Education & Family

Final-year students 'apply for jobs earlier'

graduates Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Finalists studying at 30 leading UK universities took part in the research

A growing number of students are applying for jobs nearly a year before their graduation, a study finds.

This academic year, 43% of finalists made job applications by the end of October, compared with 31% five years ago, the High Fliers research finds.

The poll of more than 18,000 finalists suggests they are making an average of 7.5 applications - an all-time high.

A quarter of those surveyed expected to start a graduate job as soon as they finished studying.

Three-quarters of those surveyed had started researching their career options before the start of their final year at university, compared with 61% in 2010 and 57% in 2008.

Of those who began their job hunt early, a quarter had started looking in the first year of their degree studies and a further fifth had been hunting since before they started their course.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Some final-year students said they would look for work once they had graduated

The students who took part in the survey had collectively made 463,000 job applications this year. This compares with 257,000 made by those who graduated in 2010.

About one in four of those who had put in job applications by the time the survey was carried out, in March, had received definite job offers.

Business plans

A quarter of the students surveyed said they expected to start a full-time graduate job as soon as they finished their studies.

A further 17% said they would look for work once they had graduated, while 3% planned on running their own business.

About one in eight (12%) said they had "no definite plans".

On average, new graduates expect a starting salary of £23,000, the research suggests.

Lure of capital

London was again the leading destination for job hunters, with 50% saying they hoped to work in the capital, but 23% of final-year students hoped their first job would be overseas.

The research is based on a poll of 18,336 students, studying at 30 leading universities, who are due to graduate this summer.

Image caption The lure of London endures for university leavers

Managing director of High Fliers Research, Martin Birchall said: "Our latest research confirms just how dramatically the process of getting a graduate job has changed over the last five years.

"Finding a first graduate job for after university is no longer something that students do in their final few months of study.

"Nearly half of those graduating this summer from the 'class of 2014' had started researching their career options by the end of their first year at university, and record numbers of students made their job applications to employers up to a year before graduation.

"It's great to see that although the job market for university-leavers remains highly competitive, more new graduates than ever have managed to secure a definite job offer before leaving university."

Meaningful decisions

National Union of Students vice-president Dom Anderson said: "Competition for jobs is now incredibly high, which is why many students are applying for jobs earlier.

"There needs to be a greater investment in careers guidance right from school through to leaving, to ensure that students are able to make informed, meaningful decisions about their career choices."

Neil Carberry, director for employment and skills for the CBI, said: "In a highly competitive jobs market, young people thinking earlier about what route to take after leaving education should be encouraged.

"Effective careers guidance is vitally important at all stages so that young people are aware of the broad range of options available to them and the skills, attitudes and behaviours that employers value."

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