It has been in the press recently that Britain’s Elite Firms are being seen to ‘exclude bright working class’ individuals. Do you agree?

Over recent years the government has sought to ensure that continuing your education through to University level is something that will be available for everyone and anyone willing to do so but what happens next? An interesting discussion can be had as to what your career prospects will be by the University you have chosen to go to. In a recent survey it has been found that despite attempts to improve social inclusion over the past 10 to 15 years, such elite firms continue to be heavily dominated at entry level by people from privileged social backgrounds, some 60 - 70% of all job offers are received by candidates who have attended ‘red-brick’ universities.

Firms which have 20,000 people applying for 1,000 jobs are just not prepared to go to an unusual university in search of a “diamond in the rough”. Prof Les Ebdon, director of Fair Access to Higher Education, said: “Access to graduate careers should be about your skills and ability to do the job, not about the places you’ve been, the school you went to or the contact you have.”

However, many firms are now beginning to acknowledge the need for change and are seeking to discover commercially aware candidates who will lead to business success rather than just raw academic ability in the first instance. Many firms are now choosing to understand what the candidates motives are for joining the firm – what do they want to get out of it as well as what the firm is hoping to get out of them. Some firms are now even looking to hire the super-ambitious candidates who will outgrow the role quickly but may evolve the business around them in the process.

So, how can you stand out from the crowd no matter where you are from?

Determination to Succeed: Whether this be clear within an example of something you have done at work or in your own time, climbing a mountain or running a race the ability to demonstrate your will to succeed is a powerful tool to make you memorable.

A ‘can do’ attitude: Be prepared to learn something new and apply yourself everyday.

Ambition: Have a plan! Where do you see yourself in five years? Show that you have thought about your career path not just one step at a time.

Leadership and Influencing Skills: Demonstrate how you can influence wider teams in the business through consultation and collaboration, rather than through pulling rank – Everyone wants a strong team player.

Harriet Butler Consultant

Harriet Butler
Consultant

Go beyond the basics and focus on how you've adapted your message and communication style for different audiences.

Understanding the Bigger Picture: Rather than a narrow focus on the role or department, broaden your appeal by demonstrating an understanding of the wider context of the business and industry. Show interest in how the role has an impact on the organisation as a whole.