European parliament building, Brussels

What's the outlook for graduate job hunters after the EU referendum?

In the wake of the shock EU referendum result, initial reaction from employer organisations suggests competition for graduate jobs is likely to intensify. It’s going to be all the more important for university students to focus on getting the best possible degree result to maximise their chances of the career they want. Whether you’re still studying or are job hunting after graduation, honing your skills through work experience and extracurricular activities will also help to make you a more attractive candidate, however the impact on the economy shapes up.

Stephen Isherwood, chief executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters, said, 'We are disappointed with the vote to leave the EU, which has moved us into uncertain territory. At the moment it's hard to find a single reason why this is going to be good for our industry. It's too early to know how employers will respond and the repercussions on student recruitment and the vacancies available to this and next year's graduates. Over the next few weeks we will be working with employers to understand the impact and what this may mean for the next graduating cohort.'

The Institute of Directors published the results of a snap survey of its members which revealed that while 32% would continue hiring at the same pace, 24% would put a freeze on recruitment. On a positive note, the findings suggest a strong ongoing commitment to conducting business in the UK, with 71% of respondents saying they would keep all of their current UK operations going. However, 17% said they would consider moving some operations out of the UK to elsewhere in the EU.

Businesses’ investment plans also look set to be affected; while 44% said these would remain the same, 17% said they would slightly decrease investment and 19% said they would reduce investment significantly.

Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors, commented, ‘Businesses will be busy working out how they are going to adapt and succeed after the referendum result. But we can’t sugar-coat this; many of our members are feeling anxious. A majority of business leaders think the vote for Brexit is bad for them, and as a result plans for investment and hiring are being put on hold or scaled back.’

Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the business lobbying organisation the CBI, called on the government to ‘act with urgency to minimise the uncertainties that affect investment decisions and slow job creation.’ In a letter to The Times she observed, ‘Many people, including the UK’s thousands of businesses, are asking what this means for them and the people who depend on them. What we need is a plan.’

A survey undertaken by PathMotion, an employer-to-candidate engagement platform, before the referendum suggested that half of the UK’s leading graduate employers would reduce their graduate intake following a vote for Brexit, with the sectors most likely to be hit including banking and finance, retail, media, technology and law.

A Campus Divided - Students on Brexit

Advice and job hunting tips on

Whatever happens in the coming weeks and months, you can help Brexit-proof your career by becoming as skilled and informed a candidate as possible. Here’s some advice to get you started.