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Looking for work when you’re facing redundancy

Posted on: 07 Nov 2018, admin

Timing is everything and sadly as we approach Christmas once again we hear that redundancies are occurring in Milton Keynes. Whilst there’s never a good time to be made redundant we think the run-up to Christmas is possibly the worst? This is a stressful time for the individual involved and their family and whilst you’ll be counselled that this is a business decision, we understand that you cannot help but take the decision personally. The good news is, that lots of companies are hiring new staff. We’ve got great roles working for some of the best employers in Milton Keynes.  Our clients are looking for administrators, call centre staff, collections advisors, team leaders, payroll administrators and customer service executives. So, if you are facing redundancy, please get in touch with our team on 01908 200270 and we can talk to you about some of the roles we are looking to fill straight away!  We’d equally like to hear from you if you’re not being made redundant but you’d like to know what we can do to help you. We’ve written some blog posts in the past which may be useful for you if you are facing redundancy: How to write a CV when you have been out of work Life after redundancy – what next? Please seek advice from your HR team if you are facing redundancy so that you get the best possible package to set you up once you leave work.  And speak to your line manager to discuss the possibility of time off to meet with agencies and attend interviews during your last few weeks at work.  Our team can be really flexible about meeting up with candidates so that we can register you for roles and start job hunting on your behalf. We have a broad scope of live vacancies, both on a temporary and permanent basis. So if you are looking for a temporary position to pay the bills whilst you think about your next move or if you are looking for the right permanent option, our clients are actively looking today and we want to hear from you!


Parent’s Week 2018

Posted on: 22 Oct 2018, admin

We’re coming to the end of Parent’s Week (17-23rd October), so we thought we’d take a look at the issues working parents continue to face, and offer ways to help reduce stress. The benefits of flexible working Some parents choose to opt for a flexible learning set-up, which allows them to better manage the daily responsibilities of being a parent. All employees have the legal right to request flexible working. So if this is something that interests you, then speak to your line manager or HR team to discuss your options. There are plenty of studies that suggest flexible working is not only a practical solution for many, but also increases levels of productivity. For more information, you can read our previous blog on the issue: Why flexible working can increase productivity. Know your parental rights As a working parent, knowing your entitlements is key. Employers should be supportive and allow an amount of flexibility (within reason), when it comes to parental responsibilities and balancing this with the demands of work. There will be times when you have to drop everything for your child, whether it’s to collect them from school or the nursery due to sickness or childcare falling through. You can take time off work (unpaid) to deal with any unexpected issues or emergencies involving your children. For further information on your parental rights, visit Families Online or for professional advice. How to reduce guilt as a working parent Most parents experience guilt at some stage, especially when it comes to balancing home life and pursuing a career. Parents can find the prospect of returning to work following maternity or paternity leave both distressing and upsetting. It’s normal to feel this way, especially as you’ve spent weeks or months bonding with your new baby. Guilt can be incredibly stressful, particularly when you have meetings, deadlines and projects to focus on. Read our blog post on how to reduce guilt as a working parent here: Five tips for reducing the guilt of being a working mum Self care: hints and tips for working parents These days, people are adopting various strategies when it comes to reducing stress and practicing self-care. We are told to look after ourselves, eat well, exercise regularly, meditate, the list goes on. But what if you’re a parent with children to wash, dress and feed? You’re not alone. In fact, there are a number of useful tips on self-care methods for parents that are both practical and achievable. These include the following: Arrange for childcare and schedule 1 hour per week for a coffee and chat with a close friend. Take a brisk walk in the park and listen to a podcast. This is a great way to get exercise, fresh air and engage in an interesting debate or topic of choice. Call a friend, parent or loved one. Keep a journal and write for a few minutes each night - it's a lovely way to unwind and clear your mind for a good night’s sleep.  


