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Standing out


The graduate employment market is challenging and in order to be successful you have to stand out from the crowd. In this video employers, entrepreneurs, students and graduates detail what they think are the crucial qualities students need to stand out.

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  • SW - Sue Warren, HR Business Partner, BT
  • MS - Manar Sabri, Graduate, University of East London
  • PE - Priscilla Etienne, Company Director, Funeography & UEL Alumnus
  • JC - John Corcoran, Director, Wire Design
  • GB - Godwill Bindeeba, Managing Director, Quick Lingo ltd & UEL Alumnus
  • WC - Web Chinduta, Student, University of East London
  • LP - Lisa Parker, Programme Office, BT
  • SK - Steven Kirkpatrick, Managing Director, Spring Personnel
  • SB - Selena Bolingbroke, Pro Vice-Chancellor & Alumnus, University of East London

SW – To stand out as a graduate, I believe you really need enthusiasm and confidence. You need to be enthusiastic about the industry or the company that you’re applying for because you may not know all the jobs that you’re gonna do in that sector at the moment. But you need to have a core passion for what they do and to be able to convey that to your potential employer.

Confidence will help you to network, it will help you to ask for a mentor, it will help you to deliver good results and all of those things will then give you a reputation for delivery and that will open doors to further opportunities.

MS - I think the most important thing that will make graduates stand out is taking part in many activities alongside your degree because that demonstrates to your employer that you have transferable skills and you can use that across the organisation. It shows your flexibility and ability to manage your time effectively.

PE - I would say, first of all, definitely confidence. Their manner. The way they are with people. To be relaxed and also to look very smart.

JC – I think what makes graduates really stand out when they come to meet you, I think first and foremost, they have a natural, sometimes quite scary creative ability. Some of these people come in and they are absolutely amazing. Their ideas are good, they have to be incredibly intelligent but, if they have all that, you know, we met some of them who had all that, and I wouldn’t work with them. The one’s who really stand out are the ones that have good social skills. You can really get on with them. They’re really, you know they’ll be a great member of the team and that they’ll add something. They’re not going to be fighting everything and sat there saying nothing. They’re good communicators, first and foremost, people who really make it in our place.

GB - The main thing that makes graduates stand out to me at the moment when I’m recruiting them is - one of them - is confidence. They have to look at me and smile and tell me this is what they want to do. Obviously, if they’re confident, that means they can communicate well. They can speak to me very well. You know, that conveys that they’ll be able to speak to clients, the people in the team and get on with them.

WC - What I think are the most important skills for a graduate to stand out, in my experience, because of my involvement in the society, I’ve seen a lot of students who, let’s say they’re at the end of the three years, they come and then they think, ‘How should I do my CV?’ or ‘What should I put in my CV?”. Actually, most of the time, I’ve realised, when somebody actually says that it actually shows they haven’t done enough to be able to put on my CV. I’ve come to a stage maybe where I actually struggle to know what to keep out of my CV because, at an early stage, I realised and I prepared. It’s very important for you to get involved at university.

LP – In my opinion, a graduate would stand out, the key attribute would be flexibility. A willingness to learn. Not to be rigid in their career path. Be flexible and realise that there is more than one route to get to where they want to.

SK - I think it’s a mixture of, you know, does the degree show you that they’ve worked hard; does the social aspects of their life show you that they can work within a team environment and are committed to long hours, hard work; and then do they have an engaging personality, are they someone that you want to be around? If you get those three things, you’re 99% sure you’ve got somebody who’s gonna be a fabulous member of your team.

SB - I think what UEL students have that’s quite different to other graduates is, generally, they have quite a rich life experience and that could be really impressive to employers. If it’s framed in the right way, and if people feel confident about the way in which they present it.

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