Graduate Recruitment Days: The Reality

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Are Graduate Recruitment days just a waste of time?

Once you have your degree all wrapped up, you begin scouring the darkest corners of the internet for an opportunity of employment remotely related to your chosen field. If you had the foresight to take a Business course, perhaps combined with some sort of language, you’re in the money. If you took something as ambiguous and futile as Creative Writing or Philosophy then you may struggle. You’ll apply for everything you can and, in all likelihood, be invited along to some form of recruitment day. I attended such an event.

Held in the executive box suite at Chesterfield’s B2net Stadium, myself and some thirty others gathered at half past nine in the morning to present ourselves for two different jobs: creative copywriter and creative designer. It is some kind of faux pas not to include the word creative in a job title aimed at us ‘creative types’. This was one of the more awkward five minutes of my life, the waiting before someone talks. The best thing to do, just like swimming in a British sea, is to just pluck your courage and go for it. I turned to the person next to me and said “Hi, I’m Tom, I’m here for the copywriter job.” To which he replied “Me too.” It turns out that not only was he also applying for the same job as me but he was also called Tom. This brought nervous yet freeing laughter from the rest of the table and the ice was tentatively cracked.

After sitting around just long enough to learn the names and brief history of each person at your table, those running the recruitment day step up and get proceedings underway. We were asked to deliver our own: our name, experience in brief and an ‘interesting’ fact about ourselves. I was just about the only person in there who wasn’t any kind of amateur of professional singer, a fact that struck me as odd until I remembered I was in a room full of people aiming to become designers. I was, however, among the half of applicants with absolutely no experience in the field. After completing a couple of tasks more to do with teamwork and work ethic than copywriting or designed, it was interview time. It seemed perfectly apparent to me that all I would get out of the day was a free scampi lunch.

I was dead last in the running order for individual interviews. By the time I was called in I was fully pessimistic concerning my chances of success having seen vastly more experienced applicants. It is for perhaps this very reason that I succeeded where they failed. I decided, whilst walking through to the interview room, that I would be assertive, perhaps even aggressive, in order to make myself stand out. I thought that perhaps after nearly three hours of timid, tentative answers they would be ready for some upfront comments. I now realise that this is exactly what the interviewers wanted from me. They asked me questions with a blunt efficiency designed to unsettle me. I retained my composure and responded in kind. Not once did I use the word maybe. I honestly believe that it is this attitude which got me one of the four call backs out of some twenty five copywriter applicants. That and my new suit, of course.

When my name was called out to stay behind and discuss arrangements for a second interview I was in genuine shock. Once again my name was called last. I was the only one from my table to get through and I accepted their congratulations and goodbyes whilst suppressing a laugh. I left for home, buoyant and feeling somewhat like an X Factor finalist.

Recruitment days are easy so long as you remain calm and composed, but more than anything else they are incredibly boring. Six hours I was in that football ground and barely an hour of that was spent in audience with my potential employers. Five hours of mindless chatter.

Nice people, though. They added me on Facebook.

Tom Hitchen

I am a Creative Writing and Philosophy graduate having attained Upper Second Class Honours from the University of Hull. I aspire to make a living as a writer and to enjoy myself while doing so.

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