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FDM is one of Europe's fastest growing international IT companies and is the UK's leading IT graduate employer. It is well known for its unique Graduate Programme that combines quality IT training with a minimum of two-years commercial work experience. With over 200 clients in various sectors worldwide, the firm houses offices in ten vibrant cities including London, Frankfurt, Zurich, New York, Canada, Hong Kong and Singapore.
Name: Madeleine Field
Job Title: Recruitment Strategy Manager - FDM Group
University: Open University
Course: Politics, Philosophy and Economics
Name: Leanne Lawrence
Job Title: IT Consultant - FDM Group
University: University of Sheffield
"…I think my success in obtaining the job was down to my ability to convey and articulate my strengths. Whilst I had no prior experience in Project Management or IT, I had done my research…"
What competencies do you like to see in candidates?
I see a number of candidates every day at our assessment centres and those that stand out for me demonstrate enthusiasm, motivation, a keen interest in technology, an analytical mind and logical thinking.
Can you talk us through the application process?
We are always on the lookout for high-calibre graduates who want to progress their career in IT and become a leader in the industry. Unlike many graduate employers, FDM hires all year round holding assessment days weekly and, in the summer months, daily.
Firstly, potential candidates will need to send us their CV via our website and if they pass the screening processes, a member of the recruitment team will call you to arrange a telephone interview. Your phone interview will involve talking about your educational and work related backgrounds, your current situation and your future career goals. If you pass the telephone interview stage, you will be invited to one of our assessment centres in London, Manchester or Brighton.
The assessment will focus on your interpersonal and technical skill sets, and will also allow you to gain an understanding of FDM's working environment and visit our training Academy. At the assessment, you will complete a number of tasks and exercises that will assess your technical skills and business knowledge.
What is the most common mistake you see in an application, which leads to candidates being rejected?
The most common mistakes I see are spelling and grammatical errors. Proof reading your CV and covering letter really does make the difference. It shows that you pay attention to detail and have good written communication skills. I also see many applications from people who do not actually know what they are applying for i.e. generic applications from graduates hopeful for any job in any industry and no evidence of an interest in technology.
What is the main piece of advice you would give a graduate entering the Computing and IT sector?
Identify an area of technology that you are most interested in and have the most to contribute to. Saying that you have a keen interest in social media because you have a Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn account is not enough. You need to demonstrate what skills you have or would like to learn and why. The more generic piece of advice for any graduate looking for any job would be to research the company you are applying for and express that knowledge in your interview, CV and covering letter.
What's the main challenge graduates face when they start?
The biggest challenge for graduates when finding their first job out of university is the infamous Catch-22: holding the necessary academic qualifications to do the job but not possessing the relevant industry experience. FDM has a strong belief in bridging the gap between academia and the workplace; in fact, it is the fundamental reason why we created our unique Graduate Programme.
We offer graduates the opportunity to be trained in one of our five academies worldwide to gain industry relevant certifications and further learning about current IT disciplines. After completing this training, graduates must work for FDM for a minimum of two years on one or more of our client sites, thus allowing graduates to become fully fledged IT Consultants with at least two years commercial work experience.
Where do you see the company in two years' time?
FDM is all about growth: our CEO founded the company in 1990 in the loft of his Brighton flat, now we have ten offices worldwide and have kick-started the IT careers of thousands of graduates. We will continue this rapid expansion in the UK and across the globe with our new flagship London office next in line. We will be moving to the other side of London Bridge and our office will be three times the size of our current one in Monument.
With regards to the HR graduate programme, we tend to recruit similar numbers each year. We don't like our intake numbers to get too big because we treat our graduates as individuals.
If you weren't a Recruitment Strategy Manager, what would you be?
I love working with people so that is vital to any career path I choose, I also enjoy helping people and I absolutely have to work for a company where my contribution is valued. Failing that, I'd be a professional golfer!
Was there a particular strategy or method you stuck to when applying for graduate jobs?
There wasn't a specific method I stuck to when applying for graduate positions but I did find it helpful to explore the potential career paths and opportunities that my particular degree or skillset would enable me to do. This really acted as a filter for me as I was not spending time applying to jobs which would be deemed far out of my reach.
What made you choose FDM?
I was approaching the end of my degree in Economics and whilst I had considered a career in Project Management, many businesses required relevant industry experience, something that many graduates lack. I was pleasantly surprised to find that there was an organisation out there that catered to graduates and were willing to invest in them and provide an opportunity to work for some of the most influential organisations in the world.
Why do you think you were successful in getting the job?
I think my success in obtaining the job was down to my ability to convey and articulate my strengths. Whilst I had no prior experience in Project Management or IT, I had done my research into the skills that were required to be successful within the role. I was able to demonstrate my potential to fulfil the role despite my lack of experience. I believe that in any job interview you have to be assertive and confident in your own abilities. Many companies aren't expecting you to be the finished article, but they just want to see how you would deal with particular situations and challenges given the right training and guidance.
What one piece of advice would you give to fresh graduates starting their job hunt?
Explore your options - it really is important to explore all options and opportunities and to concentrate on what you can do as opposed to what you can't. Many industries have some common ground and the right pitch and some additional training could open hidden doors to new careers.
How much do you think your degree played a part in your success?
