Another academic year is over, and it's brought a fresh crop of young hopefuls with degrees and diplomas onto the jobs market. These aren't the best times for graduates and college leavers seeking work, with fierce competition for every job. And as public sector cuts continue to bite, it's unlikely the situation will improve quickly.
Even for those lucky enough to find work, starting salaries are expected to remain stagnant for the third year in a row, according to the Association of Graduate Recruiters. Now, more than ever, graduates need to stand out from the crowd, by marketing themselves and being flexible in their career choices.
Bob Gentle is managing director of Aberdeen-based digital media company Northeast Creative. He's expanding his web design team and has taken on a new member of staff who, he says, has not only the skills he needed, but put in time and effort and made himself indispensable. For Bob, initiative is more important than a CV.
'Chris Smith is 19, graduated from Aberdeen College last year and has been working in the Co-op since then. He had the qualifications but we were looking for something more.'
Bob called Chris in for a chat, liked what he saw and offered him a two-week try-out period. 'Within a day I knew he was right. We gave him a loose verbal brief and in a couple of hours he had a working mock-up ready to show a customer. That was enough for me.'
For Chris Smith, the first step was tough. ' I found it hard to put myself out there and attract attention, but you have to stand out from the crowd to get noticed in such a competitive industry.'
He wanted work in the north-east, but there was very little being advertised for the design industry in local papers and on the internet.
So he started to send out his CV, and then got a call from Bob Gentle. 'It was a relief to be getting somewhere after looking for almost a year. He invited me in for a chat and offered me some work experience to show what I could do. I was lucky to be offered a full-time job.'
His advice for others? 'Be adaptable. Realise you won't find your dream job at the first attempt, but once you're in the company, you can progress your career from there.'
'The most important thing,' says Bob, 'is that Chris was having a go. He was prepared to put in the effort to get his work noticed. Don't wait for someone to hand you work. If people see you've got initiative, that will go a long way to actually being offered a job.'