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John Maclean was an Australian rugby league player of some repute, and was poised to sign professional terms with a Sydney-based NRL team. To maintain his fitness in the offseason, he trained for a triathlon. Whilst out on his bike, he was hit from behind by a truck. The accident rendered MacLean paraplegic, wheelchair-bound and his career in tatters.

“A degree is no longer the differentiator, it is norm. How could I possibly stand out from the crowd?”

Not to be deterred, MacLean entered the Hawaiian Ironman, becoming the first wheelchair athlete to finish the race within the able-bodied cut off times.

MacLean continued to inspire with achievements such as representing Australia in front of his home crowd at the Sydney olympics, swimming the English channel, hand-cycling the perimeter of Australia and winning a silver medal at the World Rowing Championships.

Inspired by MacLean’s story, I decided to enter the Ironman myself in 2012. My reasoning was also partly fuelled by my experience in the graduate jobs market.

I had entered university as a mature student in 2009, and it became immediately apparent that the competition for jobs at the end of my degree would be severely intense. We are producing a generation of graduates, all equally qualified and talented. A degree is no longer the differentiator, it is norm. How could I possibly stand out from the crowd?

Looking at the types of careers I wanted at the end of my degree, it became apparent that employers were searching for individuals with “soft skills” – skills they could bring into the work place which would allow them to work effectively as part of a team. I knew I had to develop concrete examples of soft skills that would appeal to an employer – as evidence of achievements which would demonstrate that I am worth employing.

Hence the Ironman. What better way to demonstrate resilience, motivation and determination? I was quickly realising that extra-curricular efforts were the surefire way to become employable, and that framing each activity within the context of skills was of massive importance.

Times have changed. The successful people of this era will be those who are adaptable, learn quickly and add value. Graduates need to think in terms of their skills and what they can offer their future employer. They should then spend their time at university relentlessly accruing examples of these skills and evidencing them to show what a highly-valued employee they would make.

The best graduates are career-savvy from the beginning.

“Looking at the types of careers I wanted at the end of my degree, it became apparent that employers were searching for individuals with ‘soft skills'”

The oversupply of graduates in the market makes the process equally as tough for employers. How do they attract the best talent for their company’s future health?

The best companies realise that constant engagement is the key. The generation they are trying to communicate with are internet-savvy and perpetually connected. They are looking for the next tidbit of content which will feed their mind and grasp their interest. Social media is THE platform through which the best employers will engage regularly with future candidates.

What is more powerful than an interesting video about what a great career with your organisation looks like?

Consistent, interesting interaction with students and graduates will ensure a pipeline of talent which will furnish your graduate recruitment campaigns for years to come. Applicants will have already engaged with your company’s message, and be aware of your requirements. They will have built relationships with your company online and know what it takes to be a valuable employee of your company.

Kloodle is a social network for graduate recruitment and student employability, designed to facilitate this connectivity between employers, students, and universities. Kloodle allows students to evidence their skills by media uploads such as pictures, video, blog posts and work documents.

If Kloodle had been around in my undergraduate days, I would have created a blog post describing my journey towards the Welsh Ironman. I would then have tagged in “resilience” and “self-motivation” as skills, and displayed the evidence to any employer who viewed my profile (incidentally at The process of regularly updating my profile would have provided me clarity on my employability, helping me to realise what I could offer any potential employer.

“The best graduates are career-savvy from the beginning.”

Employers are able to create their organisation profile on Kloodle. They can then use this to interact with students through status posts, blogs, photos and videos. A number of employers have recently changed their strategy from “competency” based recruitment to strength based recruitment. They could disseminate this information to their potential applicants through their Kloodle profile via video, reaching the newsfeeds of students interested in their graduate schemes. They could also run a challenge to create the best blog post on a student’s experience in acquiring a particular strength, and engage students with their employer brand that way.

In the later application stages, they could look at their final applicant’s Kloodle profile and get a concrete insight into the personality of the potential candidates they are going to select – a real insight into their tenacity, engagement, drive and self motivation.

We are aiming to make a one stop shop, an aspirational platform where students can realise their career dreams and employers can furnish their organisation with the very best talent the UK has to offer.

Get started today at

Incidentally, I managed to complete the Tenby Ironman in 2012 in a time of 13 hours 15 minutes. I can only imagine how tough it would have been for John MacLean…

Phillip Hayes is Co-Founder at Kloodle.

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