Opportunity beckons as graduate fair expects record numbers

Up to 5,000 positions in retail, finance and public service on offer at gradireland fair

Graduates are seeing the tables beginning to turn as the Irish economy starts to return to rude health. Current economic growth is fuelling the optimism among employers, with growing numbers of graduate jobs on offer and increasing average graduate starting salaries.

Five years ago the labour market was heavily weighted in favour of employers, who could pick and choose between the myriad students.

Now the power balance has started to shift to graduates as 49 per cent of employers surveyed in the gradireland 2017 Graduate Salary and Graduate Recruitment Trends Survey said they were increasing the amount of jobs for graduates due to an increase in business.

A growing number of top employers are increasing the intake of their graduate programmes to deal business growth.


Editor of gradireland Ruairí Kavanagh says this year’s gradireland fair in the RDS is set to be the biggest in in the past 10 years, with 10,000 visitors expected – up from 8,000 last year.

“The scale has grown significantly – even since last year. One hundred and twenty 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 like Lidl, Deloitte and the banks are really going to town this year in terms of scale and having more people there to talk to students," he says.

So while the RDS fair is a welcome break from studies, Kavanagh says students should come armed with a plan and a purpose.

“Don’t do a lap and wander aimlessly. Bring plenty of enthusiasm, which employers value so much these days, and a well-written compact CV. Make sure your CV is tailored and shows all the experience beyond your degree that you have gained at college – your extra curricular work, clubs, societies, volunteering, part-time jobs and so on,” he says.

There’s more good news for the class of 2018 – when taken as an average across all sectors, a 2017 graduate can expect to be paid a starting salary of €28,554.

In terms of salary levels, almost half of the graduate employers surveyed (49 per cent ) 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 per annum, 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.

“Think outside the box and not just in terms of your degree, people in marketing can look at finance, people in arts can go to public sector – the jobs aren’t all banking or accountancy,” he says.

While companies have been making great attempts to target the class of 2018 who have grow up with their phone in their hand, face-to-face interaction still rules, he says.

“Online is important but enthusiasm and a well-written CV and a chat in person still means a lot. You can’t beat real-life interaction and making connections. You never know who you could be speaking to and how they could help,” he says.

The expectation that all companies require a 2:1 or higher needs to be addressed: “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.

Kavanagh says in the past four or five years the balance has swung toward students

“By the same token employers ate tough and have high standards and will expect students to hit the mark. Students shouldn’t get too complacent either – it’s never going to be easy to get a good job but thankfully there are a lot more jobs and different types of jobs out there,” 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 ongraduatecareersfair.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 will also be available.

Students will be able to speak to representatives of Irish universities and UK universities including the 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.