How to onboard graduate employees remotely

What to expect when joining a company in the work from home era, with advice and tips on how employers can integrate graduate employees into a business remotely, and effectively

New graduates preparing to enter the world of postgraduate employment for the first time are doing it in unique circumstances. Not only did many spend their final months of university learning remotely, but they also now face the prospect of being remotely trained and integrated into their new workplace. This has resulted in 82% of 2020 graduates feeling disconnected from employers and 83% lacking in motivation, according to a survey from Prospects.

One upside is that with each new cohort of graduates comes a better understanding of technology. They’ve grown up with technology, using it daily throughout their lives. In fact, the current crops of generation Z university leavers are commonly known as ‘digital natives’. Digital isn’t new to them – they’re at the forefront of new tech, with the latest smartphones and tablets. Despite this, the prospect of beginning their chosen career remotely may still be a daunting one.

Equally, integrating new employees into your business remotely presents challenges. If you train graduates by having them shadow senior employees in the office or on site, that might not be possible. Here is how you can use digital training methods to ensure you onboard graduate employees easily.

Remote inductions

Most new employees will have a schedule of inductions with their manager, team, and various departments in your business. This gives them a full picture of what your business, and each department, does. Even if a graduate employee has secured a role in marketing, knowing what the finance team does, for example, will allow them to understand how teams work together.

For office-based graduate employees, there’s an easy path to digital induction. Tools like Microsoft Teams or Zoom offer a simple way to organise remote introductions and training. After all, it’s likely that your graduate employees are already familiar with these tools – between February and June 2020, Microsoft Teams and Zoom usage is said to have grown by 894% and 677%, respectively.

These tools allow you to deliver presentations to your fellow call attendees, replicating the feeling of in-person inductions. They can be delivered in groups or in single sessions, depending on how many graduate trainees you’re onboarding at one time.

Shadowing

Job shadowing is a critical element of training for a lot of companies. This is particularly important when integrating graduates and young people who are in the first stage of their career. Shadowing allows new employees to see how their department and the role they’ve secured works in the real world. They’ll also have an unrivalled opportunity to learn about the company and its processes.

This is especially valuable to the current cohort of graduates. Many students have lost out on doing or completing an in-company internship as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, which means they have missed out on valuable on-the-job learning. While some key worker roles will allow for in-person shadowing, it may be out of the question for many roles. But there are ways around it.

Meeting shadowing

One of the most effective ways to get to know a job or department is to attend the meetings of the person in this role. For graduates in customer-facing roles, bringing them into client calls will help them understand how your business interacts with customers and how you deliver excellent customer service. If staff are all working remotely, these meetings will likely be happening online. Ensure your graduate inductees are on the attendee lists and encourage them to take notes and ask questions.

Observational shadowing

While it may not be exactly the same as in-person training, digital observational shadowing can still be an effective learning tool for office-based graduates. They can shadow employees carrying out a number of tasks via Teams or Zoom, such as adding a new business lead to the CRM or updating content on the company website.

Online learning

While your new graduate employees might have studied a degree in the role of their choice, it’s likely their learning isn’t 100% complete. There are a wealth of online training options available, including pre-existing courses created and delivered by market-leading expert organisations. For example, HubSpot has many free courses, including content marketing, search engine optimisation, and more. These courses can supplement your inductees’ existing qualifications.

In-house training can also be delivered online. Whether you pre-record videos and put them together to form a course, or you deliver real-time training via video chat, you can ensure your graduates are taught your company’s key processes and are trained in the systems and tools they’ll be using in their day-to-day role.

Online learning is proven to be effective. What’s more, thanks to advances in technology, you can provide new employees with simulated tasks. This allows them to gain critical skills in a no-risk environment. Many industries are already applying innovative technologies, such as augmented reality to simulate medical work, evidencing the wide-reaching possibilities offered by online learning and training.

The current environment for graduates and businesses looking to onboard new employees is vastly different from what we have been used to. Graduates are being thrown into a tumultuous market with fewer prospects. Meanwhile, businesses are facing challenges in onboarding graduate talent remotely. However, with the right approach, you’ll still be able to integrate new employees into your business effectively. What’s more, the majority of these young graduates will expect digital as standard. If you get it right, you’ll also be able to retain the best and brightest graduates you bring on board.  

Natasha Bougourd is a Copywriter for Exterity, a provider of IPTV technology. She has more than seven years’ experience writing about a number of topics.

