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Why is it hard to get a graduate level job after university?

  • Publish Date: Posted about 3 years ago
  • Author:by VANRATH

​Why is it hard to get a graduate level job after university?

If you’ve finished your degree and are in the middle of your graduate job hunt, you may be wondering “why is it so hard to get a job after university?”

As you have put so much time, money and energy into finishing university and getting good grades, you’ll definitely be keen to turn your degree into a career that you’ll enjoy.

However, the competition for good graduate jobs is fierce. It’s a sobering fact but only 52% of graduates get a graduate-level job. The rest end up being underemployed in jobs that did not require a degree.

Each year, around 800,000 people graduate in the UK. These fresh graduates join an existing pool of graduates who graduated in previous years who are still looking for a graduate job. In 2019, there were an additional 1.2 million graduates who were still struggling to find a graduate job from 2016-18. On top of this, there are around 300k + international students who wish to get a graduate job in the UK.

In this article, we will help you to gain a better understanding of the graduate job market and why it is so hard to get a job after university.

Why is it so hard to get a job after university: It’s really competitive

The graduate job market is highly competitive because there is an overabundance of qualified graduates. For every job vacancy, there are around 80 applicants. Some of the Times Top 100 graduate employers receive 650+ applications per vacancy for their structured graduate schemes.

Whilst you will be searching for a job in an extremely competitive market there are many things you can do to boost your chances and gain a competitive advantage by getting some one-to-one career coaching and interview training.

Understanding the graduate job market

Around 90% of students study a non-vocational degree. Unlike vocational degrees like medicine or dentistry that lead to a specific career, graduates with non-vocational degrees often struggle to work out what graduate job is right for them.

Many graduates are unaware of the industries that take on several graduates each year and the skills required. The graduate job market is demanding graduates with skills in digital, tech and IT.

By 2022 it is estimated that there will be a demand for 1 million + digitally skilled workers who are educated to degree level.

Why is it so hard to get a job after university: The demands of the graduate job market has changed

You might be finding it hard to get a job after university because you are looking for graduate jobs that are scarce rather than the ones that are more abundant. If you didn’t study a tech-related degree you may be worried about transitioning into a career in digital, tech or it. However, remember, your transferable skills will be highly valued.

A degree alone is no longer enough

Many graduates focus on getting a 1st or a 2:1 degree classification. However, good grades alone is not enough to impress employers.

Most graduate jobs require a 2:1 or a 2:2 as a minimum entry requirement. However, even if you get a first-class degree, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be seen as more favourable to graduate employers.

As there is an abundance of qualified grads, recruiters are seeking to acquire the most workplace-ready candidates who can demonstrate that they have the skills and competencies to do the job.

Why is it so hard to get a job after university: Lack of work experience

Maybe you placed too much emphasis on academics whilst at university and didn’t engage in activities to boost your employability skills.

Employers are looking to hire the best graduates who can articulate their competencies and demonstrate their skills. You’ll be expected to have developed your soft skills such as time management, communication and teamwork. Depending on the role you may need to also demonstrate relevant hard skills.

If you do not have any work experience, you may find it hard to convince the employer. Graduate employers will look for evidence of your skills in your CV and cover letter as well as in your interviews.

You’ve never been taught how to navigate the job search process

The graduate job application process involves completing several stages. You’ll need to:

  • Create an effective CV

  • Write an effective cover letter

  • Work out what graduate job titles to apply for

  • Use a good recruitment agency like VANRATH

  • Pass online aptitude tests

  • Nail your interviews

Throughout your entire academic career, it is unlikely that you would have received adequate careers advice. Even if you visited your career service at university, it most likely wasn’t bespoke to your needs, as universities don’t have the resource to offer tailored advice to each and every student.

What to do if you are finding it hard to get a graduate job

If you are having little or no success with your job search or discovering your career path, get in touch with our recruitment experts.

We will help you with everything from applying for jobs to nailing your interviews.

As well as getting expert careers advice from our team, take a proactive approach to your job search. Attend networking events, we’ll follow up with your applications and gather your feedback after every interview.

We hope that you found our post on why it is so hard to get a job after university insightful.

At VANRATH building career success stories is what we do. We are experts in helping you find your next step and reach your personal career goals, even when you have no idea what the next step should be.

For us, it’s more than just finding you a job you are suitable for, it’s about building a sustainable career with the right roles and the right company to fit with your unique goals and experience.

Want to read more articles like this? Be sure to visit VANRATH’s News, which features industry insights and career advice. We post regularly on our LinkedIn page too, follow us to keep up to date. If you’re seeking immediate career advice call 028 9033 0250 or e-mail