How to write a CV when you’ve been out of work

Posted on: 11 Oct 2018, admin

CV and resume writing is a skill in itself. For most people, writing about themselves doesn’t come naturally. It requires a strong sense of self-awareness and the ability to think objectively. It can feel uncomfortable, in the same way that presenting yourself in an interview might feel awkward and contrived. Writing a CV can be even more challenging if you’ve taken time off work. Sometimes it’s hard to know whether you should mention a career break in your CV, or pretend it didn’t happen and leave it out entirely. What is classed as a career break? Firstly, it’s important to identify whether your time-off was in fact a career break. For example, if you left a job without a new one to go to, and you’re actively looking for work, then this isn’t career break. Similarly, if your role has recently been made redundant and you have been looking for work, then you don’t need to mention this in your CV either. Generally speaking, a career break is when an individual decides to not work for a prolonged period of time – usually three months or more. People usually take time off due to personal reasons. The most common instances are the following: Childcare – this is more common due to the increasing childcare costs Career change – for example studying, becoming a freelancer, or taking time off to explore a business idea Chronic illness – including treatment for physical and mental health problems, operations and recovery time Family bereavement – supporting a loved one, dealing with grief following the death of a family member or friend Travel – going travelling before settling down, taking a sabbatical. How should I mention my career break? If you choose to mention your career break and the reasons for this, it’s important to keep if brief, succinct and remain positive. Avoid going into too much detail. Simply state your reason for taking the time off, such as ‘volunteered at an orphanage with a charitable project’ or ‘cared for an elderly relative’, and include the period of time. It’s likely you gained new skills during your career break and have plenty of examples that you could use constructively. You may wish to include these in your CV to show any key competencies learnt, or you could simply save these for the interview stage. Make a list of any skills developed during this period. For example, if you cared for a loved one, then it might be that you developed social and communication skills. These are all classed as ‘soft skills’, which are desirable to employers, as it demonstrates your willingness to work as a team. What information doesn’t have to be disclosed? If you were recently made redundant, were on a zero-hours contract or were fired from your previous position, you don’t have to disclose this information on your CV. Simply put the start and finish date of your position, including details of the role itself, and treat it as any other job or previous experience. Instead, it’s best to focus on the skills and achievements gained during each post. If your reasons for leaving come up at interview stage (e.g. being fired), it’s important you tell the truth and be totally honest about any problems you encountered. Instead of focusing on why you were fired, it’s best to reflect on what could have done differently, and how you would approach the new role. Try not to dwell on the reasons for leaving your previous position, as this could impact your chances of further employment. We all learn from our past experiences (and failures), and it’s the challenges and shortcomings that enable us to grow as individuals. Any more tips or advice? Once you’ve written your CV and made any relevant changes, ask a friend to proofread it for any grammatical errors or inconsistencies. If you have a contact in recruitment or someone in the same industry of work, then utilise this and ask if they’d be happy to read it through. For more tips on this subject, read our previous posts: How to cover employment gaps on your CV and Thirteen top tops for improving your CV to help you build a professional CV and resume. Ascendant Recruitment is an innovative and forward thinking recruiter that has helped numerous candidates get back on the career ladder. If you’d like to speak to one of our team to get some help with your job search see our website for contact details.  


Meet Ascendant Recruitment – After Hours

Posted on: 26 Sep 2018, admin

Are you currently working in an admin or customer services role in Milton Keynes and think you’d like a new opportunity – and earn more money? Ascendant Recruitment are hosting an event to help people in Milton Keynes find bigger and better roles! With over 15 years’ recruitment experience, we have relationships with some of MK’s best employers, including Mercedes Benz, VW, BSI and Join us at Fourth & Fifth on Thursday 11th October from 6-8pm to find out how you can take the next step in your career (and get a pay-rise before Christmas). Find out what our best clients are looking for from their staff FREE CV CLINIC – bring your CV in to us and we’ll help you to make it amazing!  Bring it on a memory stick, tablet, laptop or even on a piece of paper! Find out how to ace at interviews – we’ve got loads of hints and tips to help you wow your future employer BOOK YOUR PLACE HERE Check out our latest Google review - we got Deborah a new role in just over a week of applying! Super impressed !!!!! I would like to say a huge thanks to Sue - I signed up with Ascendant on the Wednesday and to be honest I'd worked in a production role for 8 years - I had also worked in Retail / office work / dental nurse and really didn't know what I could do or what direction my previous experience would take me. After speaking to Sue I felt very reassured - she was going to look at my skills and we would go from there. I left the office feeling very positive. I got a phone call Monday /Tuesday from Sue hoping that I didn't mind my CV being passed on to one of their clients and he would be interested in having an informal chat. I went along 3 days later and was offered a job!  I can't thank Sue enough." We look forward to meeting you on Thursday 11th October from 6-8 pm at Fourth & Fifth. Please book a ticket so that we know who’s coming but the sessions are informal on a drop-in basis. Ascendant Recruitment


Bullying in the workplace: What to do?

