Securing a graduate role. Tips on what not to do!

The following article has been written by Kelly Pfeffer, Global Student Talent Acquisition at GHD. Kelly has been sharing her expertise with the genYOU Community right from the start, and we are exceptionally grateful to be able to continue mining her wisdom.

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In thirteen years of recruiting university students, I have experienced some ‘gems’ over the years, and I’m not talking about the awesome grads I’ve met and hired, but the scratch your head ‘I can’t believe they just did that’ kind of gems.

The good, the bad and the ugly of candidate behaviour is a constant topic of conversation (and laughs) between my peers in the graduate talent space….and yes we do all talk to each other despite competing for the same talent.

Firstly, I acknowledge that we all come from different backgrounds, with different views and different cultural norms, so I can somewhat understand why some of these things happen.  However, what I really want you to understand and take away from this is that these examples are not well received by employers and will definitely not help you secure a role.

Below is a list of things I have personally witnessed and/or experienced from candidates:

  • Using abbreviated/slang words/emoji’s in emails
  • Referencing the wrong company in the cover letter (beware when you mass produce applications)
  • Turning up at the assessment centre uninvited (because you got the time and address from your friend who was invited)
  • Pulling out of the process the morning of your interview
  • Just not turning up to an interview and not letting anyone know (this happens regularly and is poor form!)
  • Ignoring communication (thinking that withdraws you from the process)
  • Asking for extensions to deadlines after the deadline has already passed
  • Having your parent ring on your behalf (because you missed a deadline)
  • Asking questions that are clearly already provided on the website
  • Responding to feedback with anger/arrogance (we’re just trying to help you)
  • Accepting an offer and then reneging (big time bad!)

Reneging offers seems to be a trend that is increasing in recent times.  I’m not sure where the momentum for this has come from.  I’ve even heard from my peers that some graduates just don’t show up on day one.  I can’t tell you enough how career damaging this can be.  From my very first tip mentioned above…we recruiters do talk to each other….so please don’t think we don’t know about it.

Now, my intent is not to point all the negativity at candidates….sometimes we recruiters do not get it right either and there can be some questionable practices out there.  However, remember, you can only control what you do…you cannot control the process or the person in charge of that process.

Recruiters are looking for graduates who are professional and courteous.  Your actions and what you say will tell them a lot about your character and how much you care about the opportunity.  Don’t jeopardise this by being lazy, unprepared and disrespectful.


About Kelly

Kelly is Project Lead, Global Student Talent Acquisition at GHD. In this role, she supports the business to attract and recruit graduate talent across North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Kelly has been specialising in the graduate recruitment and development space for over 10 years and has also managed programs in Queensland Government, Suncorp and TechnologyOne. Actively engaged in the industry in Australia, Kelly has also volunteered on the Board and Committee of the Australian Association of Graduate Employers. She is also a strong advocate for #noFilter advice.