career decisions / Job market

The graduate job market – advice for current students

I recently attended a webinar hosted by the Institute of Student Employers who represent the majority of large UK graduate recruiters. A panel of University Careers Service Heads and graduate recruiters debated the current challenges both students, recruiters and university careers services are facing during these unprecedented times. This post outlines some of the specific challenges you as students are facing and how you can overcome these.

Employer events

During the pandemic it’s been especially hard not to be able to host in-person events on campus. Our Careers Fairs, held during the autumn term normally see up to 4,000 Warwick networking with graduate recruiters and having actual conversations with them.

Careers Services and graduate recruiters, keen that students don’t miss out on opportunities, have largely migrated to online fairs and webinars. Many Careers Services have doubled the number of employer events during the autumn term with some offering in excess of 500 events during autumn term alone. At the same time fewer students are engaging with online recruiter events.

The myth that there are far fewer graduate jobs is just that – a myth. Recruiters have not filled all the jobs they have as fewer students have been applying.

Current challenges for students

  • A saturation of events has seen fewer of you engaging with recruiters. Competing demands makes it impossible for you to fit everything in….employer events compete with getting to grips with online studies, in-person social opportunities, club and society activities and part time jobs. And, frankly, Teams and Zoom overload.
  • Many of you are unsure what you want to d o- and as a result some of you may be reluctant to engage and unsure how to select what would be helpful and relevant.
  • There is a mismatch between recruiters’ application cycles (now) and when students are ready to apply for them (later)
  • Jobs are available in healthy numbers across most sectors now.
  • Some of you may be reluctant to apply as you’ve not managed to secure in-person paid internships and feel you can’t apply until you have experience
  • You may not have created a LinkedIn profile if you’ve not undertaken an internship
  • Many of you are feeling under-confident as you have had less exposure to recruiters and opportunities. This is hardly surprising – it’s been a truly challenging time
  • In applications many of you are not capturing activities that offer alternative experiences to paid work experience. These can include student and society engagement, virtual internships, mentoring, projects led by recruiters, talks attended, part time jobs and volunteering. These don’t have to relate to the sectors you’re interested in. All students have struggled to secure paid internships because of the pandemic and recruiters are understanding of this.
  • It’s been particularly hard to develop and practise your networking skills.
  • Many of you will have reflected on life during the lockdown and have asked yourself deeper questions about what you really want from life- not just a career.

How to overcome the challenges

  • It’s never too soon – or too late to begin to explore different career possibilities. A helpful starting point is our Careers Moodle where you can explore the kinds of job that might suit you
  • See the jobs and internships available on MyAdvantage where recruiters are seeking to attract applications from Warwick students
  • Look at the events on offer through MyAdvantage and focus on a small number that will deliver something useful for you. That may be a skills workshop, a careers event on creating a LinkedIn profile or a CV workshop. Spend your time wisely; you will need to focus on your studies but it’s healthy to have a balance, so make time to spend with friends doing things you enjoy- after all that’s what university is for
  • You don’t need a career idea to do book a careers appointment! We are happy to work with you to explore what might work for you. Book an appointment through MyAdvantage
  • Fewer, tailored applications are more likely to succeed than lots of general ones
  • Graduate Futures is a new free resource where you can practice a whole range of different aptitude, personality and assessment centre activities
  • Research recruiters that interest you. Use our databases to do your homework- not just recruiter websites – and network with recruiters virtually where you can
  • Find a mentor. Many Warwick alumni are keen to support current students and can be a big help in providing encouragement and wisdom to current students
  • To develop your networking skills, use events organised on campus to practice or reach out through Warwick’s LinkedIn alumni network to connect with former students in roles or organisations you’re interested in

In conclusion…

Warwick students and graduates are highly regarded by recruiters. A lack of confidence does not equate to a lack of ability or potential. Do create a LinkedIn profile.  That’s where recruiters will go talent-spotting. Do make the most of the careers and employer events and activities designed to support you as you move from student to graduate.

One thing is certain; you won’t get jobs you don’t apply for.

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