The Job Market At The End Of The Year

It’s been a turbulent year with the prospect of a lot more uncertainty to come in 2012, particularly for those hoping to establish themselves in the job market. Here are some thoughts in case you have a crisis of career confidence over the Christmas and New Year break.

Current job market
Unfortunately, this year I can’t do my Christmas vacancy round up chart showing how vacancies sent to the Careers Service have changed over the years. We’ve changed our database, and can’t be sure we’re comparing like with like for previous years (on the upside, we think we’ve got more accurate figures now).

However, here are a few stats:

  • In November 2011, we carried  415 job ads for full-time vacancies – this compares to 316 for November 2010 (the first month we had data from our new database)
  • I don’t have the full December figures yet, but in a spot check this week, we had over 350 active, full-time job ads on CareersLink. (Last year’s figures were 201, though that was on our old database.)
  • Over 80 full-time job ads were added in the last week. Who says no-one advertises at Christmas? What’s more, a fair number of these new job ads had early January closing dates, so don’t delay “getting round to” applying for these jobs – mid January may be too late.

To be honest, that’s a better picture than I expected. I’m normally pretty bullish about the real state of the graduate job market, bolstered by knowing how many jobs we get sent, which has often been at odds with the media picture of “no graduate jobs this year”. I admit I feel much more nervous than in previous years about the future job market, but maybe it’s just the “hell-in-a-handcart” hype which has finally worn me down – here’s hoping!

Take a chance on different jobs?
One more worrying phenomenon we’ve spotted is the number of good jobs which we’ve advertised which have attracted few views, never mind applications. In November, there were almost 35,000 views of vacancies on CareersLink – but they’re not evenly spread. Cast your net a bit wider in the kind of posts you’re prepared to look at and you may find some plum jobs there for the taking.


Postgrad Study Fair Goes International

Our big Postgraduate Study Fair is running this week, on Wednesday 23rd November, for anyone considering doing (another) postgraduate degree.

This is your chance to talk to representatives from a wide range of institutions about the courses they offer, what it’s like studying at their universities and any funding opportunities. Naturally, they won’t have individual potential supervisors there for all the PhDs they offer, but they can give you a flavour of the support you’ll get if you opt for their institution. There is also a range of exhibitors offering general services for finding postgrad study or funding opportunities, including our sponsors, and

International Exhibitors
This year, I was really interested to spot that there is an even stronger international presence, so if you fancy studying in, say, Finland, or Switzerland, you only have to go as far as Manchester Central Exhibition Centre to talk to someone about it.

Countries represented this year, either by an individual institution, or an organisation dedicated to promoting study in a particular part of the world are:

  • Finland
  • Scotland
  • Wales
  • Australia
  • England
  • Italy
  • Austria
  • Germany
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • Sweden
  • USA

If you want to know any more about studying in the UK or overseas, have a look at who’s coming and come and see us – and give me a wave during my “Should I do a PhD?” talk or when I’m giving careers advice (open to all comers).

Part-Time Jobs For Postgrads

We’re currently advertising some excellent part-time vacancies, ideal for postgrads at this university – part-time telephone fundraisers for our alumni office. The closing date for applications is 12 noon, Thursday 24th November, and the positions are for 8 hours a week, from the end of January until late March 2012 (and yes, they’re paid positions – no slave labour here).

Whilst fundraising is a critical part of this role, just as important is keeping in touch with our alumni, listening to their stories of their time at the University, and talking about what it’s like as a student today.

What is the job really like?
One of our current postgraduate fundraisers is Wuraola Ladejobi, who is studying for an MBus in Global Business Analysis at Manchester Business School, having completed an undergraduate degree in International Business Management and Spanish. She applied for the student caller role because:

“I wanted a part-time job that was flexible, as doing a Masters is like a full-time job on its own.

Another main but important reason I applied for this post was to increase my confidence by enhancing skills such as communication, persuasion, diversity and telemarketing.”

