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The Millennial Mindset: Facing the Facts on Graduate Client Facing Roles

Posted by: Megan Speet

I’m sure any Recruitment Consultant who works within the junior or graduate market will tell you that “the candidates we work with are a completely different kettle of fish to others.” Not ostensibly because of their lack of experience compared to the more senior candidates; but because they look for, or rather expect, more from a role without the actual relevant experience.

Of course when you’re working with this level of candidate you know, as well as the client in most cases, that experience isn’t what we should be focusing on (mainly). The focus should instead be on their attitude, personality, drive and general motivation moving forward in their career. One thing I have definitely realised when working with graduates is that you can 100% teach a skill, but you cannot teach an attitude. However, there are roles in which experience is pivotal in order to sustain your credibility with a client; such positions I would claim, are client facing sales roles.

Consultant: So, what kind of role interests you? What have you been applying for?
Graduate Candidate: Mainly client facing roles.
Consultant: Okay, great! What experience do you have dealing with clients in a client facing role?
Graduate Candidate: None.
Consultant: What experience do you have dealing with clients in any role?
Graduate Candidate: None.
Consultant: Oh...

A conversation myself, my colleagues and I’m sure many other graduate Consultants have had on more than one occasion. A recent study showed 75% of customers have given more business as a result of positive and professional client facing experiences. With 52% of customers saying they would spend more money as a result of this as well. Surely then, from a business standpoint, would you trust a fresh graduate to go on a client meeting to pitch a client on a product and still retain those statistics of repeat business by professional credibility? Of course, there are always exceptions. But predominantly someone who has little to no experience dealing with clients, handling rejection and objections and making mistakes would learn and develop much more in an office/telephone based role. The expression starting from the bottom springs to mind.

Of course I do also believe it is part of the company’s responsibility to nurture and develop their new starters, but I also think that candidates should be realistic. The aim should not be to work at the bottom of the ladder; the aim should be to start there, and climb your way to the top.

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