Has demand for graduate jobs fallen? Where are all the graduates?

At Axcis, we developed a graduate training programme to offer new graduates the opportunity to enter a thriving profession, with great pay and benefits. We have several opportunities available in our London office this summer. Yet we’ve had few applicants so far, and none who have followed basic application instructions (send your CV with 400 words on why you want the job – we didn’t make it too challenging!)… So where are all these fantastic, ambitious graduates we hear about who are struggling to find jobs, and why are they not applying to Axcis? 



Where are all the graduates who are struggling to find jobs? Credit, Flickr



Let’s be honest – the recruitment industry doesn’t have the best reputation. Like estate agents and window sales people, professionals often sneer when they hear the words recruitment consultant. But why? It’s a thriving industry with opportunities for a range of people with a variety of skills and qualifications. In the UK, the recruitment industry is worth an estimated £25 billion and is growing year on year. Graduate job boards are filled with tempting one-liners saying things such as “Are you a driven, versatile graduate? Earn up to £50K OTE in your first year”. But this doesn’t tell us much about the actual job, what is involved or what to expect. Or more importantly – what sort of person is most likely to succeed and reap the benefits on offer.


Money-motivated graduates often turn their heads to the financial sector. Being an analyst or working towards being a fund manager in the city is an attractive proposition to those who want to turn their learning to earning. Many of my university friends went straight for graduate schemes in the city, and despite recent bad press for the sector, it’s still seen as a respected profession among peers. Recruitment, on the other hand is merged with sales by many and considered a lesser option for the professional.


Ambitious, financially motivated graduates often head for the city

Ambitious, financially motivated graduates often head for the city, Credit Flickr


Perhaps the reason people struggle with the labels of sales or recruitment is because those attractive commission packages and benefits might seem unobtainable by many. And they are right – there is a reason there is high staff turnover in recruitment, and that is beacause it’s no where near as easy as it might seem at first glance. I’ve worked with lots of people who either have the skills but are not prepared to put in the work, or who are prepared to put in the work but just don’t have the skills to succeed. These individuals don’t last long (I personally don’t believe it is fair to let someone struggle on for years before letting them go – a good recruiter will be able to tell within the first few months if someone has what it takes, and it’s kinder to explain this to your employee and let them go than it is to let them keep struggling on when you can see it won’t work out). It takes a huge range of skills and attributes to be successful. And it doesn’t help that we live in a culture where people want to get paid well for doing very little in many instances.


I’ve interviewed so many people who want to do recruitment because a) they need a job, b) they want to earn more money than a standard entry-level position and c) it seems like fun matching candidates to jobs and sending CVs to schools. I think many people imagine that’s all we do – and the rest of our time is spent chatting at the water cooler, going for long lunches and leaving the office as soon as the day ends at 5pm. Then cleaning up at the end of the month with a nice fat pay packet. If only it was that easy!


The reality is that you are essentially running your own business within a business. You need to be able to turn yourself into a marketing expert, a strong negotiator, an effective administrator, a persuasive sales person as well as an accounts and pay advisor, compliance specialist and customer service professional when things don’t go quite to plan! You need to have fantastic time management skills and be able to prioritise your workload effectively – and be flexible enough to re-prioritise (sometimes several times a day) in order to keep on top of the needs of your clients. Add to that resilience and outstanding interpersonal skills (since your job is effectively talking to people all day) and you get a bit closer to the reality of what it takes to work in recruitment. It’s hard work, but for the right person there is a huge pay-off available. Want to find out more about what it takes?


Surely, this list of skills and attributes describes many of the graduates out there looking for jobs? Aren’t they all intelligent, energetic, highly skilled and motivated individuals who are just DESPERATE for a career opportunity that can offer great pay, benefits and long-term professional development? That’s what the papers are constantly telling us. We see headlines such as “Graduates Feel There is ‘No Hope’ In Finding A Job After University” and are told that Almost half of those who have graduated in the last five years in the UK are in non-graduate jobs for which they are overqualified and underpaid.”


So, if the job market for graduates is so poor, why have we received only a few applications since we started advertising some fantastic graduate job opportunities here at Axcis? We are a well-respected company, we offer full training and excellent career progression and have a proven track record of training and retaining graduate staff. Perhaps the real issue is that many of the graduates out there are only interested in finding their “dream job” and won’t take the blinkers off to the other fantastic opportunities out there. Or maybe they are simply unemployable?


Or, perhaps the reality is that the graduates we want – the driven, organised, enthusiastic, positive, intelligent graduates – know that the job market is tough, and have adapted their job hunting strategy accordingly. A survey of last years graduates found that:


“A record 43% of this year’s finalists made job applications to graduate employers almost a year before graduation – applying for graduate vacancies in September or October at the beginning of their final year at university. A total of 62% of finalists had made graduate job applications by March of this year.”


So, maybe the mistake is ours? Perhaps there ARE still plenty of talented graduates out there, but they have learned not to wait for the decent job opportunities – they know that job hunting will be hard and have adapted their strategy accordingly to get ahead of the game. They don’t wait until they’ve graduated anymore. So perhaps at Axcis, we need to start advertising NOW for our graduate vacancies in 2016!


However, if you feel you have the skills and attributes to make it in recruitment and are looking for a career with potential, or know someone else who might be – take a look at our graduate job advert, read the application instructions carefully and apply now!  You don’t need to be a fresh graduate to apply – perhaps you graduated in the last few years and your career plans so far have not panned out? Maybe Axcis can give you the change you’re looking for! There must be some excellent graduates out there who would be perfect for the Axcis Family! Come and join us now! 

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