Growing numbers of graduate jobs on offer as economy improves

With emigration now at pre-recession levels, the class of 2018 is in an enviable position

While companies have been making great attempts to target the class of 2018 with online applications and the chance to do video CVs, the power of face-to-face interaction cannot be underestimated. Photograph: iStock

While companies have been making great attempts to target the class of 2018 with online applications and the chance to do video CVs, the power of face-to-face interaction cannot be underestimated. Photograph: iStock

 

With Ireland’s economy returning to rude health, graduates are set to be spoiled for choice at this year’s Grad Ireland fair taking place at Dublin’s RDS on October 3rd.

The ongoing boost to the economy is fuelling the optimism among employers, with growing numbers of graduate jobs on offer and increasing average graduate starting salaries.

During the recession, students were fighting tooth and nail for jobs, with the market tipped heavily in favour of employers. Many students were faced with emigration.

With emigration now at pre-recession levels, the class of 2018 is in the enviable position of having plenty of choice.

The 2018 Gradireland Graduate Salary and Graduate Recruitment Trends Survey notes companies are increasing the amount of jobs for graduates due to an increase in business growth.

Editor of Gradireland Ruairí Kavanagh says this year’s Gradireland fair at the RDS is set to surpass last year’s attendance, with 10,000 attendees expected – up from 8,000 in 2016. He says the 110 exhibition spaces are already full up – a first for the fair.

“Over 120 employers and course-providers will be there on the day and these companies will be looking to hire over 5,000 employees,” he says.

“Employers are really pushing the boat out this year when it comes to wooing students so it’s set to be a great event. We have had unprecedented demand from employers to get in early and attract graduates as competition is fierce. There are plenty of novel interactions this year, with one company even bringing a choir,” he says.

A plan and a purpose

While the RDS fair is considered a fun day from the grind of final year, Kavanagh says students should come with a plan and a purpose.

“Don’t just turn up after lunch and do a few laps of the place aimlessly. Dress well, arrive early if you can and bring a well-written, compact CV or a notebook to jot down job or programme information. Make sure your CV is tailored and not generic and shows all the experience beyond your degree that you have gained at college – extra-curricular work, clubs, societies, volunteering, any part-time job or internships you have done,” he says.

While companies have been making great attempts to target the class of 2018 with online applications and the chance to do video CVs, Kavanagh insists the power of face-to-face interaction cannot be underestimated.

“You can’t beat real-life interaction and having a proper chat about what a job will be like or if it is for you or not. It’s also a great way to make new connections or meet people who can give your career a steer in the right direction,” he says.

“I would almost say to make the most of it, you should treat it nearly like a job interview. Stands will be swamped but bring along what employers want to see depending on your potential careers area. If you’re looking for a professional services firm like Deloitte etc, show up in formal attire,” he says.

Kavanagh says the traditional expectation of a 2:1 degree to get on to a graduate programme is something employers are becoming more flexible about.

“It’s not all about a 2:1 degree – companies aren’t drawing the line at graduates who don’t have a 2:1 or throwing them on the scrap heap. They’re looking for other attributes such as work experience or volunteering or that you have showed initiative or experience in a relevant area,” he says.

There’s more good news for the class of 2018 – when taken as an average across all sectors, a 2018 graduate can expect to be paid a starting salary of about €28,554.

Almost half of the graduate employers surveyed this year pay between €24,000 and €30,000 as a graduate starting salary.

More than 35 per cent of graduates will start on between €30,000 and €34,000, with the best salaries being paid in retail management and the legal sector.

Kavanagh says students shouldn’t be afraid to go up to a company that is outside their field of study.

Not just salary

But it’s not just salary that this tranche of graduates are considering when looking for a career, so exhibitors will be selling what makes their company great to work for and what perks they offer.

“In the current climate, companies realise they will have a hard time retaining talent as the number of job opportunities has widened. They are all working hard on what they are offering to graduates so retention is improving. Employers work hard to retain graduates by offering things like more flexible working hours, the possibility of remote working and better training and development. What we’re hearing from graduates is: what can you offer me apart from the money?”

And finally, Kavanagh says graduates should do their research and not just narrow their job search to one field: “Research companies and know what they’re up to or what they are working on or what kind of opportunities they offer. Don’t narrow your company choice – all companies needs marketing, data, communications – think about the industry you want to work in and you don’t just need to have a specific degree. Finance graduates can work for tech firms and vice versa – think laterally and don’t forget to promote and highlight your soft skills, things like project management, communication and working with people,” he says.

Gradireland’s partners will offer a free CV clinic for attendees, providing more than 50 hours of free one-to-one graduate careers advice.

The event is free to attend, students just need to register on graduatecareersfair.com for a ticket, and they can also find out full details about exhibitors, speakers, tips to maximise the fair and more on that website.

For anyone not quite ready for the world of work, information on postgraduate courses is available.

Students will be able to speak to representatives from Irish universities and UK universities such as University of Salford, Edge Hill University and Canterbury Christ Church University.

Prospective postgraduate students can find out about the colleges’ courses, application dates and funding opportunities.

There will also be a Further Study Zone with more than 20 exhibitors, offering a wide range of postgraduate options and information.