International student recruitment: navigating the Covid-19 maelstrom

Feeling tense about international student recruitment? Nik Higgins of edtech company, The Access Platform, outlines the results of a recent survey indicating how professionals have reacted to the maelstrom of uncertainty surrounding the effects of Covid-19, and their concerns for the year ahead

Here’s a statement: ‘The challenges facing student recruitment will have ended by the time Covid-19 is over.’ Here’s another: ‘Student recruitment is changing in response to Covid-19.’

Which statement do you agree with? Maybe both?

I should probably be upfront and admit that I’m a bit of a geek when it comes to words; grammar has a particularly special place in my heart. Both of the statements above offer equally legitimate equivocations on the state, and outlook for, international student recruitment. It just so happens to be the case that the first is written in the ‘future perfect tense’ and the second is formed using the ‘present participle’. The former makes a time-bound prediction about a future state, and the latter explains what is happening right now. Didn’t think you were going to be reading an article about non-finite verb forms? Don’t worry, stick with me.

Peering through the multiplicity of perspectives

The thing that these, equally valid, statements talk to is something that everyone working in international education will have felt, experientially, over the past couple of months: uncertainty. Everyone in the sector is making guesses, predictions and declarations about how international student recruitment is changing, and what it might look like in the future. The vast majority of these statements are well informed, authoritative and rigorous. The problem, for anyone reading them en masse, is stitching them together; peering through the multiplicity of perspectives and reconciling them into a coherent and understandable thread, a trajectory for the coming months and year.

This, like most intellectual challenges, is pre-eminently a linguistic problem. There is a wealth of opinion on the topic, all of it couched contingently in close, but ultimately irreconcilable statements. Just like those above. Is international student recruitment going to be ‘future perfect’, stable and resolved at a given point in the future, or is it destined for the perpetually deferred limbo of the ‘present participle’ – unresolved, ever changing, in flux?

Surveying student recruitment professionals

This kind of ambiguity is troublesome, but it also offers a fitting stage for language’s antithesis: numbers. Cold, hard, numbers.

We decided to try and pop the ever-inflating bubble of uncertainty at The Access Platform by surveying student recruitment professionals. We asked representatives from a double-digit number of universities covering three continents a series of questions about how Covid-19 has affected their recruitment efforts, and how they have embraced digital technologies or ‘virtual recruitment’ as an alternative means of engaging with prospective students.

We translated their responses into a series of insights. Feeling tense? Don’t worry. Thankfully these are percentages, not words. Here are the scores on the doors.

Before and after Covid-19

Before Covid-19, very little was being done in terms of online or virtual recruitment. 46% of our survey respondents said that ‘very little’ of their recruitment was done online, while a further 18% said it was ‘less than half’.

The effect of the pandemic has been huge – 82% of respondents said that their recruitment is now being done ‘entirely online’, while for the remaining 18% it is now an equal split of virtual and traditional methods.

Channels and topics

Among participants, 90% said social media was particularly effective, while 55% also vouched for targeted emails. Almost half (46%) praised the value of having dedicated web pages, while 45% said they were using instant messenger services or chatbots, and 36% cited the use of peer-to-peer solutions (such as The Access Platform).

When it comes to topics of conversation, the questions on most students’ lips – or, technically, at their fingertips – were around the effect of the pandemic on the start of their course. A sizeable 73% of respondents told us students wanted to know if they will be able to start their course on campus, 64% said they wanted details about how courses will be delivered online, and 46% said their prospects wanted to know how an online version of their course would differ from the in-person one they’d applied for. Other popular topics included details about social distancing on campus (36%) and questions about accommodation (27%).

Becoming virtual

Almost three-quarters of our respondents (73%) reported running a virtual open day since the start of the pandemic. They probably didn’t have much choice in the matter but this still indicates the ability of the sector to move quickly and continue to offer opportunities for prospective students to find out about an institution and have conversations with staff and students.

Of those who have run a virtual open day since the Covid-19 pandemic began, two-thirds of respondents said these events had been successful (38% said they were ‘very successful’ while a further 25% said they were ‘somewhat successful’).

Among those who haven’t run a virtual open day, no-one said it was down to a lack of technology. While 33% said they had no desire to run such an event, the remaining 67% are planning to run one – they just haven’t made it happen yet.

Future perfect?

