The Skill that 60% of Graduates Don’t Have – But Desperately Need

Why graduates need t be able to sell

The CIPD released a report  today claiming that 58.8% of UK graduates are working in jobs that do not require a degree.

They go on to say that the report’s findings should be “a wake-up call” (link to report here).

Graduates – this is clearly an extremely competitive market place.

There’s a record number of you – and, for some, your hard work has become nothing more than the key to getting your CV read. So here’s a conundrum for you to solve;

If 50 equally intelligent, talented and educated people got interviewed for the same job – which of them would get onto the short list?

The answer;

The 3 Who Knew How to Sell Themselves!

Now, hold your horses professor, before you rush off screaming – “I didn’t spend all those years studying just to become a sales bod!” – that’s not what I’m suggesting.

But let me ask you this;

What differentiates you from the other hopefuls?

If I employ you – I’m going to need to know that you can be trusted not to make me look foolish, not to waste my money, not to screw up – and actually do the job I’m paying you for.

So with that in mind – Do you think your Geography 2:1 and Social Studies A* is going to swing it and reassure my worried mind?

I don’t think so – So you might have an hour to change an employers mind.

That means you’ve got an hour to sell me WHY.

But I’m not asking you to become some kind of snake-oil salesman – nothing could be further from the truth – you see, my definition of selling is this;

Helping People to Make Great Buying Decisions

And that’s what you need to do in your interviews – help them buy into you, – and do you know why?

‘Cos you’re the perfect choice for the job, that’s why!

Here are 4 bits of advice, that – if you apply correctly and continuously try to improve – will, once you’ve made it through to the interview stage, catapult you well ahead of the majority.


OK – so, come on, help me make a great buying decision – Are you the right person for the job?

What? You think you might be? You’re not sure? 

Let me tell you what the person who’s going to get this job is thinking;

“I’m the very best person you could hire.”

Not in a – big headed, smart-a**e, I know everything even though I’m only 21 – kind of way (I said thinking not saying  – remember).

No – what I mean is, that you’ve got to go in there thinking that you’re the best person to help this company achieve their targets and goals and make your new boss look absolutely brilliant.

You’re going to do that with your incredible work ethic, commitment, talent, ideas, intelligence.

Heck, if they don’t take you on, they might end up with someone who doesn’t have all those qualities, someone who doesn’t care about getting the job done but just finds interviews really easy.

You can’t let that happen, can you?

Believe in yourself – and don’t let some lazy chancer run off with a job that’s rightly yours and then go and cock it up for those poor employers – those employers that  you could have saved if only you believed in yourself a little more.


Don’t rush in with too many answers too quickly – ask questions to gain a deeper understanding of what’s being asked and then respond.

In sales, one of my favourite bits of advice is this;

When a guy walks into a DIY store to buy a drill, he doesn’t really want a drill – he wants a hole. Bad salespeople present all the drills, great salespeople enquire about the hole.

The great salesperson would ask about the surface being drilled into, how deep the hole needed to be, the weight it needed to hold.

The bad salesperson just says – “Yeah, I’ve got some drills!”

In your situation – the interviewers are trying to find the right drill to deliver them exceptional results – and that drill is YOU.

If you find out what kind of hole they’re trying to create – you can present yourself as the perfect drill.

But, if you don’t understand their need properly – you’ll just “information dump” them with some stuff that you hope might sound useful or you got out of a book.

Earn the Right

They don’t know you yet – and, to be fair, they’ve just interviewed a whole host of people who only had their own interests at heart – basically looking for an employer to finance their intended – post-university – lifestyle.

Want to stand out from that lot?

Then present yourself in a professional manner, instil a level of confidence from the very first moment they meet you.

Look in the mirror – would you hire you?

One lunchtime before the interview, go and visit their office – have a good look at the people who work there. The way those people dress and present themselves – that’s the bare minimum, they’ve got the job, they’re relaxed. Don’t turn up looking anything less than that.

You’re going to be one of their star employees, so make sure you look like one before they’ve even hired you.

Also – during the interview – look like your happy to be there, listen, take an interest in what they’re saying, make notes and refer back to what they said when you answer their questions.

Make sure you earn the right to be chosen.

Be Passionate

Let’s imagine – just for a minute – that it’s you interviewing candidates non-stop.

Ten people come in and see you – one after the other – your schedule’s so tight you barely have time to fit a sandwich in between candidates being called and you long to see natural sunlight.

And what a mob!

Nine of them look like they’re doing you a favour by turning up. They’re lethargic, they’ve had an early start and a long journey (and tell you about it). You have to ask them all the same questions, and they all give you the same “on-line advice” answers.

You’re just about to give up on finding anyone – thank goodness there’s a cold glass of wine waiting somewhere for you outside – and then the last candidate comes bounding in – excited, smiling, overjoyed to be there.

Looking good, asking really interesting questions – wagging their tail like an over-happy cocker spaniel – with an attitude that says;

“Throw the stick – gimme the job – go on – throw that stick – I’m the one for the job.”

And after a full, exhausting day of interviewing hopefuls you leave that tiny, hot room smiling and feeling uplifted, with one main candidate sticking out in your mind.

So – Learn to Sell Yourself and Help Others to Buy You!

Sneer at that statement if you like – 60% of new graduates probably will – but then, they’re not the 40% with the great jobs.

Last bit of advice – think about this before you go into your next interview;

Either you’re going to sell them the reasons why THEY should employ you – or they’re going to sell YOU on the reasons why they shouldn’t!

So, good luck – now go and save some poor recruiter from all the “Waste of time” and “Can’t be bothered” muppets out there.


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