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Advice for graduates in the recession

Published on: 19 Mar 2009
1. Volunteer

Article 25 is a British construction industry charity named after the article in the UN’s universal declaration of human rights on the right to shelter. Since 2006, it has built a school for street children in Goa, an orphanage in Ghana and a clinic in Uganda.

Lisa Dayanandan, a fundraiser with the charity, says it is looking for construction graduates. “We generally look for a specific skillset based on projects we have coming up,” she says. “Also, drawing skills are always useful because there are not always computers where we work.”

To hear about roles coming up, sign up for Article 25’s email alerts.

2. Keep studying

Dan Taylor, a director at Hays Consulting, says now is an excellent time to stack up further qualifications. “It’s a way to stand out from the crowd,” he says.

Karl McClelland is director of jobs agency Architectural Select. He says: “If you can’t find work, but spend three months learning to use a useful computer program, it looks better to employers than doing nothing.”

3. Switch industries

Colin Woodward, director of recruitment agent Contract Scotland, says: “Look for opportunities in a sector that might require some of your skills.” Oil and gas, for example, is an industry still recruiting graduates, and construction industry skills such as project management and cost control are in demand.

Beware of training for something new, though. Woodward says: “The upturn might arrive before you’ve finished retraining, so it’s hard to know whether this is worthwhile.”

4. Stick it out

If you decide to stay in the game, Morris advises that you gain experience any way you can.

Once you’re applying for paid work, James Wilmott, team leader with recruitment firm Abatec, says: “Find inroads – for example, work on the Decent Homes programme continues apace. In future, employers will look more favourably on a graduate who has shown they could survive in construction in 2009 than someone who dropped out.”

He advises talking regularly with selected recruitment agencies, rather than letting several who don’t know you flood the market with your CV. “I’ve got 12 candidates I’ve been meeting frequently and 200 on a database I couldn’t tell you anything about,” he says. “When someone has a job going, I will think of those that have made the effort.”


Read more on what you can get up to while times are tough Graduates: What you can do in the recession.