Unsurprisingly, almost everyone (91%) who responded to our survey told us they were concerned about the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on their international recruitment efforts.

Of those, 55% said they were worried that continued travel restrictions will cause international students to either change their plans or stay at home. The other 36% said their worry was that international students would look to other countries that are perceived to have handled the pandemic better.

This is really tough for international recruitment teams, as both travel restrictions and political decisions are completely out of their hands. It seems fair to wager that how individual countries go about easing lockdown restrictions and setting out detailed plans for the future of travel will be just as influential as how they’ve handled things so far. The remaining 9% were confident that Covid-19 will not have a long-term effect on their international recruitment efforts. Instead, they are confident that, once this is over, their international recruitment strategies and their key markets for international recruitment will stay the same.

This is the bit of the article where, as author, I am supposed to summarise, unify, and conclude. But I’m not going to do it. I’d just be adding another statement into the maelstrom of extant suppositions. I’ll simply sign off by inviting you to carry on the conversation with me (you can find me on LinkedIn). Among the authors of this article, 100% agree that that is the best course of action.

Nik Higgins is Chief Strategy Officer and Co-Founder at The Access Platform – a global edtech company based in London, UK. Its peer recruitment technology enables prospective students to chat to current students at their chosen university. It currently works with 100 partner institutions around the world, and has offices in the UK, US, Ukraine, and Australia.

Reducing application risk after Covid-19

In light of the threat of continuing restrictions after Covid-19, reducing the element of risk for prospective students weighing up where to apply is essential, says Libreka’s Soumik Ganguly

The study abroad sector and international student mobility have been hit hard by the closure of university campuses across major study destinations, travel/immigration restrictions across the board, and partial or complete lockdowns across almost all major countries due to Covid-19.

While multiple surveys have shown that many students’ study-abroad plans have been impacted in the short term, there is also some positive data about deferment rather than cancellation of such plans – particularly among international students. In the mid to long term, therefore, the outlook may not be as bad as it might at first appear. Many students will still want to travel to the world’s major study destinations to kickstart their international careers. 

However, not a lot has been done to help students navigate through the course of the next phase of planning and preparations that will be essential. Application loss risk remains a major issue for them, for factors that are entirely not relevant to their application profile, eligibility, or the strength of their application itself. Ongoing limiting factors – including sudden travel restrictions and visa challenges may remain long after the major lockdown period is over and are likely to be the primary reasons for the loss of an application. This can deflate a student’s motivation to study abroad.

Combatting deflated motivation

Prospective students should be granted a degree of application ‘immunity’ during these uncertain times. They should be entitled to refunds on any fees paid for applications they have since been forced to retract due to circumstances beyond their control. This would allow them to focus on applying to their choice of post-graduate programmes, whether they want to study a full-time MBA or pre-experience master’s, and whether they are looking to study in the UK or Germany, Canada or the US. In other words, their ‘new normal’ when it comes to considering their options should be the same as their old normal as far as possible.

That’s the reason behind the launch of Libreka’s Application Immunity programme. The programme verifies students’ academic credentials (degree certificate, transcripts) and uses an AI-powered match-analysis to recommend a shortlist of programmes that candidates can then choose to add to their personalised immunity programme. To ensure that all immunity conditions are met, Libereka manages the admissions process, from application prep to submission, for students’ shortlisted programmes.

The Application Immunity programme links up with Libreka’s existing blockchain-based scholarship system, which allows higher education providers to offer conditional scholarship and microfinancing options to candidates who may have a longer application cycle, keeping them in touch with candidates, while receiving their commitment to enrol.

The reduction and removal of risk will be of more importance than ever for those making life-changing decisions about their future education, and those who provide it.

Soumik Ganguly is CEO of admissions consultancy, Libereka.

Waiting for Godot: treading the boards of the great Brexit drama

From the realities of life outside the EU and effects already in evidence, to potential dividends as seen by supporters, ESCP Europe’s Simon Mercado runs the rule over Brexit’s implications for UK Business Schools

In April 2019, Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, remarked that waiting for Brexit is a bit like waiting for Godot. In Samuel Beckett’s famous play, the central characters stay and wait for somebody (Godot) who never quite materialises. Moreover, their long and painful wait is characterised by bickering and disagreement. One gets the connection to Brexit as well as the good humour that extends from the fact that Waiting for Godot was originally written in French. Plus, before anybody screams ‘backstop!’,  it’s worth mentioning that the English version of the play is often played out with the central characters depicted as two Irishmen. 

