Southampton City Colleges’ Helen Mason commented: “Our able and motivated students will spend time in the workplace, studying all year round and for longer days. Our focus will be the marine and cruise specialisms to meet the job opportunities of the next five to ten years.”

Adding to this new wave of training, in 2014 Whitfield will see the completion of its new survival centre and maritime training academy, projects with construction costs of an estimated at £6.5 million. The training offered there is not only for younger students but also for graduates with an interest in maritime employment and those needing to recertify to comply with legalisation in the marine industry.

The creation of these schools will not only see young people trained for a growing industry, clear on the path they need to take to become employable but also provide thousands of jobs in construction as well as teaching roles in the schools open to graduates. The roles available onboard the cruise ships and in the ports will highlight the range of choice.

The cruise industry is a sector set to grow as consumer demand is ever increasing. The Passenger Shipping Association recently reported that the industry provides jobs for more than 63,000 people in the UK alone. Working on a cruise does not necessarily require you to have maritime skills. Cruise lines recruit graduates and undergraduates for diverse roles including florists, tailors, chefs and sports professionals. The value of working on a cruise is not only stable employment but also include a host of opportunities to see the wider world. Visiting cruise provider
www.cruise1st.co.uk will highlight the myriad possibilities of seeing some of the world’s most desirable cruising destinations.

If you are interested in training for the marine sector and can’t wait for the emergence of new specialised schools, there are a number of ways to train. Universities already offer a number of courses, such as cruise industry management at Solent University, which is fully recognised and well-regarded by the cruise industry. One of the cruise lines available at Cruise 1st, Carnival UK, backs the course on its website, saying: "The BA (Hons) Cruise Industry Management is a fantastic idea, particularly due to the growth of the cruise market within the UK and abroad.” Carnival UK is also one of many cruise lines offering cadet programmes to help trainees gain valuable experience and train in the cruise industry. The training goes towards recognised qualifications, fees are paid, and a salary is provided.

17 October 2012 02:58 PM

Guest Post: Christmas Comes Early for Job Seekers


With only two pay days to go until Christmas, the season to be jolly seems to start earlier and earlier each year. The race for Christmas recruitment is now on, so if you're a graduate or a student and you haven’t considered a Christmas job before, maybe now is the time.
 Restaurants and clubs are already taking bookings for the all-important period, with many reporting 50% occupancy. Supermarkets have set up their Christmas aisles and shops are making space for Christmas gifts, with Twitter reports of the first sightings of festive sparkle in Tesco on the 29th August!

You may say Christmas isn’t truly here until that Coca Cola advert comes on, but the rest of Britain seems to have a head start. There are planty of temporary jobs suited to graduates and students at Christmas, and fortunately they aren’t limited to dressing up as Santa Claus and his elves. The Christmas recruitment drive is a trend widely reported across the UK, with large retailers announcing large numbers of newly-created jobs. Job growth is already up from this time last year, with Christmas set to increase further job opportunities. And it's not just the retail sector that gets merry at this time of year -  IT recruitment is also reporting a significant growth of 11% in September, including roles such as management, human resources and computing. Even if you’re looking for a 'proper' job, don’t be too quick to dismiss the idea of a temporary Christmas role, as these opportunities may be a way to get your foot in the door of a major organisation.

Businesses including Amazon and Sainsbury's have reported a number of new vacancies (2,000 and 15,000 respectively). Managers within these companies have been quick to add that many of the jobs can become permanent, and they look to the temporary employees when looking to fulfil permanent roles. Catherine McDermott, director of operations at Amazon.co.uk, says: “On our busiest shopping day last Christmas, we saw customers order a total of three million items during one 24-hour period at a rate of 35 items every second. We are a growing company - and when we have permanent positions to fill, it’s the top performing temporary employees that we look to.” Sainsbury's customer service and colleague director, Gwyn Burr, adds: “People can develop their career with us and progress relatively rapidly, to run a team, a department or a store. In fact, many of the colleagues who started with us at Christmas are now in charge of large teams and budgets, helping to drive sales and deliver great service.” David Cameron commented: "This is great news - not only for those individuals who will find work, but for the UK economy. This shows that the UK has the infrastructure and talent to continue to attract major investments from leading companies such as Amazon."