She was advised that it wasn’t a simple job:

“telemarketing/tele-fundraising is one of the hardest jobs and if I could do this, then I could probably do any job”

Luckily, this hasn’t proven to be a problem:

 “This job has helped me with my listening skills and it has increased my confidence. I have always been able to speak to people from anywhere in the world or any background, but this job has made me even more confident and I understand people a lot more than I did.”

However, that’s not all she has got out of the job:

“I love this job because I get to speak to people from all over the world. I have spoken to Spanish people which is good for practicing my Espanol, I have also spoken to people from Nigeria, Jamaica, the U.S, Ukraine, Canada – you name it, I have spoken to them all.

I also love this job because I love hearing about other people’s experiences whilst they were at Manchester, especially if they did a postgraduate course similar to mine. I have had a lot of people who have given me very useful advice. I have had someone who advised me to take my dissertation very seriously and someone else told me to start applying for graduate schemes now. These are things I know but it was useful to hear it from people who have once been in my position.

I would recommend this job to any student looking for a part-time job because I think it is a great job to have on your CV, especially having your employer as Manchester Business School – I find that exciting!”

Why these jobs are important
These roles are critical for engaging with our alumni, and hopefully, encouraging them to consider giving back to the university, to help fund:

  • scholarships for students who otherwise couldn’t consider going to university
  • research into a wide range of areas
  • refurbishment of student facilities
  • supporting student volunteering (the minibus which we use to transport volunteers and equipment for our local community volunteering was donated by the Alumni Fund)

amongst many other projects.

Central Bank Careers Conference

This is only relevant to a very targeted group of our postgrads, but if you have either recently finished or are currently studying for

  • a PhD in Finance or Economics
  • or a Masters in either of those subjects and have 3 years relevant experience

and you’re interested in working for a central banking organisation, and you can get down to London for the evening of 17th November … this is for you!

LSE are running a Central Bank Careers Conference, and they’ve kindly allowed University of Manchester postgraduates to apply to attend. You have to send a copy of your CV (all attendees have to do this, even LSE postgrads), and if you’re selected, you have to pay a £10 admin fee.

You’re also on your own to find your way down there, and as it runs from 6-9pm, you’ll probably need somewhere to stay in London. (I know, ‘cos I’m going and I couldn’t get to hear the final talk – from the Bank of England – and still get the last train back “oop North”).

However, this is your chance to listen to talks from the exhibitors and network with them directly. The exhibitor list is currently:

  • The Bank of England
  • Bank of Italy
  • Central Bank of Ireland
  • Financial Services Authority
  • International Monetary Fund
  • Moody’s

It’s too late to have your CV included in a profile book which was sent to exhibitors (we e-mailed relevant schools directly, so hopefully some of you have already been included) but you will still need to send a CV to show that you have appropriate experience.

Further details about the event are on the LSE Careers website, with detailed information on how to apply as a University of Manchester postgrad here: CBCC: Details for UoM postgrads (.docx file)

Finding A Job For Postgraduates – New Slidecast

Want to know how to find jobs, including all that stuff about “the hidden job market”? Here’s the slidecast from my recent talks to postgraduates. It includes:

  • How to do your background research
  • How employers recruit – and why just looking for ads means you miss most of the jobs being filled every day
  • How to find sources of ads (some starting points – can’t cover all the hundreds of specialist job sites though)
  • Agencies – how they work and some recent developments
  • Using contacts – some practical hints on how to make the most of your contacts without hassling them
  • Strategies for becoming an “internal candidate”

Good luck with finding jobs!

The Job Market For PhDs – New Slidecast

For those who didn’t catch my face-to-face talk on” Finding a job for PhDs”, here’s the slidecast (slides plus audio) for the section on “The Job Market for PhDs”.

Slides 3-7 cover where PhDs go for 5 broad discipline groups. For this section, unless you’re really keen on labour market info, I’d just skip to the slide which covers the discipline you’re in:

  • Slide 3 – Biomedical sciences (includes clinical psychologists, clinicians doing doctoral research etc, plus some bench scientists)
  • Slide 4 – Biological sciences (most lab scientists in life science)
  • Slide 5 – Physical sciences and engineering
  • Slide 6 – Arts and humanities (excluding social sciences)
  • Slide 7 – Social sciences

I’ve repeated the description of what the graph covers for each discipline, so you don’t need to wade through all the discipline slides.

