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What does a good graduate employer look like?

31st March 2015
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In my previous article, I outlined how candidates can get ahead of their competitors in order to secure their dream graduate role. However, not all of you will have an ideal position in mind, and with the market picking up, it’s quite likely that you’ll have a range of employers to choose from - many of which are likely to promise you the world and everything in it.

Most professionals are likely to look for an attractive starting salary, but research now suggests that even this is secondary behind overall job fulfilment. So with all of this in mind, what does a good graduate employer look like?

As already mentioned, the importance of an attractive salary has diminished slightly over recent years as ‘millennials’ or ‘generation Y’ have revealed different motivators to their predecessors. Job fulfilment is certainly one important factor, as is being given access to training and development opportunities.Firstly, if the firm has a structured training programme in place, it’s likely that they’ll care about staff development. However, this isn’t the only factor that you should look out for. It’s no secret that a huge part of your generation ultimately want to be their own boss, and many employers are leveraging this entrepreneurial spirit by offering their employees the chance to take ownership over certain ideas and ways of working at the company. It’s worth enquiring about these types of opportunities and whether you’ll get the chance to manage or take the lead on any projects as you’re likely to gain a clear idea of whether they’ll be the right type of employer for you.

Along similar lines, it’s important to find out about the progression path at the company. Obviously, you can ask the interviewer how this works, but it’s also well worth seeking out real life examples of this through social media. By looking at the LinkedIn page of the organisation you’re considering, for example, you’ll be able to see a list of current employees and how long they’ve been in their specific roles for, which should give you a good idea if there is a clear and attainable path through the firm. While the days of having a ‘job for life’ are gone and professionals are staying in roles for shorter periods of time, identifying these companies that do think about long-term progression can be an indicator of a good employer.

The kind of culture that an employer has set up is also of paramount importance when choosing the right company for you. Remember that you’ll be spending a lot of time in your new role and you’re likely to see your colleagues more than your friends or family which means it’s crucial that the environment fits your personality. While a lot will be decided by which sector you choose to enter – recruitment roles, for example are likely to come with a fast-paced and entrepreneurial culture – it’s also very important to find out as much as you can before committing to a firm. Obviously, it’s relatively easy to get a good idea of internal culture when visiting the company, but it’s also a good idea to have a look at its various social media platforms to see if they have team nights out or interesting social events. However, remember that a healthy culture doesn’t just mean that your boss regularly buys you a pint; it also means being allowed to openly express your opinion and feel as if you’re being listened to, so look to identify this in any potential employer.

Obviously, there are numerous other factors that contribute to a firm being a good employer including the chance to work on a flexible basis or on international assignments that allow you to travel, for example. With so many choices available, it can be daunting to select which employer or industry is for you. However, keep one thing in mind: the recession is over and firms are actively seeking talent. For that reason, the power is in your hands.

Paul Myers is Internal Recruitment Manager at NonStop Recruitment.

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