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Job Hunting: Try Before You Sign

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For those looking to change direction in their career or to try and improve on their current job, the Times top 100 employers list is a great place to look. Although complied for graduates based on answers from university students, the list still has something to offer most people - simply because it's exhaustive and comprehensive.

There's the odd surprise in the list and a few companies that you may not have considered working for. McDonalds springs to mind as an obvious example. It's not the conventional dream job, but there it is, nestled at number 71 above the likes of Virgin and Credit Suisse. McDonalds is keen to encourage talented people into its company to run the vast array of fast food outlets that it owns. There's even a two-day 'try before you buy' taster course that allows prospective employees to try out a restaurant.

Accounting and finance advisory services remain the most popular kind of jobs, most graduates see them as professional employers with large salary offerings and good prospects. However, many people completely reject the issue of money and opt to take on a completely different kind of work. Oxfam is ranked at number 45 and is a few places up from last year's ranking. Many people, not just graduates, like the idea of taking on some charity work and giving something back to society.

The armed forces remain a popular choice for a career change and the Army, the Royal Navy and the RAF are all ranked in the top 50. Recruitment figures for the Ministry of Defence (MoD) have improved greatly due to trendy marketing campaigns and a more open system of recruitment. There is now greater flexibility in the kind of commission that you can receive as an officer and an increased level of training to prepare you for later life. MoD advertisements now make it clear that it is looking for a wide range of different skills, rather than just the typical infantry role.

Image and reputation are vital for employers and the MoD's alpine climb and fast attack team adverts have resulted in a huge upturn in applications. Marks & Spencer (M&S) has retained its reputation as a solid and successful employer with a sustained period of re-branding. Again, TV coverage and glossy adverts have had a part to play in the upturn in fortunes for the high street retailer. Most experienced staff will tell you that a maths test was compulsory for M&S in the past and that it was a privilege to work for them. It seems that gradually this reputation is being regained.

Modern technology companies like Google, Microsoft and Intel all make an appearance in the Times' list, but often it is the more traditional roles that attract greater interest. The police force was ranked at number 27 and remains popular with both graduates and employees in general. It seems that if someone is looking for a change then the police force is an obvious choice. Not only does it offer a comprehensive training package and a competitive wage, but also people like to increase in stature and becoming a policeman creates this impression for many.

Many analysts believe that the range of top employers listed shows the diverse nature of Britain's economy. Teaching, the emergency services and the civil service demonstrate the appeal of public services, yet the strong show of accountancy and other financial groups reveals the continued success of the private sector. A crisis on the high street is also not evident in the recruitment world, with Boots, M&S, McDonalds and John Lewis all launching recruitment schemes.

For the competent and skilled job seeker, the current recruitment climate is seemingly rather large and varied. Job sites run by the top newspapers are full of opportunities and there are few sectors that seem to offer nothing. Guardian Jobs, the Telegraph's recruitment section and the Times all demonstrate the recruitment power of the top 100.


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