Martin Birchall: Look on the bright side... this year's graduates are at least applying for vacancies

Share
Related Topics

Today's lurid headlines from the Association of Graduate Recruiters paint the bleak picture that those leaving university this summer have little or no chance of landing an entry-level job.

But are things really that bad for the Class of 2011? It's certainly true that many of the best-known employers have seen a sharp rise in applications for their graduate schemes this year, but much of this actually stems from an increasingly optimistic mood on campus.

During the worst of the recession, many final-year students took the view that it wasn't worth applying for graduate jobs and instead opted for postgraduate study or went travelling instead, in the hope that things would improve later.

This year's graduates have taken a very different approach. An unprecedented number started researching their career options in their first or second year at university and tens of thousands organised work placements during their studies to give themselves the vital CV points that employers were looking for.

By being organised, motivated and focused, an unprecedented proportion of this year's finalists have been able to make early applications to employers and have approached more organisations.

Far from being cowed by a competitive job market, the Class of 2011 has really engaged with the job hunting process and by February had made a record number of applications to employers – an average of seven or eight applications per finalist. It is this surge in interest which has fuelled the increase in the number of applicants per vacancy, rather than a sudden shortage of graduate jobs.

Yes, the demand for some of the most popular roles, in areas such as investment banking, marketing and the media, is unmanageably high. But away from these recruitment hotspots, the odds of making a successful job application are considerably better.

The "Big Four" accounting and professional services firms, for example, are among the biggest recruiters of graduates and have almost completed hiring a total of 4,500 university leavers to start work this autumn. On average, these firms received between 10 and 15 applications for each of their 2011 traineeships and up to a third of applicants made it through to first-round interviews – rather more favourable odds of success than the average 80:1 candidates-to-vacancies ratio would suggest.

The reality is that the graduate job market as a whole is making a good recovery. Vacancies for graduates have now increased for two years running and although recruitment may not be quite back to pre-recession levels, all the signs are that this growth will continue.

Now is the time to provide university-leavers with as much encouragement and support as possible in their search for employment, rather than putting them off applying for work altogether.

The author is managing director of High Fliers Research

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Senior C++ Developer

£400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: We are winning the fight against extreme poverty and hunger. It's time to up the ante

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
David Cameron addresses No campagn supporters in Aberdeen  

Scottish independence: Cameron faces a choice between destroying his country or his party

Matthew Norman
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week