Yesterday, we, along with many other graduate recruitment enthusiasts, spent the day dashing between TED-style talks, breakout sessions and some excellent keynote speeches at the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) Student Recruitment Conference.

The biggest event of its kind, the AGR Student Recruitment Conference allows us to take stock of what it happening in the world of graduate recruitment and it’s a great opportunity for us to take a step away from our desks for a day and stimulate our brains a little.

We have attended the event year-on-year; however it was, personally, my first time attending the conference. It certainly did not disappoint and I’d like to share with you some of the key lessons I learnt that I have been pondering over since.

Lesson #1: Keep it real

A recurring message that came through in a number of the sessions I attended was that graduates want the ‘real’ story. They understand that developing a career is often an unpredictable mix of hard work, seizing opportunities, learning from mistakes and having the courage to continue. So producing a squeaky clean case study of a graduate who has proceeded gracefully from one stepping stone to the next, in a timely, uniform fashion and who has always achieved their goals, appears false, insincere and a bit sickly! It’s not about covering up the hiccups along the way but about exposing them to all, and showing that plans will be upturned and reversed, because life isn’t perfect! It’s how you overcome the challenges that counts.

Session: Proactive Employer Branding, @Aimee_Bateman

Lesson #2: No such thing as obvious

A session by Class Careers highlighted that when it comes to providing information for school leavers, you can leave no stone unturned! Class Careers captured some of the school leavers FAQ’s, which included:

  • What do you mean by tenacity?
  • Does it count if I have worked in a small firm?
  • Do I get paid once a month or once a year? (Thank goodness this is not the case!)

The answers to these questions may seem very obvious to us, having experience in the business world, but we must remember that for a school leaver, this could be the first time they have ever been away from the classroom and in a business environment. Answer as many of their questions as you possibly can in your communications and give them the best chances of success.

Session: Class Careers, Christos Orthodoxou

Lesson #3: Why Arnold Schwarzenegger wore shorts to the gym every day

In an incredibly engrossing session led by The Smarty Train, I came away with some excellent table trivia…I now know the reason why Arnie Schwarzenegger always wore shorts to the gym! And I shall share. Arnie was always an upper body man, obsessing over the biceps and triceps but ignoring his self-titled ‘chicken legs’. So when his trainer told him that he needed to bulk up his legs, he realised he needed some motivation to improve. And so he decided to wear shorts to the gym every day so that his weakness, his nemesis, his ‘problem area’ would constantly be staring back at him in the mirror.

The point of this little anecdote: locate your areas of development and then find a way of seeing them every day; an excellent idea which can be used both internally and shared with graduates…how will you find a way to confront your areas of development on a daily basis?

Session: The Smarty Train, Mike Wedgewood & Christian Gettermann