Professions and occupations

In 2014, the graduate market shows strong signs of growth. The Association of Graduate Recruiters’ annual survey is the benchmark by which we and other graduate recruiters take stock of how the graduate recruitment arena is faring. I thought perhaps you might be interested in both the AGR’s findings – as well as our feedback from a Discovery Graduates perspective.

Graduate Vacancies

According to the AGR report:

• The AGR predicts a 17.1% increase in graduate vacancies

Our experience:

The market is positive. Many of our committed graduate recruitment clients, with a history of taking 2 – 3 graduates per year, have doubled their intake in 2014.

For example, initially the Coventry based pressings supplier Covpress briefed us to fill three positions. In the end they took seven graduates!

Likewise, Luton based engineering firm, Hayward Tyler asked us to source candidates for three positions and eventually offered six graduates.

We’re delighted to be working with Gatwick Airport this year. They have recently launched a new program for Aspiring Managers. Although this is not a graduate-specific course, applications from graduates are considered alongside school leavers and more experienced candidates. It’s great to see a company of this size actively embracing a good mix of new talent from different sources.

So what does this mean for graduate recruiters? Well there is definitely more competition out there, particularly for engineers. Even during the recession nearly a quarter of AGR members were reporting positions left unfilled.


According to the AGR report:

• The median graduate starting salary for 2013-2014 is predicted to be £27,000.
The sectors attracting the highest salaries remain the same – investment banking, law firms and financial services.

Our experience:

We are seeing graduate salaries amongst our clients creeping up to £25k. This is reflective across both SMEs and Blue Chip companies.


According to the AGR report:

• There has been an overall decrease in the average number of applications per vacancy, from 85.3 in 2012-2013 to 69.2 in 2013-2014.
• FMCG companies receive the highest average number of applications per vacancy (161.7).

Our experience:

Applications are generally down and companies are having to work harder to be heard with the average marketing spend per vacancy across all AGR members in 2013-2014 predicted at £2,159, a slight increase from 2012-13.  Businesses must also consider how to target the best and right graduates for business – it is more than just placing an advert, it is about engaging and educating them over a period of time about your opportunities on offer (often non-traditional graduate recruiters, industries and roles). Discovery Graduates prides itself on working with companies to compete for the best talent alongside the big names in graduate recruitment.


I’d like to share with you some interesting statistics on the application process that may encourage you to reflect on or help you benchmark your own process.

Did you know:

• A minimum 2:1 degree remains the most common selection criteria used by AGR members

My thoughts:

It is important to ask your business – ‘is this the right selection criteria for your roles. What does it mean to your business and is it a true indicator of future success?’

• 95.1% of employers are recruiting graduates via online applications.

My thoughts:

What is the experience for a graduate of applying for your company? Do you make it accessible and reflective of your business?

• Over one sixth (17.9%) of employers accept a CV and covering letter.

• Final round assessment centres are the most popular selection instrument with 83.7% of employers using them.

• 67.4% use psychometric testing. Profiling tools are a great development tool to help graduates gain self awareness in the early induction period

• Since 2012-2013, the proportion of AGR members using video interviews has nearly doubled.

• The application process this year is, on average, quicker. 54.1% of all AGR employers reported that the process takes two months or less.

• 88.2% of AGR members run, or intend to run, a graduate development programme. This is a slight decrease from the 2012-13 rate of 89.3%.

• The most commonly reported method of graduate development is on-the-job training at 93.3% followed by training away from the job at 82.9%.

Student placements and internships

According to the AGR report:

• 88.9% of AGR members provided placement and/or internship programmes in 2012-2013.

• AGR recruiters on average converted one-third of all placement or internship programme students to graduate recruits.

• 74% use same selection instruments for placements and internships as graduate positions.

Our experience:

Graduate Development Programmes

We had the biggest OPEN Programme intake yet of 26 for the Spring 2014 programme and have already got 30 graduates starting their journey with us over the next 12 months, with the Autumn programme induction taking place in October 2014. New developments in the OPEN Programme have reinforced it as an essential tool for companies developing graduate talent and future leaders in their business in a consistent and measurable way, particularly through the introduction of the appraisal tool PEARL.


How do you measure up?

It is important to set KPIs around your graduate recruitment campaign in order to measure the success and effectiveness of them. Here are some helpful numbers to put the figures into perspective.

• 48.3% of all AGR employers (who monitor retention rates) have retained all of their graduates recruited one year ago.

• The average retention rate for graduates recruited one year ago is 94.8%; after three years this drops to 79.0%, and then falls further to 66.6% after five years and to 41.4% after ten years.


In conclusion

Every year when the AGR annual report comes out, I make time to stop, reflect and think and I would encourage you to do the same.


What will it take for you to stay competitive in the graduate market? How will you ensure you secure and retain the best graduate talent for your business?

Retention of graduates, or getting the most out of them whilst they are with you, is an important element of any graduate recruitment strategy. As it becomes more challenging to secure the best graduates it is essential to make the most of them once they arrive. See CEO Jonathan Evans’ recent blog post about retention here.

Thanks for taking the time to read my musings – if you have any thoughts on these findings or any other aspect of graduate recruitment, please do leave a comment and let’s discuss!