Posted on: 21 Sep 2018, admin

The definition of bullying is when an individual or group of people with more power, repeatedly and intentionally cause harm to an individual or group of people. We assume this type of behaviour is left at the school gates; that bullying is a problem which only affects the younger generation and won’t be tolerated in adulthood. But this isn't always the case. In 2016, a study revealed that 75% of workers are affected by bullying. Bullying in the workplace can be incredibly distressing for those involved. It can affect mental health, self-esteem, and if left unresolved, the victim may decide to terminate their contract of employment. At Ascendant Recruitment, we wanted to write about this topic as it’s an issue that affects many individuals and businesses, big or small. It’s important to deal with each case in a professional and sensitive manner. So what can employers do to prevent bullying in the workplace? What procedures should be in place to protect staff and minimise conflict? Ahead of World Day of Bullying Prevention on the 1st October, and to shed some light on the issue, we spoke to Sarah Neyland, the MD of People Tower Ltd, an HR consultancy based in Milton Keynes. Sarah has over 30 years’ experience in HR, and works with smaller businesses advising on disciplinarians and dismissals. How often do you come across cases that involve harassment or bullying in the workplace? "It’s more prevalent with larger businesses as there’s less transparency and it tends to be impersonal. In my experience, smaller businesses suffer less." What are most common examples you’ve seen? "The majority of cases involve disputes between older managers with younger staff. I’ve worked a lot in the manufacturing industry, and have seen cases where managers have been vocally aggressive to staff. There’s a real dichotomy between old-fashioned management techniques versus the procedures in place today. This causes resentment and conflict." "Discrimination is easier to deal with, as it’s evidence-based and there’s less of a grey area. If someone has made racist or sexist comments, for example, they are easier to report and most workplaces have anti-discrimination policies in place that are effective prevention measures. However, bullying can be hidden and is not as transparent." What advice you’d give to someone experiencing bullying in the workplace? "Talk to somebody. If you’ve got an HR department go to them and start keeping a diary. The more facts you have recorded the easier it is to use as evidence. It’s also important you get as much support from colleagues as possible." What advice would you give to an employer? "Investigate the issue properly. Look into the case and act sensitively and professionally. Try and find as many objective ways to gather evidence, such as speaking to employees who might have witnessed the bullying." "Talk to the individual affected (in a private space) and try and understand the case. Who else was in the room? Was there CCTV etc.? Be gentle with people. Try and get them to be honest." "Make sure you have a basic policy in writing or procedure in place, and that there’s an HR advisor to report to. Seek advice where needed. Make it clear that bullying and harassment won’t be tolerated." Ask yourself the following questions: Are you creating a safe, protected and supportive culture? What can you do to improve the work environment? Who can you speak to for objective, trusted advice on the issue? If an employee has escalated the issue to HR, but is dissatisfied with the support, where should they go next? "Speak to someone who is sympathetic and more senior than yourself – perhaps a line manager or head of department." "Alternatively, there are a number of helpful tools online, such as the Acas helpline which offers free and impartial advice. If you’re looking to take your case to employment tribunal, you can call the Tribunals helpline on 0808 800 2222." "For businesses and employers who are looking for further HR support, People Tower Ltd is a local boutique business that offers consultancy services. CIPD also provide useful tools, content and case law on bullying and harassment in the workplace." Finally, we asked our MD Nick Peacock for his thoughts on bullying in the workplace. What advice would you give to someone who has experienced bullying in their previous role, but is interviewing for a new position elsewhere? "I would always advise that any description of bullying is not raised in an interview. Discuss the most cogent reason for you moving on from your last role [with your recruiter] and stick to that when you are interviewed." "It's important to put the bullying in context, because typically it's one person administering the bullying. It’s best to be professional and focus on the new role itself and why you’re suitable as an applicant. Try and view it as a fresh start!"  


