“3 out of 4 students are concerned about being unemployed,
but being focused and flexible pays off”
PathMotion’s latest survey, conducted on 400 university students across the UK, reveals that nearly three out of four students are worried they will be unemployed when they graduate.
Nevertheless, many remain positive about their chances of securing a rewarding job, but believe this requires focusing your job search around your career goals whilst remaining flexible about the types of opportunities you consider.
A “focused but flexible” approach can be further reinforced by (i) using available career resources effectively; (ii) acquiring relevant experience; (iii) leveraging your network, even if limited; (iv) delivering a quality and tailored application; and (v) persistence throughout the application process.
Being unemployed upon graduating remains a concern
73% of students are worried (of which 27% are very worried) they will be unemployed after graduating, including those at leading institutions.
“It’s very tough out there at the moment and I have no offers yet, which I was originally expecting to have at this point.” History student, Cambridge University
This concern is driven by having to stand out from the competition when applying for the fewer jobs that are available.
*”There are very few jobs at the moment, plus tough competition for what jobs there are.” Biology student, Exeter University
*Students in humanities, psychology and English are more worried overall than others, while those studying engineering, economics, business and finance seem relatively less concerned.
*”I’m not sure if my degree sets me aside from the crowd enough.” Modern languages student, Newcastle University
Being focused but flexible is the key to a successful job search
*Despite the tough labour market conditions, many students remain positive about the prospect of securing a rewarding job and, ultimately, a career. Their top tips for a successful career search are:
1. Focusing your job search around your career goals – one in four thinks it is vital to start by understanding your career goals and then use this as basis for your job search.
“You need to have some criteria in mind otherwise it’s too confusing.” Business student, Portsmouth University
“Focus on what you like, not what you think you should like.” Business student, University of Manchester
“Think about what you enjoy and are good at, as well as the kind of environment you’d feel comfortable in, with a good company culture.” Business Administration student, University Of Bath
2. Being flexible – over one in three thinks it is essential to be open-minded about the specific types of jobs one considers applying for: broadening the range of suitable career options avoids the trap of just applying for the same jobs as everyone else.
“There are enough jobs, as long as one is flexible enough.” Business student, Manchester Metropolitan University
“Don’t be scared to broaden your horizons and look for jobs in places where you really wouldn’t have considered at first.” Law student, Sheffield Hallam University
“I would recommend people broaden their search a little – they may be surprised by what interests them when they would not previously think of a specific type of job.” Classical Literature and Civilisation student, University Of Birmingham
Adopting a focused but flexible approach may mean not starting with one’s “dream” job, but can help find a starting point that’s sufficiently rewarding, and support the gradual development of a fulfilling career. Students believe this approach can be further reinforced by:
3. Using career resources and networks effectively, including careers sites, university careers services and academic staff, to help you become fully aware of your career options.
“Use online resources like the Guardian Top 300, use all of your contacts and meet with your academic advisor for career options.” Psychology student, Oxford Brookes University
4. Acquiring experience in one’s area of interest, which is a key way to stand out.
“Get some experience in the area you are interested in by temping or becoming an intern.” English Literature student, University Of Sussex
5. Leveraging your network of contacts, even if it’s limited at first.
“Ask people that you know as it is often not what you know but who you know.” Business Management student, Swansea University
6. Delivering a quality and tailored application, even if applying to many places.
“Pick any area you are interested in and design your CV around that. Do not simply create a broad CV and send it out to anyone and anything.” English Literature student, University Of Sussex
7. Persistence throughout the job search process.
“Determination and persistence. You can’t let your confidence take a knock.” English student, Neath Port Talbot College