Three years on from the UK’s EU referendum, we still wait for a Brexit process outcome.  Theresa May’s resignation and a pending summer recess with a new Tory leader will not speed things up much. Halloween (31 October 2019) awaits the UK and EU as a self-imposed deadline. A game of ‘trick or treat’ looks inevitable.

Over these three torturous years, the UK’s Business Schools have had time to eat, breathe and sleep Brexit.  Few, if any, have expressed joy at its choice or impact and most have lobbied for a softer variant or its abandonment. This position has tended to reflect a majority view that continued EU membership is the best platform for the sector’s growth and future success.  

In one of its early pronouncements on the subject, the UK’s Chartered Association of Business Schools (CABS) declared: ‘We can’t change the outcome of the referendum but we need a good deal if we are to avoid seriously adverse consequences.’ Behind such a careful statement is a community of Business Schools that would tend to believe that Brexit is a setback, the scale of which will reflect the nature of the final exit deal. Across the sector, Business School Deans have queued up to couple cries of resilience with admission that leaving the EU hurts the UK’s ability to attract the best students, researchers and academics from across Europe.

Brexit fears and impacts

What underpins opposition and/or suspicions over Brexit? To answer this question, we have to look at the current situation and benefits of EU membership.

At the moment, higher education (HE) institutions in the UK can recruit the best European academic talent with relatively little restriction. Over 20,000 European nationals work in the UK’s HE sector on a visa-free basis. Among these are outstanding academics and professionals making great service to UK institutions. In many disciplinary fields, this supply line is vital to the educational offerings and reputation of UK institutions.  

On the other side of the staff-student relationship, the UK currently attracts EU nationals to study here with few obstacles or barriers. There are close to 140,000 fee-paying degree students from continental Europe in the university sector alone, making up about one quarter of its global international student population. As a full EU member economy, the UK can match its appeal as a high-quality, English-speaking sector with a fee and access regime that positions EU nationals favourably when compared to other international students.

With EU nationals treated as if they were home students, they pay lower fees and can study on UK-based degree programmes without visas. They can secure loan financing for their UK-based studies (as if they were UK nationals) and enjoy a right to stay and work in the UK after graduation. On top of this, there are around 20,000 UK citizens studying elsewhere in Europe for a degree at lower continental fee levels and a similar number of British exchange students funded each year under the Erasmus+ mobility programme. For younger people, this is one of the primary symbols of the UK’s EU membership.

Finally, as a highly competitive and impactful sector, the UK’s transnational education (TNE) strategies are very much aided by single market freedoms with considerable scope for growth in such activity. Campus implantation is easier in a context of regulatory alignment than regulatory divergence, as are other forms of award-based collaboration. Our research strategies are intrinsically linked to EU funding regimes and programmes. We presently enjoy full participation and access rights to Horizon 2020, with an excellent funding and participation rate. EU-funded research projects and initiatives have been the source of vast funding for research in UK institutions and are playing a vital role in enabling and scaling collaborative research across European borders. Programmes of this type build relationships and interdependencies that naturally span out into other forms of institutional co-operation. In addition, the EU’s structural funds have enabled many universities and their Business Schools to develop infrastructure and capacity.

The threat of Brexit

Are all the above benefits really at threat? If we consider what happens in a ‘hard’ or ‘crash-out’ Brexit, some of these established benefits look to be at risk. In terms of access for EU students and workers, basic legal rights of access would change dramatically. Students would be treated like other international students in terms of visa requirements and would almost certainly face higher fees and new visa-based access requirements.

UK higher education is renowned for its two-tier pricing model with international students already facing higher study fees, visa requirements (and costs), and restrictions on post-study work. This would be the new reality for EU nationals studying in the UK and one could lead to a decline in demand. The Department for Education (DfE) is said to be preparing for higher fees for new EU students from as early as 2020. Academics and professionals taking up work in UK higher education would require visa sponsorship, which amounts to an administrative nuisance and (small) extra cost to all parties.

The UK would also be outside Erasmus+ and forced either to buy in, or to set up new bilateral exchange schemes. On top of this, there would be no ‘pay-outs’ from EU structural funds to part support infrastructure and capacity projects at institutions in eligible UK regions. Outside the EU, the UK moves from a position of centrality within impactful Horizon 2020 research programmes to life on the outside. In the face of competing investment priorities at national level, there is no certainty that current EU funding levels would be matched by substitute schemes.

