Graduate positions

For anyone graduating – or with offspring who are graduating – this year, you could be forgiven for thinking the future looks a little bleak.

The average graduate salary is likely to stay frozen at £25,000 for the second year running, according to research by the Association of Graduate Recruiters. There are also fewer jobs to be had. And the best that can be said is that the number of vacancies hasn’t fallen as sharply as predicted last year: the decrease was by just under nine per cent rather than the anticipated 25 per cent.

But competition will be extra fierce this year, because the job-hunting class of 2010 will be joined by around 53 per cent of 2009 graduates, who are still vying for positions.

Employers might welcome a bigger talent pool. But such a welcome is misplaced, at least according to one recruitment firm. ‘This rise in the quantity of applications has not brought a rise in quality,’ says ClodaghBannigan, head of client services at Alexander Mann. So it seems that increasing the size of the talent pool has just diluted the talent.

The advice is straightforward: the best approach is to carefully research roles and apply with thoughtful covering letters and tailored CVs. And, as ever, one of the first ways to guarantee your foot in the door (on the way to an interview) is to pay close attention to your writing.

Remember the basics too. You might have an exceptionally well put-together CV, full of pertinent experience and encouraging insights into your person. But all that will mean nothing if your application is thrown out based on the typo in the first line.

Literacy is a basic ‘hard skill’ that prospective employers will look for evidence of in your resume. Typos, spelling mistakes and errors in punctuation and grammar can all indicate sloppy attention to detail and won’t paint you as the kind of representative they’ll want in their company.

Until your interview, you are only as good as your paperwork (to quote the Recruitment & Employment Confederation). But a great CV can get you a chance to prove you are the right person for the job. So make sure yours is:

•      up to date
•      well-structured and clearly laid out: it implies a logical and considered thought process
•      full of objective, genuine evidence of your (relevant) experience and achievements
•      written in simple language and short sentences: waffle will get you nowhere
•      proofed, proofed and proofed again: check all grammar, punctuation and spelling, paying close attention to any contact details. Get someone else to check it too.

The definitive guide to transforming the writing of individuals and teams