Graduates told not ‘polished enough’ for the city. As I put the finishing touches to my school career tours I say learn from others.

Graduates told not ‘polished enough’ for the city. As I put the finishing touches to my school career tours I say learn from others.

1st Sept, the new school year is upon us and I’m finalising my career workshops for pupils. And just as I was writing up some additional Q&As and finalising the list of guest speakers, a report in today’s newspaper from the Social Mobility Commission catches my eye “Those lacking ‘polish’ still unsuited for life in the city”. Brown shoes, loud ties and ill fitting suits have all scuppered the chances of graduates hoping to become investment bankers. Even if their grades and interviews went well, their outward presentation was considered unacceptable.

Wrong, silly, unnecessary, whatever you, me or the world might think, outward presentation for this type of job with this clique of people and with their clientele is important. So my advice to pupils and graduates is don’t fall at the first hurdle. If you’ve passed all your exams, made the first cut on the CVs and you’ve been invited to the interview, then don’t get it wrong on the day!

Research the type of people who work in the sector you want to enter. It’s easy to google images, information and details online, so do it! This is the easy part.

These simple but often overlooked finishing touches are what will help you get the job. That is why, during the interval of the touring play I do with the National Youth Theatre, I bring on stage a selection of successful people from an array of backgrounds to talk to the pupils. To answer any questions the pupils have and also to confide in them mistakes like this they have made. Hearing from successful people their mistakes and mishaps is always helpful and memorable especially the moment when they discovered a job wasn’t for them. Some saying I wanted to work in an environment that fitted me, not one where I was always trying to fit in.

Pragmatism, realism, lessons in life, whatever you want to call it, such awareness and self knowledge is just as important as any qualification you’ll ever gain.

So listening to a successful lawyer in 2016 who decided they did not want to work for a big city firm because they did not want to conform in 2000, but chose instead to work for a smaller firm before setting up their own legal business is just as important as listening to another successful lawyer who did ‘conform’ and take the city job.

Hearing how they both had to overcome family pressures, for opposite reasons, one ‘for giving up on a big city life’ the other for ‘selling out’ is important too. But the ultimate tale is how they knew they were doing the right thing for them and then their tales of success.

So as I make my notes of which guests are appearing at which venue, I’ll bring these 2 very different lawyers, a city financier as well as a businesswoman, a doctor, a journalist and a scientist…..

But the message today having read that report, is don’t slip up at the easy hurdle or if you do then learn from it. If you decide you messed up but you want that job, then try again with fresh knowledge, and if you decide it wasn’t for you, then understand why and refine your choice.

The ‘You Can’ and ‘If Chloe Can’ tour starts 5th October …..

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