How useful is your degree? Advice on how to stand out amongst other graduates.


University entry rates have risen every year since 2013, reaching their highest figure recorded in 2017 at 33.3%*. This means a third of 18 year olds are placed on degree courses through UCAS. As the number of people going to university increases, how useful is your degree in getting a job? And how can you make sure to stand out in sea of graduates?

Elanor Hockin, our Talent Acquisition Manager, and one of our top performing Sales Executives, Drew McHarg, share their advice on how to get your first job after university.

How can graduates stand out during the application process? – Elanor Hockin, Talent Acquisition Manager.

Here at FLEETCOR, we don’t have any graduate schemes in place, so we don’t tend to hire a huge amount of graduates. Although it’s great that you’ve got a degree, we concentrate more on behaviours when it comes to hiring good candidates. As more and more people are going to University in recent years, it’s not how it used to be, where if you had a degree, you would be able to demand a higher salary. For that reason, there is a lot more competition in the market from other graduates as well as people with no degree but with a decent amount of work experience. Graduates need to show that they are willing to come in at a lower level, but with hard work they will be able to excel at what they do.

In order to nail the application process, graduates need to sell themselves! It isn’t always about work experience! The skills you have taken away from university such as time management, meeting deadlines, achieving great grades or engaging in extracurricular activities such as sports will help to boost your application and show that you are willing to go that extra mile to achieve your goals. In terms of your CV, the experience you should include depends on the role and if any experience is required. Other than being able to demonstrate the required skills for the role you’re applying for, you should highlight your achievements and how you achieved them. Just showing a list of ‘things you can do’ will be irrelevant to an Employer, if you can’t prove how you did it and show an outcome.

For our sales roles, we consider all applications regardless of experience as we hire based on behaviours. Drew McHarg is an excellent example of this. He only had part time work experience in a restaurant whilst working towards his degree. However, in his interview, he blew us away. He was able to articulate why he wanted to work not only in sales but for FLEETCOR; throughout the interview process, he listened to what was talked about and used this to his advantage.

“So, it’s extremely important to do your research before a job interview, into the role you’re applying for and the company. Know what the role involves and don’t be afraid to speak up if you don’t know something. We can train people how to do a role but attitude and behaviour needs to come from within” - Elanor Hockin, Talent Acquisition Manager.

 

From University student to one of FLEETCOR's top performing Sales Executives - Drew McHarg's Story.

I studied Business and Management at Leeds Beckett University. I really enjoyed university and I would 100% recommend it to anyone! I think university gives independence from a young age and encourages you to manage your time, your course, friends and money so that you have a good work-life balance.

As my course was very broad, I never had a desired end role. I considered consultancy and recruitment but I always liked the sound of sales; I used to be a bit of a del-boy in school, selling all sorts of chocolate and drinks from my school bag. When I came across my role at FLEETCOR, I saw it as an opportunity to work hard and get paid well for it.

I consider myself very lucky to have found a job so soon. I had started looking for work a month before graduating and my interview with FLEETCOR was the second job interview I had once I submitted all of my final work. I was fortunate to be offered the role and already started working before I had even graduated!

In terms of my CV, I didn’t have much sales experience. I’ve had consistent part time jobs since I was 16, working mainly as a waiter, but aspects of these jobs did require upselling products. Before my interview, I did research into FLEETCOR, the fuel market and its competitors, so that I was fully prepared for my interview. My interview involved competency based questions, general questions about myself followed by a role play where I imitated a call with a customer. During my interview, I demonstrated that I was able to learn quickly and I think this helped massively with me getting the job.

I’m currently really enjoying the sales environment and get on well with everyone in the office. The constant competition to do well and succeed really motivates me; FLEETCOR make work as interesting as possible by having incentives and rewards for hitting targets.

“My advice for graduates who are currently unemployed is to keep on going! There is something for everyone; don’t settle on something you don’t enjoy or aren’t happy in. Look for something that genuinely interests you and do as much research into the company and role as possible! Organisation is key and gives a good first impression to employers” – Drew McHarg, Sales Executive.

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