Graduate employment in business management
For many ambitious graduates, managing a business is the ultimate career dream. Prestigious titles like "chief executive officer" or "managing director" offer astute operators the chance to flex a range of intellectual and practical faculties in pursuit of high-end business goals, not to mention lucrative pay packets.
But for all the glamour and status that business management roles offer, the jobs also demand a high level of commitment and application - attributes that graduates themselves must show if they are to land such positions.
Of course, business management could involve a wide range of duties across a wide range of sectors. From the CEO of a multinational company to a self-made entrepreneur managing a handful of employees, the realities of business management vary greatly, yet the principles which dictate success remain the same. Certainly, the existence and availability of such jobs across all sectors depends on the health of the economy itself.
While the global economic recovery continues to falter and companies remain cautious about hiring new blood, the opportunities for graduates to make their mark in the business world remain restricted. Steve Huxham, chairman of the Recruitment Society, was quick to express his satisfaction at the coalition government's Budget measure to raise the threshold above which employers start to pay national insurance by £21 from April 2011. However, he warned that such an initiative should simply be the first step in improving the country's employment opportunities. "One small step on its own isn't going to give entrepreneurs enough confidence to start employing people again," he said. "So I think you have to look at the wider view of what the government say they will do and not just the Budget."
Graduates are of course well aware they can not simply wait to see how the business environment will improve - they must go forth and make opportunities for themselves. For some, the answer could be the recruitment scheme of a huge, global management consultancy firm like Accenture. Operating in 48 countries around the world, the company aims to help clients become "high-performance businesses". Under this overarching aim, graduates with a diverse range of skills can find numerous employment opportunities.
"You control your own development and promotion is based entirely on the skills you acquire and the contribution you make, whilst flexible working programmes allow you to manage your schedule to suit you," says Accenture. "We look for people with more than just excellent academics. We need individuals who are passionate about something outside their studies, who have some work experience and a strong interest in business and technology." While applicants with strong IT skills may have a particular advantage, those signing up for Accenture's graduate recruitment scheme can also find opportunities in broader consultancy and management work.
Though some graduates may believe their degree is sufficient grounding for a career in business management, others may opt to do a postgraduate course at a specialist business school or enrol on the training programme of a management body. The Chartered Management Institute (CMI) claims that people who gain a professional qualification will likely earn £81,000 more over the course of their career than unqualified managers. Indeed, the body offers a range of flexible qualifications and training programmes to help people get ahead in the business world. Commenting on its own credentials, CMI notes: "We're the UK's only chartered body specialising in management and leadership. We literally set the national standards."
Sometimes, though, graduate job hunters must also take stock and consider their own skills before selecting a recruitment option. Business is a complex and ever-changing world in which all manner of attributes are required. University leavers should therefore think carefully about the best way to tailor their CVs to the demands of a particular position. Speaking to the Guardian, Ben Hayward, graduate recruitment executive at cosmetics company L'Oreal, said: "Put in your most relevant work experience first. Recruiters are so aware of students taking a shotgun approach to application. If it looks as if you've sent them a stock CV, you won't look committed."