Anne-Marie Martin: All the recruiters need is for students to forsake the World Cup for a few hours

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Pity the hapless graduate recruiter. They are faced with recruitment targets that are higher than ever. Their firms expect graduate recruits to be "work ready", full of appropriate skills, focused on their careers and willing and able to contribute immediately to the success of their organisation. This is a tall order when the sun is shining. Graduates are free at last from the rigours of study and are looking forward to their last long summer holiday. Many want to defer for as long as possible the evil day when their life in employment starts.

This year the recruiters had an extra headache. Until 6 June, because of "action short of a strike" by academic staff, my phone rang hot with employers worried that the degree results would not be issued before their recruits were due to start work. Fortunately an agreement has now been reached, exams are being marked and results should appear in time for provisional job offers to be confirmed. As a result the summer recruitment fairs have reported a last-minute dash for exhibition stands.

All the recruiters need now is for students to forsake the World Cup for a few hours. The cannier organisers have made sure that the football is being broadcast alongside the more usual recruitment activities. And many events have added competitions and other attractions, like presentations by the stars of The Apprentice, to woo the unwilling job seeker.

The good news for graduates is that the job market is booming. Almost all sectors report increased demand and areas that disappeared for a number of years are now back in force. Two years ago, you might have been forgiven for believing that IT companies didn't recruit graduates but now IT firms are everywhere, so much so that my careers service has had to devise an event in October just for them.

The only sectors that seem to be a bit down are retailing and the public sector but even these are well represented at the fairs. Waitrose, for example, are looking for 40 graduates for their "people-orientated environments", who could become department managers within 12-24 months. They have taken part in the London Graduate Fair for over 10 years and it is an integral part of their recruitment campaign. Anglie Johns, graduate recruitment manager, says "Last year I offered positions to two graduates that I met at the fair. It is a great opportunity to meet graduates that are feeling positive, enthusiastic and upbeat. I'm hoping for an equally successful two days this year."

Market research, marketing research and brand research companies are particularly well represented at the summer shows, with newcomers like Millward Brown and Conquest Research joining the more regular recruiters like AC Neilsen-BASES. Over the last few years, the leisure industry has discovered graduates. Trailfinders will be seeking new recruits alongside Gala and Paddy Power, the computer games company, Jagex and the art auctioneers, Park West Gallery. Media firms attract applications without actually promoting themselves much and so it is unusual to find them at the big fairs but the BBC always supports our Summer Fair and, a first this year, the advertising agency Abbott Mead Vickers - BBDO will also be hiring there.

For many, the thought of a permanent job is somewhat daunting so alternative zones offer anything from teaching English as a foreign language to helping with overseas development projects .

There is no better place to start or finish the job search than at one of the 13 university-run recruitment fairs taking place. They provide a one-stop kick-start to the careers search with cyber cafés providing access to career decision-making software, bookstalls offering useful publications, careers consultants checking CVs and application forms. Independent unbiased professionals delivering a degree's worth of seminars on job hunting while employers run occupationally-focused sessions. There are interactive master classes on interviews and assessment centres and premium careers advice from the likes of C2, for which a small charge is levied. Graduates find job-hunting stressful so light relief will be provided by competitions and, of course, the football.

Your jobs should be satisfying and the summer fairs are all about helping you find one that is. Ask your university about the fair nearest to you. They're not scary, they're free and they're full of very relieved employers wanting to recruit you.

The London Graduate Recruitment Fair is held by The Careers Group, University of London on 21 and 22 June at the Business Design Centre, Islington. Visit for more information

Anne-Marie Martin is the director of The Careers Group, University of London