A temparay or part-time job can be a good way to get your foot in the door and earn some much-needed cash - and not just at Christmas. In these economically tough times, many businesses are offering more temporary and part-time jobs. One concern for potential employees can be how this affects their pay long-term, and how to organise their finances. With the rise of the 'portfolio career', many recent graduates, especially, have a finger in several pies when it comes to employment! Many sites offer a salary checker which can be a useful tool to help guide whether a combination of part-time roles or moving between contracts may be worth considering.


06 September 2012 09:09 AM

Guest post: Cybersecurity Sector Seen as Secure Employer for Graduates


With the continuing instability of many key UK employment sectors, a sure thing is hard to find. However, cybersecurity has been heralded as an extremely secure career option for graduates with the right skills to offer.

Thanks to the rising demand for online security services and the relative scarcity of qualified candidates, the genuine difficulty faced by many job hunting graduates of ‘too much competition, too few openings’ doesn't apply in this dynamic employment sector. Both private sector and government institutions need the services of hundreds more experts in the near future to combat the rising tide of cyber-related attacks, as well as the more mundane annoyances of low-tech spammers that plague today’s internet.

While the majority of the cybersecurity industry creates tech support jobs that deal with the daily countering of these low-tech nuisances, at the other end of the scale experts are needed to fend off more sophisticated cyber-attacks. These can take the form of defrauding attacks designed to steal or misappropriate capital, or in more deadly instances they can target critical digital infrastructure that can cripple power grids or banking systems with impunity.

Cyber-related attacks are a global threat with a cost to the British Government that not even the most well-informed experts can agree on, but it certainly runs into billions of pounds every year. While the demand for cybersecurity is there, the supply doesn’t measure up to it. Edwin Kanerva, Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton, recently said: “It’s tough going out there. Every company is looking for the same thing. There’s just not enough of them. The gene pool is small.”

Given the job security and relatively high salary that a cybersecurity expert can expect to enjoy, the number of new graduates who are entering the field remains disproportionally low. Perhaps the most obvious reason for this 'small gene pool' of employable graduates in this field is the fact that students who study computer science are being lured away by the bright lights of computer engineering or software development.

The most exciting tech companies, who have Silicon Valley headquarters and a large presence in the UK, are proving to be too much of an attraction to eager young graduates with computer science degrees. The large salaries and inherent coolness of innovative tech companies means that careers with Google, Microsoft and Oracle are highly sought after, drawing computer studies graduates away from online security firms and government departments. These tech giants are also increasingly reaching out to pluck potential candidates from the graduate pool to employ them in Java jobs, as the programming language has come under fire recently for its supposed security issues.

While software development jobs with this kind of employer may be an attractive option, graduates with computer related qualifications should certainly consider the variety of excellent employers looking for cybersecurity experts. The generous salaries, job security and relatively lower levels of competition make it an excellent employment sector.

Image Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/umdnews/5257657315/

23 July 2012 08:58 AM

So you don't fancy working in the City. Now what?

You're on your way to top marks in your degree, you're a well-rounded student, you're a grad scheme recruiter's dream...but you just don't feel like following the herd. Sound familiar?

If you'd rather poke your own eyes out with a biro than work for a big corporate firm, why not consider a career in the Charity and Not-For-Profit sectors? No, you probably won't make millions, but if you're still reading this, we're guessing you're not into all that anyway, hmm?

We've done the hard work for you by interviewing everyone from Marketing Mangers to Volunteer Coordinators - to get you started, here's a quick overview video. It includes advice from employers and experts on everything you could ever want to know about landing a fulfilling charity job.

Find out more CLICK HERE

Sue Bishop Action Aid


16 July 2012 11:16 AM

Dinner jackets and table football

Yes, it's all in a day's work for the CareerPlayer team!

We played two solid days of table football with, well, pretty much everyone from the world of graduate recruitment. We also made friends with Keith Chegwin (yes, really) and drank lots of free booze. Who said work had to be a grind? :-P


16 July 2012 09:41 AM


We've got loads of great summer goodies to give away, plus fifty English Pounds for your delectation - sound good?

To be in with a chance of winning, you need to like our page on Facebook, then share the prize photo with 2 friends. That's it!

We'll pick a winner at noon on Monday 23rd July. 

Click here to win!


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