“Backlog” from Class of 2009 to pinch a quarter of 2010’s graduate vacancies, warns expert

Sharpen your elbows — new figures say the stage is set for an undignified scramble for graduate jobs this summer.

Students applying for graduate jobs in September 2010 will find that a quarter of vacancies have been filled by 2009’s graduates, according to a survey of employers.

“There is a big backlog to catch up,” warned bad-news-bear Martin Birchall, boss of High Flyers, which carried out the research.

The 310,000 students who finish their degrees this summer will be hit by a triple whammy, he explained. The combined effects of 1) cuts in recruitment in the last two years, 2) a significant increase in applications and 3) the fact that 25% of positions have already been taken by the previous year’s graduates look set to result in an deeply uncomfortable summer for many.

“We are not out of the woods yet,” Martin went on to admit. “It’s going to take another two years before things return to the level of 2006-7.”

“Competition for the remaining vacancies is therefore likely to be extremely tough and there is widespread concern on campus. For those who have yet to begin job hunting, the chances of landing a place on a graduate programme in 2010 are looking increasingly slim.”

While this news isn’t great, Graduate Fog would like to remind readers that graduate schemes are far from being your only option.

And although I report these numbers in blog posts like this — because I think you should know about them — I’d also advise against obsessing over them too much.

Why?

Because freaking out won’t increase your chances of getting a job.

Clarifying your goals, staying motivated and running a super-smart job-search will.

So my advice is to keep calm and carry on.

1) Take charge of your job hunt — remember, finding work is your responsibility and yours alone. No one is going to do it for you. If you feel your confidence seeping away, have a word with yourself. Do you really want to be living at home with your parents for the rest of your life? Thought not — so get cracking!

2) Out-fox your rivals by seeking unadvertised vacancies and creating opportunities for yourself by bagging experience and building your network of contacts. I can’t stress enough how worthwhile this is. Find ‘hidden’ vacancies this way and the competition thins out.

3) Monitor the effectiveness of the job hunt strategies you’re using. If one isn’t working, stop doing it and try something else. Do more of what works. Don’t be afraid to ditch strategies that aren’t working — most likely, your time and energy would be better spent using a different tactic.

4) Remember that your chosen industry is not static — it’s constantly changing. This is particularly necessary for graduates seeking careers in a creative industry — like TV, journalism, music or book publishing — or any other industry that’s seriously struggling right now, whether that’s thanks to the recession, the impact of digital technology or the threat of a change of government (remember, public sector jobs are not ‘safe’ anymore). Spend time researching the reality of working in they industry you’ve set your heart on, before insisting it’s your ‘dream’ and heading off with unrealistic expectations about being able to sustain a 40-year career in these industries. These industries are undergoing seismic changes right now. So become a trendspotter. Looking for where the opportunities are going to be in the future can be a better plan than chasing the opportunities there once were in these industries.

5) Keep an eye on your motivation and productivity. Develop a job-hunting routine that works for you by learning to be self-aware about your habits. Find it hard to get going in the mornings? Try going for a run before you switch on your computer.

6) If you’re tempted to ‘dodge’ the recession by doing an MA, FOR GOD’S SAKE MAKE SURE IT’S A GOOD INVESTMENT. Remember, further study won’t necessarily boost your chances of finding work, or getting a higher paid job — whatever the person selling the course tells you. Don’t be suckered by a fancy prospectus — check it out with employers before you sign up. Do employers really value the qualification you’re about to get even deeper into debt for? If you’re tempted to go travelling for similar reasons, by all means go if you can afford it — just remember that there are no guarantees that the job market will be any more buoyant when you get back.

7) Whatever you do, do something — even if it’s just voluntary work. If you’re job hunting at home, having a reason to leave the house is a good thing — and being able to put something on your CV for this period looks better than having a big gap.

Read more about the latest figures on the graduate jobs race here.

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