College graduate in gown holding a 'hire me' sign on the side of a road, searching for a graduate job.
Image: © Scott Griessel/

Finding it hard to get a graduate job? This could be why

17 Jan 2020

With ‘fierce competition’ for top roles, it can be a challenge to secure a graduate job in today’s market.

Going into third-level education after finishing school has become the standard for many of us in recent years. While this can be a fantastic opportunity, it can also lead to some challenges when it’s time to start a job hunt.

Looking at the current situation in the UK, career advice service Graduate Coach said that it’s becoming more difficult for graduates to find employment. “Up until 1990, the number of graduates equalled the number of graduate job vacancies,” it said. “However, now, at any given time, there are 2.3m graduates searching for a job and the competition is fierce.”

With work trends evolving and new fields emerging all the time, it might be hard to believe that there’s a shortage of jobs. But, according to Graduate Coach, the “overabundance of academically qualified applicants” is making the competition between graduates strong. And, as a result, more and more companies are seeking out “workplace-ready” candidates who can hit the ground running – drawing on their applicable skills and experience – instead of those fresh out of college.

Contributing factors

Graduate Coach founder Chris Davies highlighted some other contributing factors. He said that there are currently more than 2m graduates seeking employment in the UK, with that figure including graduates from as far back as 2016 who are still job hunting, as well as 300,000 international graduates.

Among those graduates, Davies continued, the vast majority completed non-vocational degrees and may find it challenging to figure what career type would suit them best.

Finally, the delivery of many college courses hasn’t been reviewed and appropriately updated in a long time. That’s an issue, Davies said, because the average syllabus doesn’t align with the “radical changes in the graduate job market”, which includes almost two-thirds of employers prioritising digital skills, for example.

“Graduates face a rigorous, multi-stage application process as employers identify the strongest candidates. The Times Top 100 graduate employers are highly oversubscribed with up to 650 applicants per job,” Davies said.

“I have coached several excellent graduates who successfully navigate through the initial stages of the application process, only to be told they will not be invited to the final assessment centre due to the competition.”

Check out Graduate Coach’s infographic below to find out more or click here to view it as a larger image.

Infographic from Graduate Coach about the challenges graduates face in securing a job.

Why is it so difficult to get a graduate job? Image: GraduateCoach

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Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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