I’m hoping to get chance to edit the final section of my original talk (How to find jobs for postgraduates) and upload it tomorrow (fingers crossed!)

News From The Fair

I’m now back from the Engineering, Science & Technology Fair in Manchester, which was buzzing as usual.

Here are comments from a few of the employers I talked to:

Victrex – maybe not the name on everyone’s lips, but a worldwide polymer company, headquartered in Thornton Cleveleys, in North West England. They do take chemists, chemical engineers but were particularly searching for a good control engineer. If that’s you, get in touch with them.


Tata Chemicals – you must have heard of Tata, one of the biggest names worldwide in many sectors, but did you know they had a base in Northwich, in Cheshire? Refreshingly, they were looking for any science or engineering discipline for their graduate training programme, which will give you experience in strategic planning, business development, operations and specific business projects.


National Grid – they were also open to any discipline, including non-science and engineering for their commercial graduate schemes. You might also be interested to know that they do pay more (£1K) for a Masters, and were shocked to find out that others generally didn’t. So, an organisation which really values postgraduate study.


Contact Singapore – if you fancy experiencing life outside the UK and are interested in relocating to Singapore, this organisation wants to hear from you. If you have the kind of skills or degree which are in demand in Singapore, work visas don’t have to be a headache – and they are particularly interested in researchers, either for PhD scholarships or research posts based in Singapore.


Balfour Beattie – not just the largest construction company in the UK, but also a provider of consultancy services on major infrastructure projects, since acquiring Parsons Brinckerhoff a couple of years ago. It was really encouraging to see one person on the stand (let’s call him “Gary” – not the one pictured!) who eventually admitted that, in spite of the suit and looking like he had loads of experience, he was a PhD who had only joined the PB part of Balfour Beattie a couple of months ago. That’s another good reason for postgrads to go to graduate fairs – you never know who’s got a postgrad degree lurking in the background.


Bioscience Careers – no, not an employer, but recognition from all the biological science learned societies that very few bioscience companies go to careers fairs. This was your chance to quiz them on the bioscience employment market. Lots of great bioscience careers and labour market info on offer to reassure you that although bioscience companies may not be at the fairs, they are still recruiting. For example, much of the cutting edge research in bioscience is now done in smaller companies, often spin-outs from universities. They’re much too small to want a stand at a general careers fair, but a targeted speculative application with a relevant postgraduate degree might be exactly what they need.

What’s On This Week

If you’ve looked at CareersLink recently, you’ll know that this is one of the biggest recruitment weeks of the year in Manchester.

Coming up this week we’ve got:

Two major recruitment fairs
The Engineering, Science and Technology Fair is on Wednesday 19th, and the Finance, Business and Management fair is on Thursday 20th October.

Between them, there are over 160 stands with employers visiting Manchester, just to give you the chance to talk to them directly. This is where you can get the information which will make your application stand out over all those other students who’ve only read the website. These big employers are often here just once a year – miss this week’s fairs, and you’ll have to wait until autumn next year (when they’ll be recruiting for jobs starting in autumn 2013).

If you’re not sure whether you can spare the time, have a look at my video comments from a couple of weeks ago, on whether postgrads should bother to go to recruitment fairs, and then make up your own mind.

Hundreds of current job ads
We currently have over 440 adverts on CareersLink for full-time graduate level jobs, either starting now or next autumn. Over 50 of these job ads close this week (but more will be added as the week progresses). Get in there while they’re still hot! And don’t just use CareersLink – there are also loads of graduate and postgraduate level job ads on Prospects, TargetJobs, Milkround and all the other big graduate jobs sites.

The chance to meet employers
There are over 20 employer-led events in Manchester this week, including mock interviews and assessment centres run by big name recruiters.