Why giving to charity is important

Posted on: 05 Sep 2018, admin

Although it may appear that there is an international day for ‘everything’ now, today is in fact International Day of Charity – and I think it’s an important one to blog about.  It was set up by the  United Nations and aims to address global issues and humanitarian problems throughout the world.  They chose today as it marks the anniversary of Mother Teresa’s passing. I think it’s really important for local businesses to support charities when they can and I’m pleased that Ascendant Recruitment is now in a position to be able to give back, especially to the local community.  If you look on the Ascendant Facebook page, you’ll see that lots of the team have taken part in various fun runs and marathons and I’m always pleased to lend support.  And following a very serious accident for one of the team, they received a lot of support from Spinal Injuries Association – so this is another brilliant charity I want to be able to support. Giving to charity is a very personal thing – there’s lots of different causes you can support from animal welfare to overseas aid and disaster relief. Interestingly, medical research was the most popular cause in 2017. According to Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) 26% of donors gave to this cause. So how can you help? There’s loads of ways that small and large businesses can support a charity. Whether it’s a bake sale or a sponsored walk (or run!), it only takes a small team of dedicated and determined employees to organise an event that could truly make a difference. Consider charities that are local to your business. There are some truly inspiring projects and organisations that do great work right on your doorstep. Here’s a round-up of some of our favourite local charities that continue to inspire us with their incredible efforts to improve lives. #1, MK   This initiative gives young people the opportunity to talk with industry professionals in a relaxed informal setting. This is a cause that Ascendant Recruitment are pleased to be a part of and I recently visited Lord Grey school in Bletchley to meet some pupils and discuss the realities of working life. When I was at school, the careers service was incredibly poor, but this initiative gives young people access to what’s out there. It’s incredibly valuable and they do some great work. #2 Keech Hospice Care, Luton and south Bedfordshire Providing free, specialist care for adults and children who have terminal illness, this charity provides outstanding services (including respite care for family and friends) that are invaluable to a lot of families in Luton, south Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Milton Keynes. #3 Growing People (Urb Farm), MK If you’re green-fingered and looking to support a local enterprise that combines training, education and horticulture then this could be the charity for you! Growing People, an initiative based round the corner from our offices in Wolverton Mill, cultivates produce using environmentally-friendly techniques. Why not sign up to the delicious veg box scheme today? #4 The Bus Shelter, MK Shockingly, many of us are just three pay slips away from losing our homes and ending up on the streets. In their own words: ‘A homeless shelter on wheels to reduce rough sleeping in Milton Keynes... with your help we can provide over 5800 safe, warm nights for people forced to sleep on the streets.’ We hope this post has inspired you to roll up your sleeves (or dig deep into your pockets!) and get involved. It’s important to remember to give what you can, whether that’s monetary donations or volunteering your time, there are so many ways you can make a difference.  


