Madness! Nine in ten employers say they can't fill their graduate vacanciesCANDIDATES AREN’T GOOD ENOUGH, COMPANY BOSSES INSIST

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To many job-seeking graduates, it seems unbelievable – but a new survey suggests that many employers are struggling to fill their graduate vacancies for this year. With nearly nine in ten graduate employers admitting they have positions that they can’t find suitable candidates for, there could be hundreds of good quality, well-paid graduate roles currently lying vacant.

The poll – from the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR), which sampled 68 of its 750 member organisations – found that 87% of graduate employers said they can’t find suitable applicants. If the remaining members report similar problems, there could be hundreds – maybe even thousands – of graduate vacancies. Employers claim it’s because the candidates simply aren’t good enough – but one recruiter told Graduate Fog that bosses should share the blame.

The poll found that the highest percentages of vacancies were found to be in the areas of IT (26%), Electrical/Electronic Engineering (23%) and General Management (18%). Employers also reported vacancies nationwide, and urged graduates to think about opportunities outside of London and the South East, saying there are a great many positions still available across the UK.

When asked to cite why the positions remained unfilled, 67% of employers also said that the applications they have received so far have been of insufficient quality. Stephen Isherwood, Chief Executive of the AGR, appeared to back this claim 100%, pointing the finger at careless graduates who submit sloppy applications:

“Much is being made at the moment about the ‘value’ of a university degree in the job market, but we know anecdotally from our members that most candidates fall down at the application stage — so often graduates are not taking enough time over their applications and thus not representing themselves in the best possible light.

“First impressions really do count, and in most cases the first impression an employer receives is a CV or job application. 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 relevant skills they can offer an employer.

“There are graduate vacancies out there and making fewer, targeted applications rather than taking a scatter gun approach to finding a job will pay dividends in the long run.”

But Cary Curtis, founder of graduate recruitment agency Give A Grad A Go, suggested some employers should share the responsibility for the scale of the graduate vacancies problem as poor recruiting strategies and processes – and even low salaries – could be partly to blame. He told Graduate Fog:

“Personally I am surprised that so many vacancies are not being filled. There are still more graduates around than there are jobs available – and a large proportion of those graduates are extremely high quality candidates.

“Quite a few applicants could definitely be more focused in their search, and sending out blanket applications is never a good idea.

“However, we speak to a lot of companies who haven’t given enough thought to what they’re going to offer a graduate. There’s a tendency to see if they can pick up a candidate as cheaply as possible, just because there are so many candidates out there, but this obviously restricts the supply chain. They offer a low salary to see what they can get away with, rather than offering a salary to entice the very best candidates.

“Every company has the right to choose who they’re going to hire and how they would like to bring new recruits on board, but we find that the companies who hire exactly who they’re looking for have put a lot of thought into how they’re going to secure those people and how they’re going to help them to develop. They also, usually, have the more structured and friendly hiring processes.”

Graduate Fog has been aware for some time that there are problems with matching up graduate employers and eager jobseekers, particularly in some industries and locations – but the scale of the problem suggested by this poll is startling. What’s going on? Are employers being too picky? Are they using poor recruitment strategies and processes? Are the salaries too low to entice the best candidates? Or do graduates need to take more care over their applications? Whatever the truth, more discussion and investigation into this issue is surely vital. When so many graduates are desperate to get their careers started, it is madness to have any unfilled roles at all. It’s in everybody’s interests to find out what’s going wrong here – and to fix it, fast.


Are bosses’ recruitment strategies to blame? Or are graduates really sending applications that are of poor quality? How do you explain such a large number of unfilled positions, when thousands of graduates claim they’re desperate for work?

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