A softer variant of Brexit would arguably soften the blow, especially one with a commitment to preserving freedom of movement for young people for the purpose of education and training. In this scenario, one would envisage bilateral protocols between the UK and the EU in keeping with those concluded between the EU and Switzerland.

Specific agreements would, of course, need to be negotiated and implemented. These would almost certainly maintain some of the current freedoms and benefits enjoyed under EU membership but this would be a menu-based approach with agreement to be struck on fees, rights of residence, post-study work entitlements, participation in the successor programme to Horizon 2020, Erasmus+, and mutual recognition of qualifications and diplomas.

Life beyond Brexit

Of course, the strength and resilience of the UK higher education sector must be taken into full account, as must the arguable benefits of a more independent path. Set against the so-called `Brexit penalties’ are the Brexit dividends as seen or understood by its supporters.  Taking a narrow view of potential reform to HE and immigration, UK institutions could expect higher per capita fee income from EU students and a potential reduction in the burden of student loan financing previously open to EU nationals, for which recovery rates are staggeringly low.

UK institutions have proven their ability to continue to attract international students in high number despite relatively high fee levels and even when visas supposedly function as an administrative barrier or psychological deterrent. The logic runs that if the product or service is good enough, demand will endure.

Pending immigration reforms driven by Brexit also extend the period of time that international graduates can stay in the UK in order to secure graduate-level work after completion of their studies. Planned rules will increase the time period international graduates are permitted to stay after graduation, from four months to six months, with a full year in prospect for PhD graduates. If this legislation comes onto to the statute books, then Brexit will arguably have improved the post-study work entitlements of half a million international students.

Brexit supporters will also remind us that whatever money is redistributed back to UK universities and Business Schools through EU projects and programmes pales into insignificance when compared to global net contribution. There is also broad assumption that substitute schemes will emerge at national level and with significant funding. Outside the formal structure of the EU, it is clear that UK-based Business Schools and researchers will find ways to collaborate with their European counterparts too.

Effects and impacts

Although the Brexit process has yet to come to a conclusion and the ‘end state’ remains unclear, it is abundantly clear that its effects are already being felt. One quick win for the UK sector has been the fall in the value of the pound on international currency markets, which has had the effect of making UK study more affordable; a sort of Brexit premium. 

Application and registration rates have held up, at least for now, although the fast rate of growth in EU applications for undergraduate courses experienced prior to the referendum has been lost. There are EU nationals on faculty and in administration teams across our institutions upset at developments and concerned over their future status. The ‘settled status scheme’ introduced by the government has allayed certain fears but the introduction and management of that scheme has attracted widespread criticism.

A significant number of EU staff and academics have left UK institutions citing Brexit as an influence on their decisions and applications for new posts have changed in profile for many institutions with a relative decline in applications from continental European academics. Some students have been confused about the extent and timing of rule changes that might affect them, especially as a whole series of supposed ‘independence day’ dates have come and gone. They and prospective entrants have faced uncertainty over the nature and timing of fee-related decisions as the UK has stumbled through without certainty over the start dates for new rules and regimes. 

Worries across UK higher education about future Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020 participation, have been linked to more immediate effects. Organisations across Europe have indicated that uncertainty about the UK’s continued involvement in European programmes is already causing problems. These include sharp falls in secured funding and requests for UK institutional/researcher involvement in Horizon 2020 project bids and applications.

But in a sense, we leave the biggest issue to last. Like other service businesses, the industry is better placed if the market is healthy and performing strongly. The first concern here is the most obvious one. Brexit is an assumed factor in the UK’s weakening growth rate. Apart from the knock-on effect on spending and earnings, there is ample evidence of Brexit-influenced relocation decisions. This may not amount to a ‘Brexodus’ of firms and jobs but there is a growing impact on the UK graduate jobs market, especially in areas such as banking and finance. After a bumper year for graduate jobs in 2015-2016, plans for graduate hiring by top employers have been downgraded. One annual survey (by research firm, High Fliers) has found an average 10% annual cut in graduate recruitment by private sector employees in the first two years subsequent to the EU referendum. Moreover, the requirement for firms to ride out Brexit uncertainties and fund expensive contingency plans is leading to short-term suspensions on investment decisions, for example, into management development training and/or commissioned research.