5 ways to support your children after GCSE results day

Posted on: 24 Aug 2018, admin

Following GCSE results day, I wanted to post a piece in solidarity to all parents and families who are on the receiving end of exam stress and anxiety. We’re publishing a number of GCSE-related blogs, and hope to encourage parents and children to discuss their career options. As a dad of three, I’ve had first-hand experience of the extreme highs and lows that our children face once they receive their results. For the lucky few, it’s outstanding grades in every subject, a first-class degree and a multitude of career successes (perhaps). But for many, exam results and examinations can be extremely stressful and debilitating; not all of us can handle pressure, controlled conditions, and tight deadlines! At Ascendant Recruitment, we thought we’d provide 5 top tips on ways to support your children throughout this challenging time. 1: Discuss career options (and maintain an open-minded approach) There are a number of ways to approach this topic. It’s important parents don’t force their children to pursue a path that they failed to pursue themselves. Equally, children shouldn’t be forced to go down the university route if it’s not of interest. Consider apprenticeships, work placements and enrolling in a course at college, as opposed to the more conventional route of sixth form and university. 2: Work experience (to boost self-confidence and gain desirable skills) The employment rate in Milton Keynes still remains incredibly high, which is why it’s important young people are not be discouraged by the job market. Parents: why not use your contacts? Perhaps your son or daughter is interested in construction work, engineering, or setting up their own business. Utilise your contacts and arrange some work experience. 3: Get part-time job or volunteer! A part-time job, whether it’s retail, hospitality or an office-based role, offers a great opportunity for young people to develop skills. For example, time management; customer service and dealing with customers and colleagues in a professional manner. Volunteering is also strongly encouraged from a recruitment perspective. Candidates with volunteering experience are often very proactive, forthcoming and hardworking by nature. It also looks impressive on a personal statement (for university) and CV, too. 4:  Take the pressure off Not all pupils perform well in exams. Some get incredibly anxious, which can affect their memory and ability to excel. But what are their options? For those who didn’t achieve their desired results, there’s always retakes. Invest time in learning how to do exams well. There are a number of practical tips that can help with retaining information and staying calm. Try and help alleviate any pressure or anxiety by encouraging exercise, activities or simply going out for a walk for some fresh air. Explain that a disappointing result isn’t a reflection of your child’s own self-worth. Accept failure. We all fail. It’s through failing that we grow stronger and more resilient as individuals. 5:  Communication is key Over the years, I’ve found communication is essential when it comes to understanding my children’s likes, dislikes and the subjects that they’re especially interested in. But when it comes to the subjects they don’t enjoy, I find ways to make the subject and work more desirable. I’ve applied skills to real-life situations to provide context and meaning. Trigonometry, for example, may be tedious, but it can be essential brain training for other career decisions. And finally, the advice I offer my children always remains the same. Be the best you can be and only compete with yourself.


Apprenticeships: finding a scheme that works for you

Posted on: 14 Aug 2018, admin

It’s August, which only means one thing for thousands of young hopeful, worried and nervous teens all across the UK: GCSE results. This nail-biting, palm-sweating and hand-trembling time will either be cause for concern or cause for celebration (hopefully the latter). But fear not – it’s important to remember the numerous career paths and options open to students, regardless of ones ability and skill-set. Here at Ascendant Recruitment we’ve used our extensive knowledge and created a blog series to help advise and encourage students and parents who may be experiencing post-GCSE anxiety. Each blog will target a specific area of employment for young people, so whether it’s work experience placements or remote learning and badged courses, there are plenty of opportunities for young people who seek alternative routes to university and college. This week, we’re focusing specifically on apprenticeships and why they can be an effective career path for students. To begin, let’s take a look at some key statistics. In 2016 and 2017 alone, there were 491,300 apprenticeship starts in the UK. This may sound like an impressive figure, however, numbers have fallen by 18,100 when compared with the previous year. It’s likely this is partially due to funding changes and the introduction of the apprenticeship levy in May 2017. Recently, The Open University Business Barometer, which observes the skills landscape of the UK, revealed a major shortage in skills (within the UK labour market) and a significant deficiency this past year alone. Corporate Director of the OU, David Willett, explains that skills shortages are costing UK businesses £6.3 billion. This large figure highlights the need for more skills-based courses and schemes, such as apprenticeships. Training is key here. Employers should provide employees with adequate training to support their growth as individuals. This incentivises loyalty and progression within the business, too. Studies have shown that most apprenticeships are in the service sectors. This includes Public Health Services and Care; Business; Administration and Law; Retail and Commercial Enterprise; and Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies. The number of apprenticeship starts by women has risen significantly over the last few years. In 2016/17, 54% of apprenticeship starts were by women. So what are apprenticeships and the main benefits of practical, skills-based training? Apprenticeships are available to those who have reached the legal school-leaving age, which varies across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. They both encourage and promote the development of practical (applied) skills in the workplace. Apprenticeships provide an alternative route for those who are less-academically minded and allow trainees to earn as they learn. There are three categories or levels of apprenticeship available, which reflect the trainees’ skill set and qualifications. These are: Intermediate Apprenticeship (Level 2); Advanced Apprenticeship (Level 3); and Higher Apprenticeship (Level 4 and above). Once completed, trainees will gain a nationally-recognised qualification which are now available up to degree level and above. But what about the trainees that have graduated? What happens after the training has been completed? In our experience, recruiters are far more likely to hire an apprentice who has successfully completed their training to a high standard, as opposed to a student who has two poor A-levels under their belt. If this is something that interests you, we recommend researching apprenticeship schemes, real-life case studies or speaking to a current or past apprentice about their own experience as a trainee. Finally, although AS and A-levels may seem like natural progression from GCSE’s, it’s important to think carefully about your own strengths, personal interests and whether you’d be better suited to a practical training course. Although it might be tempting to take the conventional route in academia, there are a number of exceptional and well-paid apprenticeship schemes and placements in a number of sectors, that can truly kick-start your career. For more information, visit Gov.Uk or The Apprenticeship Guide for useful resources including current vacancies. If you’re a university graduate and looking for guidance on graduate schemes, then see our recent Q&A for expert advice.  


