The Changing Face of Graduate Jobs

In my last post I mentioned the dramatic increase in ads we’ve received over the last few years. I was discussing this with Jan from our employer liaison team, who started in Careers around the time I was first in Graduate Recruitment – ie a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (see the end for the clues of just how long ago).

We both think one reason for the big increase is the changing pattern of corporate recruitment. Back in the day, (cue rosy-hued nostalgia-fest), Jan organised 10,000 on-campus interviews a year for 300 companies. Such was the demand for mass recruitment, some companies had up to 30 people interviewing at a single university, with interviewers seeing up to 15 people a day (20 minutes per interview).

This doesn’t mean that there were more jobs for graduates – just that recruitment of graduates was often concentrated into specific training posts, generally with major employers. Large corporations would take in their annual quota of trainees, sending them on a tour of placements, before they had to decide which management route they wanted to follow.

Today’s job market for grads and postgrads is much more diffuse. Many more employers recruit people with university qualifications, and generally expect them to be productive, and focused, from day 1.  They are much more likely to recruit one or two people, rather than dozens. This suits the postgrad market much better – less chance of you being forced through a one-size-fits-all graduate sausage machine. With your extra maturity and experience, you’ve probably got a better chance of proving your effectiveness in a job much faster, and moving up the promotional ladder quicker than a straight undergrad.

However, if you’re about to head back to families for a Christmas break, you may have to deal with older relatives who don’t realise that recruitment for postgrads and graduates is nothing like their own experience. At the Careers Service, we feel their influence regularly, as each new crop of graduating students throws up an alarmingly high proportion of undergrads who expect to get “one of those graduate training schemes” where they can put off deciding which sort of job they want until they’ve sampled a few different functions. Somebody’s encouraged them to aim for this sort of job (and it probably wasn’t us, because we know these sorts of schemes are now few and far between) – I reckon parents and middle-aged rellies are the likely culprits.

So, go armed with your ammunition, smile at their reminiscences and point out that the world has changed since shoulder pads, eyeliner (for boys) and synthesisers and the fretless bass were first de rigeur …



… or has it? 

Guess where I was this week, reliving my days as a new grad, when recession hit the early 80’s?

Plus ca change.