What lies ahead for your graduate job hunt? With so much political uncertainty in the air, making predictions for 2019 seems particularly risky. Nevertheless, we’ve peered into the future and summoned some insights from employers and researchers to answer six key questions you’re likely to ask yourself as you set about getting your career off the ground in the new year.
1. How will Brexit affect my job hunt in 2019?
The impact of Brexit may as yet be unclear, but what is certain is that you are likely to come up against competition for graduate roles, especially for places on graduate schemes with big multinational employers. On average, according to a membership survey carried out in 2019 by the Institute of Student Employers (ISE), which represents many large companies, each graduate vacancy attracted 50 applications. The most competitive industry of all was retail and FMCG, attracting 67 applications per vacancy.
- Find out more about the possible impact of Brexit and how to handle the subject in your applications and interviews
In some areas, employers found it difficult to recruit graduates with the skills they were looking for. For example, 41% of employers who were recruiting engineers said these roles were tricky to recruit for. Recruiters also came up against skills shortages when seeking to hire graduates for IT programming and development and technical and analytical roles.
You can give yourself a head start by registering with TARGETjobs and filling out your profile, if you haven’t done so already. This means employers can contact you directly about vacancies you would be a good match for. Do your research into employers and different career areas, and make sure you don’t miss out on applying for any graduate opportunities that appeal to you.
- Find out more about graduate schemes and check out up-and-coming deadlines with a range of employers
- Browse employers on TARGETjobs
- Browse hundreds of job descriptions to see what appeals (you can filter by sectors)
- Browse career sectors from accountancy to teaching – which one is right for you?
- Search for graduate jobs
2. Will I ever get a graduate job?
Not if you don’t keep applying! If you’re in your final year, the prospect of fitting in graduate job applications alongside studying can be daunting. It’s best to take a strategic approach, focusing on doing fewer applications well rather than trying to fire off as many applications as possible. Remember you need to tailor each application for the employer.
One of the biggest favours you can do yourself is to understand how to translate your experience of part-time work, studying and extracurricular activities into the kind of soft, transferable skills that employers are looking for, such as communication, motivation, time management and so on. This will underpin how you present yourself in your applications and interviews, and will enable you to show that you match the skills required for the job.
A good starting point is our advice on ten skills that will get you a job when you graduate. We’ve also put together a series of articles on different skills and competencies ranging from motivation and resilience to problem solving, to explain how to show employers your strengths.
Perhaps you’ve decided to put off the whole graduate job hunt thing for a bit longer and take some time out? Are you considering working abroad, perhaps as a TEFL teacher? Use our advice on planning a gap year and working abroad to help you. Our TEFL teacher job description explains what TEFL teaching involves and how to qualify.
What if you’ve already graduated? Our advice on how to structure your job hunt if you’ve already finished university will help you keep going until you succeed in getting the job you want.
3. What are employers looking for?
Recruiters tell us that motivation is hugely important to them. They want to be sure that you’re genuinely interested in the role and the employer, and you’ll need to have done your employer research to convince them.
According to the ISE survey, most employers set minimum requirements for entry, with 57% of ISE members requiring a 2.1 as a minimum and 22% requiring a 2.2 as a minimum, while 16% set a minimum UCAS tariff or A level grades. However, a significant minority – 22% – choose not to set any minimum requirements.
- Advice on job hunting with a 2.2
Employers also love candidates with work experience, and they are particularly keen on recruiting their own interns into graduate jobs. This has been a trend in recent years and is set to continue. According to the ISE report, in 2019 employers rehired an average of 47% of their interns and 44% of placement students.
4. What can I expect from the graduate selection process in 2019?
Most employers now use online applications as part of the recruitment process. They are aware that the recruitment process can be time-consuming for applicants and many are currently trying to speed it up, so you might find that the application form you are asked to complete is very short, and you might not be asked to attach a CV.
- Use our advice on CVs and application forms
Many graduate employers now use video interviews. Candidates sometimes find these challenging but, on the plus side, you can fit them in at a time that is convenient for you. Assessment centres, which used to last a whole day, are also getting shorter.
Employers typically use online ability tests at an early stage in the recruitment process and there is a trend towards using online games as part of this. You could also encounter a new twist in games-based assessment: the virtual reality test. This is not yet in widespread use, but we expect more employers to adopt it over the next twelve months. It involves wearing a virtual reality headset to immerse yourself in various simulated situations to which you have to respond.
We recommend you take the Graduate Benchmark to find out how well you perform in standard numerical reasoning, verbal reasoning and inductive reasoning tests. It includes practice tests for you to use to warm up beforehand.
- Find out more about psychometric tests
- Find out more about virtual reality exercises and games-based assessments, and the employers that use them
5. What kind of questions should you expect in your interviews?
Whether it’s a video interview, phone interview or face to face, chances are the employer will use competency-based questions. These involve asking for examples of a particular skill or competency. According to the ISE report, 76% of employers said that their approach to recruitment was competency-based.
However, the majority of employers combine more than one approach, so you might well find yourself facing questions that focus on your strengths, values and technical skills as well as competency questions.
- Find out more about different types of interviews, including strengths-based, competency-based and technical interviews
- Tricky interview questions and model answers
6. Where are you likely to work after you graduate and what will you earn?
The average graduate starting salary is around £22,400, according to data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency. The average graduate starting salary in the ISE report was higher, at £29,000, as you might expect given that ISE members include many big graduate recruiters that tend to pay higher salaries.
Your starting salary will vary considerably depending on what you do. Our advice on what you could earn in different careers identifies the sectors with the highest starting pay.
Unsurprisingly, London is the UK’s biggest hotspot for graduate recruitment. You can find out more about the proportion of graduate jobs based outside London from our advice on where in the UK you are most likely to get a graduate job.