Features | Getting ahead with graduate jobs

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Leaving University can be daunting, but there are more opportunities available to graduates than ever before.


Students are beginning their search for graduate jobs earlier than ever before, and with the total number of graduate jobs set to further increase in 2014, there are a record amount of opportunities available to graduates.

High Fliers recently reported that graduate vacancies at organisations featured in The Times Top 100 Graduate has increased in 2014 by 8.7%, the biggest annual rise in graduate recruitment for four years.

But competition is high; on average, 57% of students now have a 2.1 or higher, making degree classification of less use as a selection tool. With the average number of applications rising to 85 per place, graduates need to find more innovative ways to stand out from the crowd.

The most competitive sectors such as banking and law reported a record of over 150 applications per position, but these levels of interest are hardly surprising given the high salaries on offer. The most generous starting salaries are those on offer from investment banks and law firms which average at around £40,000.

Although spending on marketing graduate jobs has slightly decreased over the past 3 years, the country’s leading employers have been actively marketing their 2014 graduate vacancies at over 20 UK universities. Less emphasis has been placed on advertising in sector guides, local guides and graduate directories and more focus has been placed on direct contact with students.

During this years recruitment campaigns, graduate recruiters have put more importance on social media, campus presentations, and university careers services. You can read countless job descriptions on business websites but meeting representatives from the company is by far the best way to gain further insight into a company’s culture, opportunities and business. It gives you the incredible occasion to make contacts which could be invaluable if you use them to their full potential.

Any experience you have gained is good experience and the key is to always make whatever experience you have relevant for the job you’re applying for but it’s becoming increasingly important to try and gain work experience in companies you would like to work in. Recruiters have confirmed that half of this year’s entry level positions are expected to be filled by gradates who have already worked for their organizations, either through industrial placements or sponsorships.

Fortunately more than four-fifths of the UK’s leading graduate employers are offering paid work experience programmes for students and recent graduates during the 2013/2014 academic year – with a record 11,819 places available.

One thing to note; don’t dismiss small or medium sized businesses. Over 99% of businesses fall into this category and there are thousands that are desperate to hire bright young graduates – but they may not advertise in the obvious places as it’s expensive, so do some extra investigating to track them down.

Completing job applications is undoubtedly a challenging and time consuming process. When time is short, focus on the role’s essential requirements to make yourself more desirable. Companies want to see why you should be singled out as the optimal employee, and how you will make a positive impact and contribution to their workplace.

Finally, don’t be disheartened if you are turned down from positions, if the recruiter doesn’t think you suit the job, it’s definitely for the best that you carry on searching until you find something that really is perfect for you. Not only are there more jobs available than ever before but surprisingly, in 2013 30% of graduate recruiters did not fill all their vacancies – the right jobs are evidently out there for promising candidates.


Stephanie Nicolaides

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