REC Membership for Recruiters

Posted on: 26 Jul 2018, admin

Standing out from the crowd can be difficult in the recruitment industry, but I think we do it well at Ascendant Recruitment. We pride ourselves on providing a professional, friendly and reliable service to our candidates and clients. Our ethos as a business is to be deliberately different and we believe our passion to serve is what enables us to grow and expand our own client base and, in turn, continually increase the volume of excellent opportunities for the people who rely on us to find them temporary, contract or permanent work. But how do businesses credibly show their differences? How can they demonstrate the professionalism and quality of service that they offer? Recently, we were awarded recognition from The Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), the professional body for recruitment. REC are the spearheads for recruitment. As industry experts, they offer sound advice on a number of areas including tax, and most recently, GDPR. They provide tools, business resources, events and workshops to members to help their business grow and thrive. Increasingly clients demand more and more from their service providers. On a basic level we are here to provide our clients with talent for their organisation. But we want to do more. We want to fulfil the gap that often exists between a Recruitment Agency and a client: the all-important consultancy. Being a member of the REC adds another string to our bow by allowing us to provide up-to-date legal guidance whilst adhering to a strict Code of Professional Practice that demands of its members even more than the statute book! One example of this in practice, is that prior to its removal on 8th May 2016, Regulation 17(1)(b)(ii) of the Conduct Regulations, required a Recruitment Agency to state whether any refund or rebates were applicable in respect of their charges. Though Regulation 17 no longer applies, the REC Code of Professional Practice requires employment agencies to continue to agree terms in writing. REC represents more than 3,500 recruitment businesses and we’re proud to be among these, and therefore, classed as one the best in the industry. This recognition is great for business, too, as our clients can trust that we are committed to best practice. Membership also comes with certain entitlements and benefits that can further support your business practice. This includes legal guidance, commercial risk assurance, training and qualifications and extensive research. In the run-up to the 25th May 2018, we used REC’s guide on data protection rights and GDPR. This resource provided information for jobseekers on their rights as candidates including areas such as marketing, rights to object and rights to withdraw consent. The REC was invaluable whilst we coped with GDPR. We wanted to make sure that our candidates and clients were as well-informed as possible, because everyone was being inundated with requests for consents, yet few companies were able to explain what was going on! Thanks to the fantastic support from the REC, we were able to guide not only our candidates and clients through the minefield, but ourselves too. Our business environment has never been more competitive, both in terms of the volume of work we need to complete, and the volume of value add we want to offer our clients. The REC’s extensive and timely legal advice allows us to operate best practice both internally and externally, without the need to spend 4-hours-a week in a solicitor’s office! These are just some examples that demonstrate how and why REC membership is a valuable resource and asset to any recruitment business. Find out more about your rights around data with the REC's handy guide Know-your-rights-Jobseekers - REC document


Graduate Schemes: are they really worth it?

