Are There Any Jobs – Autumn 09?

I thought it was time to get my graph paper out again, and review how the job market has been holding up so far this academic year. I’ve just realised that my first post on the vacancies coming into the careers service was exactly one year ago today, so it’s a good time to compare year on year.

We have a record of the vacancy ads sent to the Careers Service going back about 10 years, and 2007-8 was our best year ever – just before the financial meltdown. Last year was obviously lower, but surprisingly, not by much, in spite of media gloom about graduate employment.

So, we wondered if this might be the year that things really got desperate (as graduate unemployment has lagged general unemployment in previous recessions). Here’s what we’ve found:


  • You can click on the image to get a larger version which is easier to read.
  • This only includes full-time graduate and postgraduate job ads, and only those ads which have been sent to the Careers Service for us to advertise to our students and graduates/postgraduates.
  • Week 39 corresponds to Induction / Freshers week in September, week 49 is last week.
  • I’ve shown the cumulative number of ads, as that smooths out the natural variation each week, and it’s easier to see the year on year comparison.
  • I’ve included year 2002-3 (the blue column on the right hand side of each set of bars) as that was the last real downturn we had in the jobs market before this one – you can see that the number of ads we received back then was significantly lower than this year or last year. We haven’t done anything to change the way we solicit adverts, though it may be that more advertisers have got wise to the fact that they can advertise with us for free, particularly sending us their jobs through our on-line form.
  • This doesn’t necessarily reflect the number of jobs being advertised, as one advert can be for 600 jobs (for example, announcing a big national graduate recruitment scheme) or 1 job. However, most ads with multiple jobs are posted in the early autumn, so once this bulge has passed, most ads are for one or two jobs only.

So you can see, although we had a slower start to the academic year, as recruiters were cautious (and some dropped out altogether), by mid November, we’d started to overtake last year’s total (at the same point) and we’ve since been on a par with two years ago, our bumper year. Yes, there’s always time for it to go horribly wrong – but if I was a job hunting postgrad at Manchester University, I’d go into the New Year with cautious optimism that getting a job this year or next wasn’t a lost cause.