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How hard is it to find a job as a new graduate?

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As thousands of recent graduates took the opportunity to network and learn about their forthcoming job hunt at the Grad Ireland Summer Job Fair, we picked their brains about their hopes, fears and expectations.

The questions all boiled down to one thing – what are the Irish graduates of 2015 feeling at their first career crossroads post-university?

It starts with you

For many of the recent graduates, the first job search hurdle is a personal one. Seamus Caulfield, an organic chemistry graduate, believes that despite his excellent marks all the way up, he will have to overcome the daunting obstacle of the interview phase. “A major problem for me will be interviews, which I just don’t handle very well” he said. “It took me eleven interviews to get a job during the work experience phase of my course.”

For Aoife Doyle, a UCD graduate of Maths and Irish, believes many in her position  see a lack of experience as the biggest challenge: “A lot of the jobs I’ve looked into in the financial area are looking for two or three years of experience, when all I have is the six months that was included as part of my final year.” A solution that appealed to some was to beat experience with more education. Lawrence Boran, a Sports Science graduate of UCD, plans to get a Masters degree before pursuing full time employment. “I want to do a Masters, but if that weren’t the case I would probably do one anyway; you really need something like that under your belt to stand out ahead of the guy who’s been doing this for 20 years.”

Finding dream employers

Pretty much everyone asked was in agreement that the key characteristics of ideal employment – apart from a big salary! – are those human elements that can be achieved by just about any sector. Colm Hughes, a History and Geography graduate with a long history of work in IT, believes that fairness and respect are the pillars of any high standard workplace. “Having the right people in authority, who you can hopefully get along with but at the least have mutual respect and who will treat you fairly, is key.”

Also of importance to a number of graduates was the possibility of further training offered by the company. Mairead Grace of Business Studies in DCU considers the best companies in her field to be those who can offer her that opportunity. “Working and studying simultaneously is obviously not going to be the most fun, but in the long run it gives you the best chance to succeed in the business or financial sphere.”

It’s Not What You Know …

When it comes to finding a job, there was little disagreement with the assessment that having someone else in your corner is, if not vital, at least hugely helpful. The idea was summed up by Bridin McDermott of the University of Ulster. “In the modern day and age, you’re just hamstringing yourself by not using the resources available to you – be they family, friends or an outside agent – that exist to help you get where you want to go employment-wise”.

While the challenges facing the graduates are tough, the air of optimism at Grad Ireland was palpable. This year’s graduates are confident of overcoming these obstacles and finding a spot working somewhere where they will be as happy to be as their employers are to have them.

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