The Job Market – Don’t Panic!


Are there still graduate jobs available? Is graduate recruitment increasing or decreasing? What are the job prospects for 2010 graduates?

The job market may seem confusing, with recent reports ranging from the pessimistic:

MORE than a third of recent graduates have claimed the dole in the past year (Daily Express, 6th April 2010)


Graduate job scramble continues (Daily Telegraph, 15 March 2010)

to the more positive:

Graduate jobs 'relatively unscathed' by recession (Personnel Today, 9th February 2010)

Increase expected in graduate jobs (Financial Times, 13th January 2010)

There is both good news and bad news for 2010 graduates: the good news is that, even before the UK officially moved out of recession, the graduate job market was already showing signs of recovery. A survey by Incomes Data Services (IDS), suggests this year will see a 3.7% increase in the total graduate jobs on offer after a 10.9% fall last year.

The bad news is that this obviously means that graduate vacancies are still 7% down on 2008 – and that many of the 2009 graduates who are still seeking their first “graduate” role, or who took time out to travel or for further study, will be increasing the numbers of graduate job-seekers for 2010 vacancies.

The High Fliers Research survey conducted during December 2009 showed that:
• Almost half of leading employers expected to recruit more graduates in 2010
• Employers in ten of fourteen key industries and employment areas expected their graduate recruitment to increase in 2010.
• Three-quarters of employers said they had received more completed graduate job applications during the early part of the recruitment season than they had last year.
• More than two-fifths of applicants were recent graduates who had failed to find work after leaving university in 2009 or before.

The sectors preparing to recruit increased numbers ofgraduates in 2010 are financial services (up 15%); construction (up 32%); energy (up 15%) and retail (up 21%).

The public sector, however, expects a downturn of 6.6% as all parties look to cut jobs in this sector after the general election. Other sectors anticipating lower levels of recruitment are charities, transport and logistics and law firms.

This survey covers only a small proportion of graduate recruiters: big companies such as the Times Top 100 recruiters which, in fact, only recruit about 20% of all graduates.

Over a third of Kent graduates stay in the county for their first job after graduation and, as there are few large blue-chip companies in this area, many of them will find their first jobs in small and medium-sized companies.

Some do’s and don’ts to improve your chances of success


If you don’t find a suitable job as soon as you graduate, there are many ways to help build up your CV to make you a stronger candidate. Here are a few ideas:

Consider the various graduate internship opportunities available. These provide short-term (usually between two and six months), graduate-level work placements that help you to build up your skills and experience and may even lead on to a permanent job. Although some employers (especially in the media, arts and charity sectors) do have unpaid internships, many are paid at least at minimum wage level. You should investigate the following:


Get voluntary experience. This may not be easy if you need to earn money to pay of your student debt but volunteering is a good way to get experience relevant to social work, education, medicine, police/probation work, counselling, healthcare etc. Many organisations will provide accommodation and living expenses/pocket money for volunteers. See for links to help you find out more.

“My volunteering experience in youth work was not related to my Business Administration degree at all, but I gained new skills and learnt how to deal with all kinds of situations. I was able to use this in my job applications and interviews and now have a good job which is relevant to my studies”

Teach English abroad. You don’t need a TEFL qualification (although it could be useful) and there are opportunities almost anywhere. You can get into TEFL with any degree subject and you don’t need to speak another language. See our web pages on TEFL and Teaching Abroad for more information.
"When looking for jobs I found it very easy to handle the questions on employers' application forms as I had gained so many skills from my gap year teaching English in China: teamworking, initiative, problem-solving and leadership to name just a few"

Teach in the UK. Maths, science, IT, languages and RE are shortage areas, offering a tax-free bursary of £9000 during your PGCE year. If you haven’t actually studied a relevant subject at University, there are “subject enhancement courses” in some of these areas to help bring your knowledge up to the required standard – bursaries are available for these courses. See for more details.

Further study. Many students will consider a postgraduate degree as a way to improve their qualifications, but this is not a cheap option and you need to think carefully about how it would fit into your career plans. Our pages on postgraduate study look at some of these issues, as well as linking to further information on postgraduate study

Further study also includes vocational and practical skills training: for some career areas, this may be more relevant than a Masters degree! Short courses in areas such as computing, languages, business and bookkeeping can be an immense help in making you more employable. If you are trying to get into a competitive area such as marketing or PR, professional bodies offer introductory courses that will develop your knowledge and demonstrate your motivation to employers: see the relevant “I Want to Work In …” pages for further information

Further resources:


Last fully updated 2010