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

Opilio Recruitment: Field Marketing Manage

£25k - 40k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineers

£28000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineer...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineers

£28000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineer...

Opilio Recruitment: Product Development Manager

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We are currently recruit...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Polish minister Rafal Trazaskowski (second from right)  

Poland is open to dialogue but EU benefits restrictions are illegal and unfair

Rafal Trzaskowski
The report will embarrass the Home Secretary, Theresa May  

Surprise, surprise: tens of thousands of illegal immigrants have 'dropped off' the Home Office’s radar

Nigel Farage
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas