5 Trends Every Graduate Recruitment Leader Should Know

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The UK graduate market is stronger than ever, with universities across Britain churning out over 600,000 graduates on average, per year.

2016 was the first year in which more of the UK’s population had been to university than had not. Whilst in 2018, the unemployment rate for graduates six months after leaving university fell to 5.1%, the lowest rate since 1979, according to Prospects.

All of these factors have made Early Careers recruitment a challenging prospect for employers. To help understand this thriving market in more detail, below we highlight some of the key trends from the past year:

  1. Salaries are no longer the key influence on career choices

    According to The Graduate Market report by High Fliers, only 34% of students feel that salary prospects influence their career choices, with the majority of decisions instead being dictated by personal interests and their degree subject.

    To cater to graduates’ personal interests, organisations have become far more transparent when establishing their purpose, vision and culture for an external audience. This has the potential to accommodate the 72% of graduates who feel personal interests influence their career choices.

    High Fliers also report that the median starting salary in the UK stands at £30,000. However, it should be noted that other organisations have estimated it to be between £19-22k, feeling that some higher averages are generated by studying the larger, more prestigious employers.

    Despite the apparent disregard for higher salaries, graduate salaries are continuing to increase, as skills shortages prevail. Graduates working in the media sector can expect an 8% increase to their median salary in 2018, while banking and law will also see a 4.4% and 2.5% increase respectively in the same period.

  2. Graduates continue to be lured by start-up culture

    Significantly fewer graduates were recruited in 2017 than predicted, as uncertain times led to a reduction in forecasted hires. However, the UK’s leading graduate employers looked to make up for this shortfall by setting higher targets for 2018.

    Despite the abundance of graduate opportunities on offer at large corporate employers, smaller start-up operations are beginning to challenge these firms when seeking the right talent.

    Impressive benefit packages and a fresh approach to office culture are luring graduates away from a traditional career path, and consequently increasing competition for talent. Candidates are also attracted by the responsibility and independence they might not enjoy to the same extent within a larger corporation.

  3. Regional Hiring Increases

    Although the majority of graduate hiring takes place within London (over 40% according to the Institute of Student Employers (ISE)), UK regions are seeing greater levels of graduate intake. There appears to be a growing desire for younger applicants to work outside of the capital, which has been attributed to rising living costs within London, and the greater levels of opportunity on offer elsewhere.

    One of the UK’s largest graduate employers, PwC, announced that around 60% of its 1,200 graduate hires in 2018, were joining offices outside of London. This decentralisation has the ability to help boost the UK’s regions, which often struggle to retain graduate talent within their city of education. According to Prospects, in 2016 only 58% of that year’s graduates went on to work in the area in which they completed their degree.

  4. Attraction strategies continue to maintain traditional approaches

    According to the ISE, organisations spent around £300,000 on their graduate recruitment, with approximately two-thirds of this investment being spent on marketing activities, while the rest was spent on recruitment and selection costs.

    Overall, the average cost per graduate hire was over £2,000.

    Employers are using a range of different approaches to market their opportunities towards students, with over 63% of High Flier’s graduate employer respondents claiming to have used more social media promotions than the previous year. This increased level of influence has translated into a greater number of graduate applications, with over half of employers noticing an increase in the number of applications received.

    However, traditional approaches continue to be popular. According to High Fliers, 99% of employers visit universities to maintain a presence on campus, whilst 97% continue to use print media, one percent more than those who use social media.

  5. Banks continue to maintain pulling power

    Following the financial crisis of 2008, graduates in the UK have become less inclined to follow a career in banking and financial services. Despite the apparent fall in the attractiveness of a career in this sector, graduate applications have risen dramatically in 2018, proving that there is still an appetite to work for large banking corporations. The  Financial Times has reported the following statistics:
  • Deutsche Bank attracted over 110,000 student applications for its UK graduate scheme in 2018.

  • Citi drew over 60,000 applications, up 12% year-on-year, even though candidates were competing for 520 jobs, down from 575 the previous year.

  • Morgan Stanley also attracted 100,000 applications for just 1,000 summer analyst placements.

    The high volumes of applications can be attributed to banks promoting more of a work-life balance, with mandatory weekends off and flexible working arrangements to match those of the technology industry.

Monitoring and staying close to the key trends within the Early Careers market is vital to staying competitive within this space.

To find out more about our graduate recruitment solutions please contact:
Debs Keogh, Associate Director - Strategic Client Development