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Despite the tough economic climate and unremitting news of a shrinking graduate job market and all time high youth unemployment, the expectations of graduates from top universities remain the same and employers are also buoyant - according to a survey carried out among students at University College London by Sanctuary Search. Tom Freeman, Managing Director,  explains
The research found that while 74% of respondents acknowledge that the job market is more competitive since the recession, 89% of those looking to secure a job still expect to go straight into a graduate role after they graduate. Indeed, Some 60% of those surveyed expect to be on at least a 25,000 starting salary, which compares against an average starting salary of 19,677.
However, the survey also found that 66% would leave London for the right role, and 63% would be equally happy to move abroad for their dream graduate job. This highlights that, despite graduates still having high expectations regarding job security and salary, they are very flexible in where they will consider looking for the role that meets their expectations.
This assuredness of immediate employment is set against the backdrop of the statistic that 85% of students recognise that it is an Employers Market, meaning the students are aware that demand for graduate roles far exceeds the supply.
Interestingly, the survey found that, despite all the media coverage and hype surrounding apprenticeships and their potential use, only 3% of those polled would recommend apprenticeships over going to University in order to benefit ones career, underlining a continuing need for a traditional university education, albeit at a top university.
We also surveyed nine top graduate recruiters from a range of different industries, including Royal Bank of Scotland, Pinsent Masons, Bupa and Proctor & Gamble. All recruiters stated that they are looking to take the same number or slightly more graduates next year, indicating that the top end of the graduate market is holding up well. Almost all saw an increase in the volume of applications but the challenges they face remain the same, with many respondents citing snagging the right candidates as their greatest challenge.
Our survey shows that despite the increasingly challenging economic conditions, the expectations of students from top universities are similar to pre-recession expectations. So what does this mean for graduate recruiters? Despite the current employers market, firms must be aware that the top end of the graduate market is still bullish about its employment expectations, and that employers therefore need to maintain a strong, competitive graduate attraction strategy, as well as offer an attractive package. Indeed, some 71% of students cited recommendation from a friend as the most influential source of recruitment information when looking for a job, compared to 43% citing the careers service and only 31% the company websites. This highlights a need for firms to ensure they have a presence at grass roots on those campuses where they would like to recruit graduates from.
However, given recruiters are seeing an ever increasing number of applications for their roles and are able to recruit a better quality of graduate, it is vitally important for students to differentiate themselves from their peers by highlighting their leadership and communication skills, which more than half of the polled recruiters (57%) cited as central ingredients in their desired graduates.


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