There are also information sessions run by the Careers Service. These are the chance to pick the brains of our media, international student, PR and banking experts – and ask all those questions you’d be embarrassed to ask employers.

So, this week might just be the week to change your life – don’t miss it!

What’s New, What’s On

Here’s some more current careers news:

  • City firms closing dates – I know I tell you to ignore deadlines and get your applications in early, but it can be useful to know when the closing dates are, and, more importantly, when the vacancies opened. So, here is our current summary (pdf) of opening dates (where we know them) and advertised closing dates for a wide range of city firms. If you want to know more about finance and working in the City, have a look at our Finance sector pages for our recommended starting points.
  • Environmental careers, particularly renewable energy – a major conference, RenewableUK 2011 is coming to Manchester this month, and on the final day, 27th October, they’re offering free access to their Careers Fair and Exhibition. It’s at Manchester Central (conference centre behind the Midland Hotel, where we’re holding our fairs next week) and you must register beforehand to get in. Looking at the range of exhibitors, I reckon if you want to get into anything environmentally related, you’d be mad to miss this opportunity to network with around 300 exhibitors.
  • Graduate careers with the Prison Service – the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) has opened its Prison Leader scheme again this year. Opened on 26th September and closes on 28th November. If you want a challenging career, this is one to get your teeth into!
  • Civil Service – the website has changed this week and it’s now at However, to be honest, if you want to know more about graduate and postgraduate entry into the UK Civil Service, I’d go straight to the stand-alone Fast Stream website. Get your skates on if you want to apply, as they’ve been open since 19 September and some (the Analytical Fast Stream) close as early as next Monday.
  • Risk Consulting with PwC, for PhDs – PwC are targeting PhDs in “highly numerate” disciplines (they mention maths, physics, control engineering and computer science as examples) for their risk consulting vacancies, starting either in April or autumn 2012 (spotted on LinkedIn)
  • Employers looking for applicants – If you think the graduate job market is too competitive, so there’s no point in applying – think again. We regularly get employers asking us to push their vacancies because they need more applicants.
    If you’re a Project Engineer looking for a job right now, how about this one?
    Yes, it’s still a tight graduate market overall, but don’t assume that all the jobs are getting snapped up straight away – it’s still worth applying.

Strategy Consulting for PhDs – Boston Consulting Group Presentation

Just in:
Boston Consulting Group (BCG) are coming to Manchester to talk to PhDs and post-doctoral researchers about life as a strategy consultant and how to apply.

It’s only just been confirmed (in the last hour) – but it’s next week (strategy consultants are expected to be flexible and quick to respond!).

  • Date: Wednesday, 12th October
  • Time: 6.30pm – 8.30pm
  • Location: The Midland Hotel, Peter Street, Manchester (Stanley Suite)

You must register beforehand to get the chance to attend (see link below).

NB. You do need to be doing a PhD, or have completed one, to be considered for this event – it won’t cover other entry levels to BCG (not suitable for undergrad/Masters/MBA).

It will go on CareersLink in the very near future, but until that’s live, here’s what BCG have to say about the event:

Have you ever wondered what life outside academia looks like? How you could apply your intellectual curiosity, creativity, and problem-solving skills to make valuable contributions to the business world? How to keep expanding your knowledge, enhancing your skills, and advancing your career in a way and at a pace unmatched by most other companies?

Join us on Wednesday, 12th October to discover the answer to these questions, learn more about The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), and meet several BCG Advanced Degree holders.

This presentation and workshop is specifically aimed at PhD students and post-doctoral candidates who are interested in pursuing a career with BCG.

During this event, we will talk about the firm and discuss opportunities in our global offices. In addition, there will also be a workshop where we will offer some tips and advice on writing a successful CV and discuss what to expect during a typical consulting “case study” interview and how to prepare. This will then be followed by an open Q&A session.

To attend the presentation, please register your interest via the link by the evening of Monday, 10th October.

Please note that space is limited.

If you are unable to attend but are still interested in a career in one of our global offices, or if you have any questions about this event, please contact us via email at

For general information about BCG and the work we do, we would encourage you to visit