The class of 2021: How looking for graduate jobs has changed this year
Graduates of 2021 are entering into a different type of job market.
However, with the country opening up over the last few months, job opportunities for graduates have continued to improve. In fact, the whole country has experienced a jobs boom, with record numbers of roles on offer. But you may still have to take a slightly different approach to find the graduate job you really want.
Here’s a look at how the job market has changed for 2021 graduates and our advice on how to find a graduate job that matches your skills.
How things have changed for graduates in 2021
Every sector has in some way been affected by the pandemic and economic downturn it’s caused, meaning the class of 2021 are entering into a competitive job market. Even despite the current jobs boom.
Some of the reasons for this are that fewer graduate programmes have been running. Some companies decided to cut-back on the number of graduates they’re hiring and may have been waiting for confidence in the economy to improve. In fact, graduate roles were down 81% in June 2020*, in comparison to the same period in 2019. And, although they’ve increased again this year, they still haven’t reached the levels seen two years ago.
In addition, this year’s graduates are going up for jobs against some of the graduates of 2020, as well as those who want a new job post the pandemic – especially with the furlough scheme due to come to an end in September.
How employers are recruiting for graduates has also changed. In person job fairs and graduate open days haven’t been able to take place so employers had to move these online. Additionally, candidate screening and interviews are mainly done by video or over the phone, something graduates are having to quickly adapt to.
Tips on how to get a graduate job in 2021
Despite looking for work changing significantly over the last year, there’s still reason for graduates to be optimistic about entering the jobs market in 2021. Roles in the graduate, training and internship sector were up by 365% in June, compared to the same period last year. Salaries are also on the rise across the country.
To help you find your perfect post-university position, here are some of our top tips to set yourself apart from the competition.
Create a stand-out CV
On average, employers spend seven seconds looking at your CV before deciding if you’ve got the skills and experience that they’re looking for. So it’s never been more important to make sure you get your formatting right and stand out for all the right reasons.
Our graduate CV template is designed to show off your skills, experience and qualifications to potential employers. We also have dedicated articles for everything from personal statements, and how to cover details of your education and employment history, right through to who to ask for a reference and whether to include hobbies and interests.
So no matter what part of your application you’re struggling with, we’ve got you covered.
Focus on sectors that are thriving
Sectors such as hospitality and catering, retail, healthcare, IT and communications have thrived during the pandemic. Focusing your search on areas that are actively hiring for graduates is often a great place to start.
Even though you may not have direct experience in these sectors, the skills you gained whilst studying, working part-time or through volunteering can make you an attractive candidate to employers who value people with transferable skills.
It can also be a great way to show recruiters in your chosen field that you were proactive about employment whilst waiting for the right opportunity to come up – not to mention allow you to add valuable experience to your CV and earn whilst you wait.
Leverage your network
Reaching out to your personal, academic and professional connections can prove successful when searching for a graduate job. Firstly, let your family and friends know what type of role you’re interested in. Next, talk to your university lecturers and tutors as they may have links with companies and key decision makers.
Also, don’t ignore the power of social media To get the most out of searching for jobs on social platforms, consider following companies that you’re keen to work for to stay up to date with company news, connect with people who work in the industry and share posts with your followers about the type of job you want.
Send out speculative applications
A speculative application is when you contact a company that you’re keen to work with to find out if they have any open vacancies that may be suitable for you. If the employer is impressed with your skills and experience or if they have a suitable vacancy, they may contact you directly when the right role comes up.
Tailoring your CV to the job and writing a personalised cover letter is important when speculatively reaching out to employers. Firstly, address your cover letter to a key decision maker within the company. Secondly, explain why you want to work for the company and what impresses you about them, e.g. its sustainability promise, the employee wellness practices it’s introduced, etc. Finish off the letter by explaining how your skills will benefit the company. For example, you might want to mention how your time management skills help to keep projects on schedule.
Build on your knowledge with a course
OK, we know you’ve just spent the last few years studying. But hear us out.
If you think there are gaps in your skill set, then enrolling in a job or skill-specific course could really help strengthen your application. Whether you’re looking to gain an extra qualification in the field you’re interested in, take on a postgraduate degree, improve a specific skill like communication, or even improve your online interview technique.
There are thousands of options out there, many of which have great discounts throughout the year – and some are even free. And with the vast majority offering some form of flexible online learning, you’ll easily be able to fit studying around your schedule.
Tap into the best jobs with the Reed.co.uk app
The easiest way to manage your job search is by downloading the new Reed.co.uk app. By doing so you’ll be among the first to be notified when the latest graduate roles are added to the site.
All you need to do is create a profile that sells your skills, and upload your CV. You can then instantly start searching for jobs on-the-go, and apply for roles in seconds.
Search, swipe, apply – and find your perfect graduate job with Reed.co.uk today.
*all figures based on roles advertised on Reed.co.uk in June 2021 (vs. June 2020 and June 2019)
Ready to love Mondays? Find your graduate job now