Interview: Dan Hawes, Director of the Graduate Recruitment Bureau

Dan Hawes, co-founder and director of the Graduate Recruitment Bureau (GRB), has taken the time to answer a few questions to advise graduates looking to enter the world of work.

Tell us a bit about the company:

GRB is a leading recruitment consultancy, matching high calibre graduates with the UK’s leading recruiters. We are a no-fee match-making for graduate job seekers, as it is the employers who pay our experts to find their perfect candidate. As a consultancy we offer free one-to-one guidance to our candidates throughout every step of the process, from writing your CV down to the final deal-making handshake. I co-founded the company in 1997 after graduating from Brighton University and seeing many friends struggle to find work. In over 15 years we have helped and placed graduates into a variety of successful careers.

Some people are of the opinion that a degree is no longer a valuable asset and not needed for career success. As a graduate recruiter how would you stress the importance of going to university and getting a degree?

As a graduate recruiter I can safely say that the power of a degree is the most valuable thing a student can have. Our clients are seeking graduates from the top 40 universities to fill positions in their company. Relevant work experience does help but first and foremost they are looking for specific skills or knowledge that only a degree can provide. Gaining a good degree from an established university puts you on the map for employment, and by registering with a company such as GRB the chances of fast employment from university rise significantly.

What other things can students do before they graduate to make them more employable once they have finished their degree and are looking to start their career?

Make the most of every opportunity that comes your way. Employers aren’t just looking for academic success; they want people who make proactive use of their spare time. Work experience is a great way to gain experience in jobs you think you might be interested in. It’s never too early to start gaining work experience; the more you have behind you the better. There are different types of work experience, some paid, some voluntary but think carefully before accepting unpaid work experience – will it actually lead to paid employment?

Most big companies offer summer internships, which are a great way to get experience and sometimes can give you an advantage if you want to join their graduate scheme after your degree. Some university courses offer terms or years abroad which should fully be taken advantage of. Travel is always attractive to employers, especially if you can show you used your time wisely. Attending university in another country for a time helps give you an edge too, as do industrial placements in your degree.

So, say a graduate has successfully boosted their employability and now has an important interview. What vital advice can you give based on your 15 years plus experience?

Preparation. One of the unique services GRB offers our candidates is free one-to-one advice throughout every step of the process, which of course will include the interview. I can’t stress how important preparation is before an interview. If you arrive unprepared you look like you don’t care and is very unprofessional. To prepare effectively, research the company, what they do, their recent news and the skills they look for in employees. Look over your CV and application form again so it’s refreshed in your mind and you’ll be expecting any questions they may throw at you. For example, ‘Why did you decide to take a gap year?’ or ‘Why did you get such a disappointing grade in History?’

Think of answers to questions you think they will ask but make sure you don’t sound too rehearsed; you want to appear natural. On the day wear smart dress even if they don’t specify and make sure you have checked travel arrangements so you are not late. Although you’ll be nervous try to smile and look relaxed; body language speaks volumes and eye contact and posture influence their opinion of you. Some major no nos to be aware of are appearing uninterested or saying too little; being overbearing about salary or mentioning other jobs and looking untidy.

Finally, what’s the best tip you can give job seekers?

Make yourself accessible and known.  Use a variety of methods to get yourself noticed such as social media, networking and attending careers fairs. Do you research and be proactive and you’ll get there.


Written by Anna Pitts

Graduate Recruitment Bureau

Click to search for graduate jobs