Posted on: 12 Jul 2018, admin

Results day is fast-approaching for hundreds of thousands of university students in the UK. It can be an incredibly stressful, nail-biting time for many, as more often than not, the final result will influence students’ employment options and whether they are accepted onto certain graduate schemes and internships. In 2017, there were an impressive 14 million graduates in the UK. It’s safe to say that there’s a huge amount of competition when it comes to job applications, and depending on the industry itself, it can be a challenge to even get a foot in the door. Graduate schemes and internships are a great way to learn the ropes of a business and develop desirable skills and competencies that are often transferable. This week we spoke with Ascendant Recruitment’s Sharan Lidder, who shared some thoughts and advice on graduate recruitment. Sharan manages Accounting and Finance roles (both permanent and temporary placements) and has been one of our Consultants since March 2017.   Q. What is your experience with graduate schemes? Sharan. I used to run the Finance Graduate scheme at my previous company, which was a really effective part of their recruitment strategy.  Finance-focused schemes can be ideal once the graduate has been to university and studied finance or a finance-related degree, such as Maths or Economics).  They offer a great opportunity to practically build upon your theoretical knowledge and we know that employers regard them as a breeding ground for their future leaders.   Q. In your opinion, can graduate schemes increase an individual’s employability? Sharan. As described above, they can be a ‘way in’ for most people and clients can use it to fast-track high calibre individuals onto a management programme. We used to run it as an assessment centre which allows you to really put the graduates to the test with various tasks and interviews; and often managers in the organisation would meet with them, too.   Q.What is your opinion on unpaid (or paid) internships? Sharan. I prefer paid internships as it motivates the individual to apply themselves and put effort into their chosen field. I think the employer will get more commitment, longevity and are likely to show the individual they value their work. However, my understanding on paid internships is that the pay is often insufficient and the work can be exploitative. I would suggest graduates do their research beforehand, try websites such as Glassdoor to gain further insight into the organisation and its culture.   Q. What qualities to your clients look for when taking on a graduate? Sharan. They consider the degree classification, A level results and general calibre of a candidate i.e. communication skills, ambition and integrity etc. They like graduates who can demonstrate skills associated with emotional intelligence such as confidence, empathy, great communication and presentation skills and specific degrees that relate to the role.    Q. Are there any specific companies that offer impressive graduate schemes and packages? Sharan. There are between 30–40 established accountancy firms that offer graduate schemes for those with a 2:1 or above in Finance, Maths or Economics. They offer competitive starting salaries with a study package where graduates can gain accountancy credentials ACCA or ACA, which are a worthy career investment. They also get invaluable training across the department allowing them to choose their final specialism, whether it be accounts, tax or auditing etc. The bigger names like VW, Network Rail and Home Retail Group tend to run their own graduate schemes and often do milkrounds at universities.   Q. Are you seeing any particular trends in terms of the type of role or industry that is popular among graduates? Sharan. We deal with many of Milton Keynes’ prestigious employers, such as BSI, Rightmove, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Dentons and the ICAEW. The main areas that are desirable among graduates are entry-level customer service roles, finance and analyst roles and specific roles that may deal with engineers and technical products, so an engineering degree here is ideal.  That said, a lot of graduates strive for the right company over the right position in the knowledge that great companies are likely to facilitate great learning experiences.   Q. Finally, do you have any tips for graduates when it comes to applying for their first role post-university? Sharan. Network, network, network! Connect with friends and family, and use business networking platforms, such as LinkedIn. Be proactive. All universities will have a catalogue of top companies that recruit graduates. Also sign up to recruiters, that way you’ll have industry experts (who already have the contacts) actively looking for you.   Finally, don’t be afraid to be assertive. I once had a graduate contact me directly with a ‘sales pitch’, he then sent his CV and was accepted onto the finance scheme. It can be hard to contact the bigger companies but with the SME’s that you have a particular interest in, get in touch and introduce yourself – it’s all great practice! We hope you’ve found this useful. If you’re looking for further advice, there are a number of great resources and tools that can help graduates find the job they’re looking for. Research is key in order to understand the application process and how to stand out in a crowd of hungry graduates. Look out for articles and publications where industry experts offer advice for graduate scheme applicants. In addition to this, find out the latest trends in recruitment and get an accurate view of what an assessment might entail. Remember: be patient and don’t give up! According to Office for National Statistics, we are still seeing graduates in higher-paid and highly-skilled roles. Interestingly, their annual earnings generally reach a peak at a later age, too. It’ll all pay off eventually. Finally, to all graduates awaiting their results this summer – good luck!