Career Advice for Graduates – There is No Room for Mediocrity


Career Advice for Graduates – There is No Room for Mediocrity

Here’s some sage career advice for graduates: NO-ONE WANTS TO HIRE MEDIOCRE GRADUATES and here’s why…

In China this June, 7.3 million new graduates will be leaving Universities and looking for their first ‘real’ job. Only 20% of them so far have either secured employment or committed to returning to full-time study, as reported by The AFR Weekend (29-30 March).  Another 1.6 million students will graduate in the USA this year; more than 450,000 from the UK and 20million plus from India over the next 3 years.

In Australia, the GCA (Graduate Careers Australia) reports that 71.3% of Australian resident 2013 graduates had found full-time work within 4 months of graduating and historically this typically rose to 91.3% five years after graduation. What it doesn’t specify is whether the full-times roles were ones that graduates had originally targeted or whether they are low-paid roles that ordinarily would be filled by less educated people.

And here is the crux – Universities and Colleges around the world are churning out graduates in record numbers and as there are more graduates than appropriate jobs, substandard and mediocre students will NOT get their desired jobs.   Employers want the outstanding students only – outstanding not only academically but those who are able to speak English well (as the world’s accepted business language), understand and acknowledge cultural differences and who are socially aware. Employers look at the whole package that someone brings to an organisation, not merely their degree certificate – which is nothing more than an entry requirement.

Let’s focus on one example that I came across recently – that of “unemployable accounting graduates” (The Australian 29/1/2014). The Federal Employment Department wants to remove accountancy from the priority list for skilled migrants coming into Australia when the new list comes into effect from 1 July 2014. But overseas students make up a massive number of fee-payment accounting student: 61% of all accounting students in 2012, and that would have a huge impact on Universities’ revenues. However, the CPA and Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia argue that accountants are “among the most highly sought after occupations over the short, medium and longer term.”

The emphasis of the article is on the word “unemployable” (which the article cited as being due to poor transferable skills – language and communication in particular). It’s not that accountants are not required, but employers will not employ someone that they believe is less than excellent (& nor should they.)

Graduate recruiters have been hiring very conservatively in recent years. The need to excel in order to stand apart from the pack has never been more important – English skills need to be excellent (as in the above example), your work ethic needs to be great, your career planning needs to be evident, show your entrepreneurial spirit, demonstrate your ability to problem solve and think critically, etc. Graduates who demonstrate that extra commitment and effort and who have the maturity to excel will receive the cream of the job-crop. This is my simple career advice for graduates.

So, I urge graduates to realise that just having a degree at a time where nearly everyone has one, won’t get you your dream job – there are many, many similarly placed graduates. Being mediocre is no longer sufficient for success. You still have to strive to stand out and make that great job happen & only YOU can achieve this – with some input from others and sometimes a stroke of luck too!