A final thought

As we await the final act of the great Brexit drama, it remains unclear what sort of sector the UK will finally have. One embedded firmly in the European Higher Education Area and subject to the full body of EU law, one connected to this area through some sort of independent deal, or one that is fully on the outside of it? The curtain falls on Beckett’s drama without Godot’s arrival. Luxembourg may be a tiny state but its Prime Minister might just have found the perfect way to depict and conceptualise this protracted Brexit drama.

Simon Mercado is Professor of Management and Campus Dean/Director for ESCP Europe Business School in London (UK).

Winning at interview and preparing for AI-infused recruitment

If your CV was good enough to get you an interview, that’s great, but looking good on paper is just the starting point. At interview, you have to demonstrate that you have the skills to do the job and will be a good fit with the team.

Your audition

An interview is an audition – your opportunity to shine and prove you are the perfect person for the role. The actor Harlan Hogan is famous for delivering the catchphrase, ‘you never get a second chance to make a first impression…’ and it certainly pays to be well prepared.

The interview is not, however, just an exercise in self-promotion. The hiring manager has a specific brief and, in effect, you are there to convince the interviewer that you can solve their hiring problem. An interviewer will focus on gaining an understanding of you and your motivation and how these fit with the role, existing team and organisational culture.

Be prepared to show how you will add value and that you are the best candidate to help the organisation succeed. When you are asked to tell the interviewer about yourself, what this request really means is that you should show ‘what value would you bring to us?’

Thorough preparation and the way in which you present yourself are crucial to success; but, since performance at interview is not a reliable indicator of job performance, interviews these days tend to be quite structured and often concentrate on competencies with targeted behavioural questions.

The basics

Clarity and brevity are your touchstones. Show you are articulate and able to think on your feet while communicating effectively under pressure. Be ready to provide work-related examples that show your personality and how you operate and illustrate that you will be a good fit in the role. Ensure you pinpoint your strengths and expertise and emphasise your points with examples that showcase your achievements. Show how you will make a real difference when you are appointed.

You may be asked some tricky questions as interviewers probe to assess how you react. Keep your answers concise and relevant. You are likely to be asked competency-based questions relating to your previous roles, so make sure you have plenty of examples prepared.

Employability skills are also an important factor for success at work and showing that you have these skills and focusing on them during the interview process, along with your technical expertise, will help differentiate yourself from the competition. Concentrate on showcasing good communication skills, commercial awareness, a commitment to lifelong learning, problem-solving skills, and professional manner and attitude.

Demonstrating your skills at interview is not easy and we all have ‘off days’ but interview practice will help. If you can, get a friend, colleague, career coach or mentor to help with some sessions to rehearse your responses, improve your confidence and hone your performance.

The changing face of recruitment

HR now use robotics to enhance and expedite the recruitment process and leave hiring managers free to concentrate on more complex tasks. AI is supposed to remove human biases that adversely affect some candidates and it seems that nearly all Fortune 500 companies are using some form of automation to enhance hiring processes.

It’s interesting to consider what changes job seekers are likely to see as robots are used in the interview process more often. A large Swedish recruitment specialist, TNG, has been experimenting with such a system to offer candidates job interviews that are free from the unconscious biases that managers and recruiters may bring to the hiring process. The idea is to make the experience ‘seem human’ while ‘background-blind’ AI programmes manage tests and perform initial online interviews.

The robot interview doesn’t indulge in pre-interview small talk and asks all questions in an identical way, in the same tone, and typically, in the same order. This is believed to create a fairer and more objective interview. Recruiting managers are then provided with transcripts of the interviews so they can decide which candidates to move to the next stage of the process, based on their answers alone.

Impressing the algorithm

Interviewees can’t relax too much in this context as the AI programme records and analyses responses, and where there is a video interface, monitors facial expressions. Some candidates will find they are comfortable with such an interview, as they will perceive it as a non-judgmental, non-threatening and non-invasive means of interaction which affords them scope for presenting themselves in a relaxed manner. Others may find talking to a screen and recording their answers more challenging.

There is some discussion around the issue of bias and AI. After all, the algorithms at work here are programmed by people who have flaws, biases and preconceptions that are all too easily inherited by an AI system. That said, many candidates seem happy with these developments. Randstad, a Dutch multinational recruitment firm, found that a majority of US job candidates believe technology, AI included, has made applying for jobs more efficient. These same candidates also felt more respected and engaged in the recruitment process as they received automated updates.