I studied Economics at the University of Sheffield and I do believe that my degree was the stepping stone in paving the way for my career or at least getting me that first interview. Your degree and higher education provides you with the core skills to enable you to logically reason and think. However, I do believe that your higher education tends to become increasingly less relevant as you progress up the career ladder. You are not so much commended on your degree type or classification but on your ability and proven track experience in actually fulfilling a role.
What's the best experience you've had whilst working for FDM?
FDM are really keen on keeping their employees engaged whether on site or in office. Whilst I am now placed as a Consultant in a leading Investment Bank, I am never left out or removed from the activities that are taking place at FDM. They really do reward your efforts and hard work, whether this is through their Consultant of the Month nominations, commendations in the monthly newsletter or the all expenses paid annual Summer Party.
If you had to do the whole job hunt again, from graduating to starting your first graduate role, what would you do differently?
If I had to do it all again and without the help of FDM, I would definitely explore pursuing further qualifications to get me on par with other entry level professionals within the field. FDM has successfully tapped into the notion of providing their trainees with a head start by training them and enabling them to undergo industry recognised qualifications within a short space of time.
I definitely believe that this has been positive influence in my career path, whether it is the PRINCE2 qualifications or the VBA and SQL training, they have all helped to shape me into a more attractive "prospect" for employers.
If you want to find out more about graduate jobs with FDM Group, please take a look at their minisite.
Ranked 9 of 40 sectors
The popularity index ranks the sectors graduates chose most frequently during registration since 2000.
Average salary for jobs in Computing & IT compared to the average salary for all jobs posted to graduate-jobs.com
Percentage of graduates who studied a degree related to Computing & IT that have found relevant work since 2012: 85%
The Computing and IT sector is very broad and with this comes a selection of different ways candidates can strengthen their applications. From data analysis to web design and programming, Computing graduates have a special set of skills to offer employers that can be extremely beneficial. One thing that might be worth considering is trying to specialise in a certain area. Graduate schemes in Computing and IT are also available at some of the bigger organisations, allowing Computing graduates to show their potential and specialise later.
The field is constantly evolving and companies look for skilled graduates to come into the workplace brimming with fresh and innovative ideas that can really add a dynamic edge. Candidates coming to the field from a degree subject that was not related might find it difficult to make headway in the sector due to skills and experiences provided at university. Unless a candidate can really supply excellent technical skills outside of their education, it is unlikely will look for anything less than a formal higher qualification in a related field. The sector has a lot in common with the Science and Technology sector, with many skills applicable in both.
The important thing to get across in either applications or interviews is the extent of a candidate's technical skills. This is important for graduates in this field as their skills can really set them apart from other applicants. Graduates should try to have a speciality that combines some high quality work with what the company they are applying for does. For example, if a candidate is applying for a web designing position, they should take in some examples of their work. The best way to impress a potential employer is having a concise and impressive portfolio that documents the variety and extent of what they can offer. Also bear in mind that the portfolio should be tailored and altered for certain applications to emphasise certain skills.
The main way to get through the first hurdle of applications is if a candidate has a solid set of academic qualifications to back up their skills. This could be a good classification of their degree, which is preceded by great A Levels and the core GCSEs of Maths, English and Science. While these might not be totally applicable and might not prove a proficiency in a certain area, it is a way of indicating to employers that the candidate is educated, driven and ready to work hard. If a candidate is able to supplement their degree with relevant activities undertaken at university, this would be an excellent bonus. This could have been helping a branch of student media with a website or online presence.
Recruiters in the more technical areas of Computing and IT still look for superb communication skills. One of the issues with graduates that have excellent technical ability is that they also need to be able to transpose these skills, technical ideas and issues to someone without the same level of understanding. This must be in both written and oral forms. Being able to relate complex ideas and concepts to someone in layman's terms is vital to any success a candidate might have. A candidate might provide examples of where they have been brought in for expert advice to help on technical matters during extracurricular activities.
Different aspects of Computing and IT require specific skills to appear as an ideal candidate. With the Security and Cyber Crime industry being on top of current affairs and technological developments is key to impressing in interviews and applications. Giving examples of the latest technology or recent news worthy crimes that relate to the company and making that a talking point will really excite employers.
If a candidate is applying to a Data Systems or Communications role they must have a great understanding of appropriate programmes. This advice is also applicable to many fields involved with Computing and IT. Candidates would be advised to provide evidence of mastering certain programmes that they suspect a company uses. For example, if they were applying for a Computing role in the Communications industry, exceptional use of the Adobe Suite, along with examples of this, would put them ahead in the game.
When going for a Data Systems role, impressive knowledge of programmes like Microsoft SQL and SQL Server Integration Services would be beneficial. Candidates should think about what programmes might be needed for any role and even attempting to find out from the employer so they can get to grips with it themselves. Data analysts tend to be based in other sectors so knowledge of an industry's data, be it business, health or crime, would be helpful.
One area that Computing and IT skills are really valued is in Web Design and Development. In the modern era, all companies need a website to advertise and be a resource for customers to learn about their trade. If a candidate is excellent at designing and developing websites they will be a valuable asset to any company. Candidates would be advised to provide a detailed portfolio to prove this. Preferably exhibiting a variety of styles and documenting different, non-existent companies. This will show employers that this candidate is enthusiastic, keen to prove themselves to employers and has the evidence to back it up.
Candidates could benefit from an accreditation or qualification if they were going into certain fields. For example, The Council of Registered Ethical Security Testers (CREST) would be evidence for the employer of their security and safety capabilities.
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