OK, I admit it, I wrote that title to get you to click but in reality the statement isn’t far from the truth. That’s why I was compelled to put this article together, to explore the concept of graduate employability. By the end of this article I want you to go away with an insight into current market and the drive to get the experience that you need!
So, where are we now?
The last few years have been tough! The credit crunch left a lasting mark on the graduate market and only now are we starting to see a return to a buoyant graduate market. According to the recent High Fliers Graduate Market report 2014 saw a 7.9% rise in the number of graduates hired by the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers. To put that into perspective, that’s the largest annual rise for four years.
2014 also saw more than 700 graduate positions left unfilled as employers made last minute increases in positions. This was compounded by a dramatic rise in graduates turning down job offers or backing out of positions at the eleventh hour.
In 2015 the UK’s leading employers are planning to expand their graduate recruitment drive and they estimate that the level will be beyond the pre-recession peak of 2007. The majority of this growth is expected to come from the public sector, accounting and professional service firms, banking and finance, retailers and the armed forces. It’s no surprise that these are the areas that made the largest cuts during the recession.
There’s also good news on the salary front with graduate salaries expected to increase in 2015, reaching a whopping median of £30,000 for the first time. This is in part due to the generous salaries from investment banks, law firms, banking/finance firms and oil and energy companies offering salaries between £32,500 and £45,000.
So why the sensationalist headline? If the graduate market is looking so rosy, why is it so important to get experience before you graduate?
Whilst the situation is undoubtedly improving, recruiters have informed the High Fliers Graduate Market survey that 31% of this year’s entry level positions are expected to be filled by graduates who have already worked for their organisations, either through paid internships, placements or vacation work. If you add to that the number of competitive graduate schemes or positions that wouldn’t traditionally be considered entry level and you start to get the picture that experience is still vitally important.
What are graduate employers looking for?
Graduate employers are looking for proof! Something quantifiable that shows that you’re not just an academic and that you’re ready to hit the ground running. Whilst having a degree shows that you have the ability to learn, employers don’t want to hold your hand through it all. They want to know that you’ve been in a workplace before and have a modicum of relevant work skills. In my opinion getting experience whilst at university doesn’t only help your employability, in some cases it can also help you to see the things that you learn at university in some sort of work place practice.
Whether you volunteer during the summer, gain experience through a summer placement, via a sandwich year or by working part time whilst at university, everything you do will make you that little bit more employable!
Can you really afford to finish university without any work experience? If the answer is no, what are you waiting for?