Impressing a robot at interview may require candidates to adjust their focus. Answering questions that will be analysed by an algorithm means your responses must focus on the job specification, using words and phrases directly related to the role. You cannot rely on building rapport with the interviewer because a robot is not interested in bonding with you. It will still be important to be well prepared for the interview, having read not just the job description but also the organisation’s website information to see what qualities they prioritise and the culture they portray.

The plain fact is that a robot can interview many more candidates per day than a person can and will also review a candidate’s social networking activity thoroughly and quickly. At least in the early stages of the recruitment process, we are likely to see automated AI powered systems being used as a matter of course. Whether the interviewer is human or machine it remains important that the applicant makes a good impression.

Liz Sebag-Montefiore is a Director and Co-Founder of career management firm, 10Eighty and has provided HR solutions to a wide range of industries since 2005.

Striving for the side hustle

Why more students than ever before are setting their sights on the side hustle and ditching the traditional nine to five

Our general default to working hours is and has always been, the nine to five. But why is this so? Is it just a habit? A comfort associated with this way of working and living?

Among the many students around the world that I’ve spoken to or mentored, there’s a sense that these traditional, standard working hours are well on their way out. This simply is not the lifestyle young people want for their futures and change is already afoot.

We’ve seen a major change in the behaviours and desires of job seekers over the last 12 months on the JOB TODAY hiring platform, particularly among students in the UK, but also worldwide.

Where the ‘Jack of all trades’ was once seen as a negative, today’s millennials and members of generation Z are embracing the opportunity to grow in multiple trades or skills and are ditching the race to chase elusive job titles through the ‘job for life’.

Instead, they’re pursuing multiple income streams through part-time, freelance and casual roles to develop new skills and champion a more balanced way of working – as a student and beyond. A multi-hyphenated way of working if you will.

We recently conducted new research which shows that more young people in the UK than ever before are ditching the nine to five. In fact, 50% of those surveyed said roles outside these standard working hours are helping them pursue side hustles and achieve a better work-life balance.

Supporting students to challenge convention and pursue flexible work

Personally, I love that this generation is completely challenging the norms set by generations before us. They’re leveraging multiple roles and ways of working to create a multi-hyphenated career that allows them to smash goals and create a lifestyle that better balances work, passion pursuits, and social/family lives.

However, while many millennials and Gen Z job seekers (in particular) seem to have it all together when it comes to pursuing their passions the reality is that the vast majority of young people still need a helping hand to go after their side hustles.  

We need to do more to help and encourage this generation in their pursuit of their passions, side hustles and simply, a lifestyle that goes against the comforts of the nine to five. This is all the more important when this type of lifestyle looks so different to parents, grandparents, and even to friends.

That’s the reason behind JOB TODAY’s recent partnership with king of the side hustle, Jamal Edwards MBE, who was named to the 2016 Forbes 30 under 30 in European media list and is the founder of urban music channel SBTV. The #WorksForMe campaign offers the chance to win an exclusive, one-to-one mentoring session with Jamal that can help one young person in the UK to get their passion project off the ground.

As part of the campaign, aspiring entrepreneurs across the UK have been getting in touch to tell us about their career goals, their side hustles, and why they want to win a one-to-one session with Jamal. We then selected finalists and you voted for the winner.

Top 5 flexible roles for students

The JOB TODAY app connects young job seekers with casual jobs which are available through local businesses. This allows students to secure jobs and facilitates flexible job opportunities that help young people in the UK steer through the ever changing, fast-paced job climate. Some of the most popular flexible roles we have available on the app right now for students include:

1. Dog walker: the UK’s fourth-most popular casual job can see you make monthly earnings of around £1,500 GBP a month. It also gets you out in the fresh air and offers a much-needed break from the books.


2. Promotional work: popular brands we use every day run campaigns to boost awareness and often need casual staff to help spread the word. Where these campaigns are held vary, but you could find yourself at a festival or a major sporting event. You can also pick which days you can work and which you can’t. Ideal for any hard-working student who doesn’t mind spending time on their feet!

3. Cleaning: cleaning while studying can help aid mental focus as you are keeping active without mentally investing. The trend of cleaning has seen Sophie Rose Hinchliffe (aka Mrs Hinch) catapult into influencer territory with her tips on keeping spaces sparkling. This role suits students who want to zone out and earn some cash.

