The good and bad news about graduate recruitment

directoriesThe Times reported recently that employers are struggling to find ‘work-ready’ graduates. They said companies are struggling to fill graduate positions because they cannot find enough quality candidates as the economy picks up.

According to the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) nine out of ten graduate employers still have vacancies for this autumn. A poll by the AGR found that half of employers had increased their graduate intake targets but 87 per cent still had vacancies for this year. Two thirds said the applications they had received so far had been of insufficient quality.

The highest percentage of vacancies was in areas of general management, IT and electrical and electronic engineering but there were roles available in almost every sector. The poll found employers complaining of graduates adopting a “spray and pray” approach, taking little effort to research a role or target their application. Many said that graduates had cut and pasted earlier applications, and failed to change the name of the company to which they were applying.

Stephen Isherwood, chief executive of the AGR, said “In 2006, about half our members couldn’t fill all their vacancies. We’re getting back to that pretty quickly. Employers would rather hire nobody than the wrong person.” Mr Isherwood revealed that many candidates fell down at the application stage. “First impressions really do count,” he said. “I’d urge all graduates to really research sectors and roles that they’re applying for, tailoring each approach to show why they want that particular job and what they can offer.”

Rob Wall, head of employment policy at the Confederation of British Industry, identified the economic upturn as having an impact on the graduate market; he said “Demand for graduates is growing with more employers looking for people with higher skills, leadership and management ability. Firms want to recruit young people with the attitudes and attributes that are essential for success, such as resilience, enthusiasm and creativity.”

The Good News

There are lots of graduate vacancies to be filled.

The Bad News

Many applications are not of sufficient standard – but, of course, following the above advice can easily turn that round.

What can you do?

A good place to start for finalists would be attending the upcoming ‘Boot Camp’ and the ‘Graduate Recruitment Fair’ both organised by the Careers service. For details see

Can’t make it? Ok there are a few things to get started:

Advice for researching employers:

Advice on CVs

Advice on cover letters

Advice on application forms

Talk to us about your applications and how you can stand out.


Graham Keating
Careers Consultant

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