Equine graduates: how to get your first job [H&H VIP]

  • Searching for newly employed graduates in the equine sector, it soon becomes clear that there are far more people trying to kick-start their careers than those happily settled in secure positions. Which begs the question: are equine jobseekers struggling?

    With hundreds of new equine studies graduates every year, is our recession-afflicted industry running out of positions to cater for them?

    Hannah Wild set up Supplement Solutions, an online outlet, 10 years ago and often employs graduates.

    “As an equine degree holder myself, I understand the difficulties,” says Hannah. “I ended up working as an equine groom for a year after I graduated, followed by a series of office jobs, before setting up my own equine business 5 years later.”

    Hannah believes graduates need to be realistic about their salary expectations in the equestrian industry, too.

    “Many new equine graduates expect a starting salary of £20k or a salary in line with other graduates, but the equine industry is not a place to earn high wages,” she explains. “The hard part is getting your foot in the door. You may have to accept a lower salary to start with, especially as most graduates are happy just to get a job in the industry.”

    Are colleges failing their students?

    So how do you go about getting that vital foot on the ladder?

    “Colleges need to prepare graduates much more for the industry, with mock interviews, helping with applications and bringing industry speakers in,” Hannah believes. “If they worked more to find out what employers were looking for, the system would be much better.

    “Students also need to be realistic and maybe think twice about graduating with yet another equine degree.”

    Peter Morris, equine development director at the Royal Agricultural University (RAU), believes it isn’t all doom and gloom. But he does stress the importance of gaining work experience, saying it is absolutely essential.

    “The RAU runs a successful 20-week work placement scheme,” he says. “It’s clear there is still a lot of goodwill in the UK and global equine industries to help people seeking jobs to get a foot on the career ladder.

    “Finding a way to gain experience is key to getting the right job; thereby acquiring not only particular industry skills but good interpersonal skills.

    “It all starts with relevant research into the particular job area, a well-written CV and initial contact and a positive and persistent approach.”

    Tips for applications and interviews

    ➤ Follow instructions — if the advert says post your CV and covering letter to a given name and address, do exactly that.
    ➤ Always include your full contact details.
    ➤ Adjust the covering letter to suit the particular role.
    ➤ Use common sense, show initiative and don’t be shy.
    ➤ Find out more about the role before you apply.
    ➤ Learn about the company before your interview.
    ➤ Be prepared for the interview and be yourself. Be honest, too — if you decide it’s not for you, say so.
    ➤ Make an effort with your appearance, be on time for interviews and show you are interested.
    ➤ Be confident about yourself and show what you could bring to the company.
    ➤ Work out the logistics of travel and/or accommodation if you were to be offered the position.
    ➤ Be realistic about salary and wages. The equine industry is not particularly well paid.
    With thanks to Hannah Wild of Supplement Solutions

    To find out how recent equine graduates found the job seeking process after graduation, and whether they were successful in getting a job, turn to p62 (16 January, 2014 magazine)