Small Firms have pick of Graduate Recruits
Businesses planning to recruit new graduates this summer can take their pick from one of the biggest pools of candidates in years, after research revealed that employers are receiving nearly 50 applications for every job vacancy.
The Association of Graduate Recruiters’ (AGR) bi-annual survey also found that graduate jobs decreased by a quarter in 2009 and are approaching levels not seen since the last recession in 1991.
Competition for jobs is particularly fierce in investment banking, financial services, retail and engineering, all of which received more than 50 applications per vacancy, according to the poll.
Unsurprisingly, an over-supply of qualified graduates has also affected salary levels. The average graduate starting salary has frozen for the first time since 1977, at £25,000, and 48% of employers expect the freeze to continue into next year.
A spokesman for the Forum of Private Businesses said small businesses that were thinking about recruiting graduates were likely to find the results encouraging, particularly if the salary expectations of university leavers were lower than in previous years.
“However, many small firms don’t consider taking on graduates, because they don’t offer sector specific skills.
It depends on the sector, but what we’re increasingly seeing from small-business owners is more interest in those with work-based training experience, like apprenticeships, rather than people who’ve been to university.”
Croner Consulting employment law consultant, Jo Pitts, said:
“A more flexible graduate market could benefit small firms, which are often unable to offer the same salary or development opportunities as large organisations.
“To attract high-quality candidates, small firms need to review their recruitment methods and look at how they market themselves.
They should use different media, like online recruitment channels, Internet blogs and social networking, and consider how to raise their profile.”
Retention, she added, was also a key issue for small firms.
“It’s not all about pay. Job development and training is highly important to graduates, and don’t forget cost-effective perks like holidays or a sabbatical, which can be a real pull for those just out of university.”