Not quite, let’s not panic yet!
Today’s headline figure of a 25,000 increase in unemployment between April and June combined with the ONS (Office of National Statistics, November 2013) reporting that there has been a rise in the three months to May has clearly given food for thought in many quarters. What, however, are the possible implications for graduates; by no means a simple question.
We all know that there has been a steady increase in the number of graduates in the UK, reported – as rising from 17% in 1992 to 38% in 2012/13 – ONS data. It is also well established that since the 2008/9 recession non-graduates have experienced the sharpest rise in unemployment rates compared with recent graduates and graduates who were out of full-time education for more than five years. This all sounds like good news for recent graduates, and in many respects it is. We must however not lose sight of the figures showing that the number of graduates in non-graduate type employment has increase from 37% to 47% over the same period.
The pressure is still on for graduates who are determined to win one of the few coveted graduate roles with a top-tier employer. We’ve found the longer recent graduates wait to engage with the recruitment process the more difficult they find it. Remember, the recruitment process has a cycle of its’ own with many employers starting the process in September each year. But it’s not just the recruitment cycle itself; engaging early maintains the momentum graduates tend to have after university and prevents a helpful competitiveness with peers turning into an immobilising nervousness as others enjoy early success. Travelling or working part-time to earn can be exciting, but tend to become another hurdle when the decision is finally made to apply for a graduate job. Also, those graduates who, for whatever reason, were unsuccessful the previous year will be back, slightly older but a lot wiser.
In short, for graduates, the pressure to sell yourself and demonstrate the competencies demanded by employers will remain high and continue on this upward curve for the foreseeable future. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, involves completing your applications with more care and craft, performing at a higher level during online tests and having a meaningful impact at interviews. Perhaps Winston Churchill summed up the situation well, “Sometimes doing your best is not good enough. Sometimes you must do what is required.”