4. Barista: the wonderful thing about the UK’s love for a frothy one is that there’s always work available behind a bar! The added bonus to this is, tips! This is best suited to the early birds.

5. Delivery driver: if you have a driving licence, then why not work the parcels – from courier driving to Uber Eats. Internet shopping is forever on the rise with instant and flexible options for delivery meaning there’s a constant demand for flexible workers in this arena. This often comes with a vehicle and you can work days and hours that suit your schedule.

Polina Montano is co-founder and Head of Global PR and Brand Marketing at mobile hiring company and app, JOB TODAY. She has a wealth of experience building and growing her own companies and holds a master’s degree in entrepreneurship and innovation from the University of Luxembourg.

Surviving and thriving in your post-university life

How can you ensure you don’t end up in a job for which you’re overqualified? HelloGrads co-founder, Sophie Phillipson, offers some practical steps

After years in education, we all look forward to the photo opportunity that is graduation. But beyond the gowns and mortarboards, there is a lingering sense of dread – the unknown is just around the corner.

The charmed walk into jobs and graduate schemes, others look to PhDs or gap years. The best advice you’ll ever get is this; even if you aren’t sure what you want to do for a living, the more preparation and planning you can squeeze in before you leave education, the better your first taste of the real world will be.

The risk of overqualification in your future employment

Research from the UK’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that graduate overqualification is a particular problem for the UK, compared to the rest of Europe, with 58.8% of UK graduates in non-graduate jobs – a figure only exceeded by Greece and Estonia. That means the risk of under-employment – doing a job you’re overqualified for – is high.

How to boost your prospects of securing the right job

The good news is there are some practical steps that can be taken before the training wheels come off.

1. Prime your CV

Life can get hectic at university, especially in the final few months. Finals loom, essays are due and the question of ‘what happens afterwards?’ keeps getting pushed back to deal with what is right in front of you. So kickstart your post-university prep before the final semester. In fact, there are plenty of things you can do from day one.

One of the best ways to enhance a CV is to get involved with, or run, a society, particularly if it bears some relevance to your chosen career path. Be it student media, young entrepreneurs, LGBTQ or debating, there’s either a society to be joined, or a gap for one to be started.

Not only will you meet interesting people, pick up new skills and potentially participate in big events, but it’s a golden opportunity to become more employable while enjoying yourself.

Likewise, hobbies and sports can demonstrate that you’re passionate, a team player, disciplined or dynamic.

2. Network

One of the biggest concerns we hear from new graduates is that they’ve left university without having any idea about what they want to do thereafter.

Having an idea of your career mapped out is sometimes half the battle, but this doesn’t mean Googling job titles – you need to start talking to people. There is no better way of understanding a job, or an industry, than to speak to someone on the frontline.

Spread the word among family and friends. If you stumble across a contact with an interesting job, send them a message or arrange a call and ask about what they do. Most people will be flattered to be asked.

If you don’t know anyone, try professional networking on LinkedIn. Search relevant content, read all you can, and try to strike up a conversation with someone in an industry that appeals to you.

Check out careers events taking place at your university. Dress smarter than the average student for these, as this is an opportunity to speak to industry insiders, glean useful knowledge, and make your mark.

Also, look at local employers. Can you start making relationships with small businesses in the same city while still at university, either by offering your skills as a temp or by doing some work experience between classes?

3. Great expectations

Speak to career coaches, professionals, graduates, or anyone with a job and they’ll all tell you your degree doesn’t define your career or your route to success.

Take the late billionaire Donald Fisher, who studied business at UC Berkeley. It was decades after he left his studies, and with no retail experience, that he founded Gap aged 40 because he couldn’t find jeans that fitted him. Dexter Holland completed a master’s in molecular biology then suspended his PhD studies to pursue his passion project which became the internationally-acclaimed punk rock band, The Offspring.

No one’s life or career is a well-structured race to the top. If you prepare properly and take the necessary steps to give yourself the best chance – as you’ve already done by investing in higher education – then, trust me, things will work out. But effort is required to make the transition easier.

By the time you leave higher education, you should already know how to solve problems, work hard, focus and really get stuck into a project. But you can make your way into the ‘real world’ much simpler with some thought and planning.

Sophie Phillipson is co-founder of student and graduate support site HelloGrads, which offers help and advice on careers, life and finances to those leaving university.