Job descriptions are the worst. Full of cliches and buzzwords sometimes it’s hard to tell what the job is, never mind whether you’re qualified enough for it. The job description that made headlines last week though, attracted attention for a very different reason. A London events venue directed an angry and frustrated rant at ‘millennials’ who they complained ‘don’t know how to exist in the real world’ and aren’t ‘grafters’.
The letter rightly provoked outcry, making national headlines, and has since been removed. But from the perspective of a graduate who has been applying for jobs and grad schemes for the past six months, the attitude expressed here isn’t actually that rare. This lack of communication between employers and graduates is all too common, and leads employers to treat candidates unfairly. This in turn knocks candidates’ confidence and makes them less likely to apply for ambitious roles in future.
So what needs to change? How can both students, graduates and employers work together to make the graduate recruitment market an easier process for all of us?
Stop calling us millennials
The first thing employers need to understand: We’re. Not. All. The. Same. The term ‘millennial’ encompasses everyone born over a period of around 20 years. And just like every other generation in history, this includes people from a wide range of backgrounds, sexualities, cultures and genders, with different beliefs, skills and attitudes.
It is the belief that all ‘millennials’ are just avocado-eating Starbucks consumers that has led to an attitude in graduate recruitment that is exemplified in the job description above. The job market is becoming increasingly competitive, but that doesn’t mean employers can just treat candidates as one number in many. Applicants deserve better communication and transparency throughout the recruitment process, that will help them to improve and encourage them to keep applying for more jobs. This will also help businesses better target the candidates with the right skills and experience.
It’s not all about the money
According to the job description, young people don’t know how to ‘live in the real world’ where ‘every penny counts’. The ongoing debate about young people’s attitude to money suggests that we’re not interested in working hard and saving, and that we just expect hand outs from a ‘magic money tree’.
Money is of course an important factor when applying for jobs, but so is job satisfaction, personal development and social purpose. Many graduates are more concerned about finding a job that is a ‘good fit’ for their attitudes and beliefs, rather than a job that just pays lots of money. Thinking otherwise suggests we don’t actually care about the jobs we’re applying for, and all we’re after is the pay.
But most graduates haven’t spent three years at university and accrued £40,000 in debt just to pocket a pay cheque each month. We want to put our skills to good use, and if we receive a rejection, we want to know why so we can improve for next time. The jobs we’re applying for and the skills we need for them, are important to us, and getting employers to pass on their feedback, especially after a face-to-face interview, isn’t too much to ask.
It’s time to #FightForFeedback
In fact, here at Debut, we think it should be a legal requirement. We’ve submitted a white paper calling on the government to encourage employers to follow a set of feedback guidelines. Yes, graduates need this feedback in order to improve and go on to secure another job. But the fight for feedback is also just one small part of a wider revolution in the graduate recruitment sector that has been long overdue. Although job descriptions like the one above are thankfully rare, the attitude that underpins it is unfortunately not.
Students and graduates need to start taking power back into their own hands. Employers need to establish a good reputation among students, just as much as students need the jobs they offer. Most would argue that a company that doesn’t treat its job applicants with respect isn’t a company worth working for. So the fight for feedback is in everyone’s best interests.
If students are prepared to complete lengthy application forms and undergo rigorous assessment centres, as well as fork out hundreds of pounds to attend interviews up and down the country, they deserve some feedback after a face-to-face interview. It’s a simple concept, and many big employers such as O2, Fujitsu, Network Rail, Capgemini, EY and FDM Group have already backed the campaign.
But we need your help too. We’ve submitted a white paper calling on the government to encourage quality feedback after interviews, and we need to show them that this is an issue young people care about. Head over to our petition and sign your name to help us demand change.
We all know how hard it can be to find jobs, but receiving quality, constructive feedback after interviews will boost the job market and help graduates find the right work for them. The recruitment industry is changing and we’re leading the charge.