How do employers view stopgap jobs? Photograph: Alamy
I had a pretty interesting mix of temporary jobs to pay my way through university. The high point was being a tour guide for drunken groups of Irish rugby fans visiting Cardiff – very good fun, by the way – and the low point was definitely, without doubt, the dreaded pork pie factory.
Much as I enjoyed the cash, and the occasional moment of camaraderie with colleagues, I certainly had no desire to return to any of those bar jobs, gruelling waitressing shifts or, of course, working with jelly-lined baked goods.
Luckily for me, I graduated back in the halycon days when you didn’t have to sell a kidney to find a graduate job (or so it seems). But, I think it’s safe to say this type of work is exactly what’s on the cards for swathes of graduates this summer. After all, a recent study revealed more than half of last year’s university leavers were either unemployed or working in menial jobs six months after graduation.
For the out-of-work grad though, taking a stop-gap job often presents something of a dilemma. As Sara Barnard highlighted in a recent Guardian Careers blog, there’s conflicting advice out there. On the one hand, graduates are told to flip burgers rather than face unemployment, while they are also warned that taking a low-skilled job can rob you of ambition and can lead to depression.
Plus, spare a thought for Guardian Careers poster @OutlawPete, who was accused of being a job-hopping commitment phobe during an interview, due to the fact he took three temporary jobs after having no joy landing a graduate role.
So, is any employment is better than no employment? To debate this and explore the benefits and drawbacks of a stop-gap job, we’ve invited a panel of employers, graduate experts and recent university leavers.
Join us on Tuesday 21 June – advance questions welcome below.
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Martin Birchall is managing director of High Fliers Research, an independent market research company which specialises in student and graduate recruitment research.
Sara Barnard is a junior content writer for an online healthcare company. Sara graduated in 2010 from the University of East Anglia. She worked in a call centre for three months during her job search.
Rob Cross is an expert in graduate and talent development and author of Grad Expectations: the essential guide for all graduates entering the workforce.
Charlie Ball is deputy director of research for HECSU, which provides news and information about research and development in career-related learning and career guidance in higher education.
Chris Whiteley is a careers coach and graduate scheme consultant.
Simon Corbett is the founder and managing director of Jargon Public Relations.
David Lurie is the managing director of Setsights – a career coaching, skills training and graduate development consultancy.
Nic Paton is a freelance journalist – who writes on business, employment, education, money and health – and author of The Complete Career Makeover, a book that explores issues including picking yourself up after redundancy, retraining, starting up a business and self employment and freelancing.
Gethin Jones has a postgraduate degree in Geography and Environmental Studies. He is currently applying for jobs in the Cardiff and Bristiol area, and working full-time as a temporary grounds maintenance person.
Joe Hallwood is founder of TEFL England, TEFL Wales and TEFL Scotland. Joe has worked in TEFL for many years including time as a teacher abroad and in the UK. He is a teacher trainer and every year advises thousands on TEFL careers both in the UK and abroad.
Libby Sutcliffe is 3G mindset champion at Reed Specialist Recruitment. The term 3G Mindset represents the most important mindset qualities employers seek. It first appeared in a new book by recruitment expert James Reed, which reveals that employers rate mindset over skills when they recruit.