Unfortunately, past experiences have clouded my optimistic outlook…
The time has come for us to recruit again for a graduate to become a junior assistant to our design team. This is a great opportunity and we are very lucky, whenever we advertise a design role, we receive hundreds of CVs and some brilliant people come forward.
However, my heart sinks when it comes to recruitment time because for every one outstanding candidate we have to sift through about 30 awful CVs or interviews.
So many people we see have come through a degree course with no grounding and no idea what you have to do to make it in the creative industry. They haven’t realised that they have to do whatever it takes or they may very well end up working in the supermarket instead.
When somebody studies for a degree they often pull out all the stops and suffer all-nighters to do as well as they can to get the best outcome.
They work hard to achieve that first or second-class honours and this demonstrates focus, staying power and the ability to finish a project to a deadline. All great.
Then, they will bust a gut to get through the interview process. We have some brilliant interview candidates who come prepared with special projects to show us. It is all very impressive. But we have to grill them very thoroughly about their expectations of the role because otherwise, we can end up with a problem.
In general, design graduates often have too much of a feeling of their own ability and don’t seem to realise how much they don’t know and how much they have to learn.
I have had people sitting in front of me during an interview thinking they know more about designing rings than we do.
We expect design graduates who join our team to start at the bottom and work their way up. They have to work hard, arrive earlier than everybody else and often leave later. They have to really prove they have the drive and ability to succeed at this demanding job whilst learning the ropes.
They have to demonstrate a passion for jewellery and for our customers.
But sometimes something happens when fresh-faced graduates join the workplace. When a contract is placed in their hands specifying their normal working hours are 9am-6pm they forget all that extra work they used to have to put in while studying and think that if they haven’t finished their work by 6pm they should just go home and leave it.
No. It just doesn’t work like that in the creative industry. You just work until the task is done and you can’t miss the deadline! And anyway, if graduates had to work really hard to get that good degree, if they don’t continue to work at that pace in the workplace, it is almost akin to breaking trade descriptions law.
You thought you employed a 2:1 degree candidate but by not putting in the hours they are perceived more as a third-class graduate. They are not as good as they claimed to be unless they put in the extra work!
Then of course there is our rural location, in the beautiful Hertfordshire countryside. This presents a big challenge for any candidate.
They have to be prepared to get here every day; the station is approximately two miles away and rents are high. This is sometimes too much of a hurdle for even the best candidates.
But those who have succeeded have done anything to make their way in to the studio until they climb the pay scale to earn enough to buy a car.
But there is always a work-around; people lift-share and we even had one graduate rent a room a few miles away and bike in across the fields. That is what I call determination!
Moaning aside, we do manage to recruit brilliant designers who do put in the hard graft.
It is just surprising now that with so many more people enrolling onto degree courses and vacancies reducing by the year, that graduates are not more prepared for the very real world of work.
Photos courtesy of iStockphoto, © Cary Hope, Image #11510938 & Sean Lock, Image #6048076