If you asked a company boss “What is a new graduate worth to you?” you’d expect them to say “Not much”, “As little as I can get away with paying”, or “Nothing! The experience they gain is payment enough”. Right?
At times, it feels as if employers are determined to pay graduates the bare minimum. The official average graduate salary is £29,000 — but many of Graduate Fog’s readers say your wages are nowhere near that, and official new stats this week appeared to back up your claims. Which is why it’s always heart-warming to hear from bosses who do pay their graduates a decent salary that rewards them fairly for the contribution.
Do these companies really exist? Yes! Newton Europe was recently voted the best consulting company for graduates to work for by TheJobCrowd — paying their new starters £38,000. They even pay their interns £22,000. And the best bit? Graduate applicants don’t need any prior experience — Newton Europe gladly accepts its responsibility to train you up to do the job (unlike the many employers who expect you to self-train, in the form of unpaid internships).
Here, Kevin Jones, one of the firm’s Founding Directors, explains why his company feels it’s important to pay their graduates fairly for their work. If you’re job-hunting at the moment, we hope it serves to remind you that good employers are out there…
What does your company do, what opportunities do you offer graduates – and what do you pay them?
“Newton Europe is an Oxford-based operational performance improvement specialist, working with clients including British Airways, BAE Systems, Nissan and several NHS Trusts. We recruit operational improvement consultants in three areas – operational, procurement and supply chain and business technology. The package amounts to £38,000, including company car plus a £4,000 sign-on bonus.”
Why do you think graduates are worth that salary?
“We recruit the best graduates from the best universities and train them thoroughly so that they can deliver huge value to our clients and hit the ground running in their respective careers. To attract the best graduates, we must offer attractive, competitive packages. We also want people to be fairly rewarded for their hard work and the exceptional skills they bring, while also encouraging long-term career development.”
What do you think is the minimum salary that employers should pay a graduate in their first job after university?
“Of course, that can vary hugely, depending on the industry and specialism. Salaries in the consulting market tend to be a lot higher than most industries, and we base ours at the higher end of the industry benchmark as an incentive to hard-working graduates.”
What experience do you expect your new graduate hires to have?
“We don’t expect new graduates to have experience — that’s where we come in. We have a comprehensive training programme which includes a five-week induction, ongoing learning and development – different modules are offered at different career stages — and a development manager is assigned on day one. The senior management at Newton Europe deliver all our training. We also put employees through external accreditation to maximise their potential.”
In your experience, are graduate salaries dropping or stagnating? If so, why is this?
“We can’t comment on the graduate market as a whole, but we do constantly benchmark graduate salaries in the consulting industry. Again, we aim to pay at the top end, so when there are rises across the market, we change our packages to suit. It may be part of why we were recently named best consulting company for graduates to work for by online review site TheJobCrowd.com.”
Many graduates find themselves working for low (or no) pay in their first job after uni. Is their work worth more than their employers lead them to believe?
“At Newton Europe, we personally value the work our people do and all internships are paid very generously (circa £22k). Graduates take on responsibility from day one and are quickly delivering value to our clients. Our employees are our product, and fundamentally, we want that product to perform well in a competitive market, so we aim to develop them in the most effective way possible.”
Many graduates are angry that many employers don’t even respond with a short rejection email if their application has been unsuccessful. Do you respond to every application — and do you think all employers should?
“Naturally, we cannot speak for other employers, but we certainly respond to every application. We value all respondents, and even if they are initially unsuccessful, they may be successful in the future, so it makes sense to keep encouraging good applicants in their aspirations as we continue to aim to fill the best positions with the best candidates. It’s counter-productive to dishearten an applicant so much that they never re-apply and potentially discourage others from doing likewise.”
Many graduates feel employers take advantage, making young jobseekers jump through hoops. How many stages are there in your application process?
“We have a robust three-stage graduate recruitment process including testing, assessment centre and final interview, including a dinner the night before, so the candidate can meet more of the people that work at Newton. This highly tailored process represents a significant investment of time from both our senior assessors and the candidates. It is also designed to ensure that graduates have the opportunity to see what it is like to be a member of the Newton team and decide if it is right for them, so it is very much a two-way process. It is very important for the individual applicant and Newton that we make the right decision, so the investment of time on both sides is worth it.”
Do you think some employers make their process unnecessarily demanding and time-consuming for graduates?
“We assume employers demand what is necessary for the roles they offer. Newton Europe doesn’t have a lengthy application form as the value for us comes primarily from the interaction with the candidate. Our tests are not typical off-the-shelf tests; they represent specific, bespoke examinations that have been designed by us to filter out, refine and pinpoint what we are looking for. For instance, in one of our case studies – based on a real project – part of the assessment is testing for client interaction skills. We ask that they present their findings to us as if they are trying to win the project. That ensures that there is a real life, industry-ready aspect to the process, and that candidates are immediately aware of what is being demanded of them.”
What advice do you have for job-seeking graduates?
“Never provide a blanket application — always undertake lengthy research, show a particular interest, and develop awareness and understanding of the company. Put in the work and your efforts to be the best possible candidate for the role will shine through. Making a conscious effort to showcase your personality and thinking of what an employer would like to see in a candidate can pay real dividends — for instance, do preparatory work before careers fairs and selection days, then take time to introduce yourself and show your interest in the company. Primarily, be memorable in the best way — proactive, well presented, and eager to impress.”
What are the biggest misconceptions among the graduates you meet?
“That you have to come from an engineering background to work for us — that’s simply not true. We seek those analytically minded, and those who come from diverse graduate backgrounds. We also feel that candidate quotas can be misconstrued, and we’re sure many employers find the same thing. Graduates often think that we will automatically put through a certain amount in a selection day, when really we only put through those who are right for the role.
“Additionally, candidates often think that they are competing against each other, when really they just need to do themselves justice. This can result in them looking outside of themselves too much and perceiving strengths and weaknesses in others that may not actually be there, to the detriment of their own efforts.
“Likewise, candidates often think that there are only a certain amount of places to fill. Of course, we have targets, but if we had a target of 15 people and 20 were suitable, then we would recruit all 20. That just shows that candidates must continue to concentrate throughout the entire process — and the rewards can be greater than they may have expected.”
Are you hiring at the moment?
“At Newton we recruit all year round. We recruit for graduate positions in all three consulting areas — operational, procurement and supply chain and business technology. We do not demand any specific qualifications, or have a minimum set of criteria, all we require is that they pass the initial online technical reasoning test. To apply, graduates simply send their CV with a cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
*SHOULD MORE EMPLOYERS PAY THEIR GRADUATES A FAIRER WAGE?
What do you think of Newton Europe’s attitude towards recruiting and paying their graduates? What experience have you had with graduate employers? Having read this article, do you feel you’re being low-balled on wages? Should graduates raise their expectations and demand fairer salaries and better training from employers?