More graduate jobs available this summer

Mike Barnard on what you'll need to bag one
Application advice

The news there will be more graduate vacancies this summer than last year should banish some student January blues. High Fliers Research quizzed The Times Top 100 Graduate employers and found they will be offering 9.4 per cent more graduate jobs compared with last year, which itself saw a rise of 12.6 per cent on 2009. Similarly, the Association of Graduate Recruiters has surveyed 222 top graduate employers and has found that they will collectively will offer 8.9 per cent more graduate vacancies in 2011.

Both reports also state that starting salaries are likely to remain unchanged from 2010 - again encouraging news for students who will start repaying their loans this summer. If the predictions are right, as we all hope, this summer's graduates will have access to the best job market on offer since the start of theeconomic downturn, with many industries now offering as many graduate vacancies as they were pre-recession.

But not so fast! There is still a need for caution and careful planning when thinking about your career choices.

Many employers will be taking on graduates who have already worked for their organisations - a third of those surveyed by High Fliers Research expect to employ those who have completed an industrial placement, or vacation work at their firm. This is further evidence that previous, relevant work experience is as important as ever. According to High Fliers Research, nearly two thirds of recruiters have warned graduates with no previous work experience that they have little or no chance of receiving an offer to join their graduate programmes. If you haven't got experience already, start considering ways of obtaining it before the summer, or think about your university life and how it matches the skills that employers need. For example, a role at a student society might have given you the opportunity to develop planning or managerial skills which employers will see as valuable.

When you're thinking about your career, it's also worth giving serious thought to what industry you want to work in as the two surveys revealed some are upping their graduate intake considerably, but others are cutting back. The top investment and high street banks, retail businesses and IT firms are offering more vacancies this year according to High Fliers; the AGR predicts rises of 88 per cent in consulting and business services. Industries cutting back include the public sector, law firms and construction so competition in these industries will be strong.

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