It’s not all about big banks. There are plenty of other fish in the graduate hiring sea – they may not be as big, as prestigious, or hire as many people, but because they’re not very well-known, they may also offer a better ratio of applications to graduate places. After all, the large investment banks receive 82 applications per job.
This is how eFinancial Careers explain the current recruitment situation in their excellent blog post ‘4 financial services firms which you not be aware of, but which offer graduate training‘. The problem is, finding opportunities in smaller companies can be more difficult as a) they may not have the budgets to spend on massive advertising campaigns and b) they are less likely to be a well-known name, so even if you did come across them, you might not realise it…
But putting in that extra effort to find these companies now, can be well worth your while….
What can an SME (Small and Medium Enterprise) offer?
- Although SME’s by definition employ fewer than 250 staff members, they make up a massive 99.9% of all businesses in the UK – making them a great place to find graduate opportunities.
- Their selection processes tend to focus less on grades and more on the skills and work experience of their candidates.
- Their selection processes are often simpler and less time-consuming. Vacancies become available throughout the year rather than the set dates of recruitment schemes.
- As teams are generally smaller, you are more likely to be a part of a wide range of projects – making your job more flexible as well as giving you an opportunity to build different skills.
- Opportunities for promotion and to take on more responsibility often become available earlier on.
- You will have more direct personal contact with senior management – not just another face in the crowd.
How to locate opportunities at SMEs
- Approximately a third of SME’s rely on speculative applications from individuals who have researched the company and expressed their interest in working with them even though there no vacancies are advertised. Proactively seeking an employer can lead to a job.
- Unlike large organisations, SME’s often advertise in local, regional or specialist publications. Many employers also use recruitment agencies or their own industry’s professional body.
Websites to get you started and give you some ideas:
- Our vacancy site QM JobOnline has lots of opportunities with SMEs
- The Sunday Times Best Small Companies to Work For 2012
- Search the directories of the Federation of Small Businesses, Companies House and www.uksmallbusinessdirectory.co.uk
- The Yellow Pages website might sound a bit old-fashioned, but it’s a great way to find small companies in your area
- Professional Bodies and Associations often have lists of their members e.g. ACCA, CIM, IMechE. Check Total Professions to find the one for the industry you are interested in.
- Enternships – a website that connects students with start-ups and small businesses. Browse opportunities and companies.
After all that research – don’t waste it by sending a bad CV or speculative letter! Check out our guide to finding and applying for Unadvertised Jobs and remember you can always get feedback from a Careers Consultant.