The changing face of graduate career expectations

A lot can happen in three years, especially when world events move quickly enough to emasculate the Celtic Tiger and create grief where once there was optimism.

Three years ago, according to The Irish Times, Irish graduates were the golden generation, looking forward to a lifetime of opportunity and above average earnings.

This year a huge annual survey of students in Ireland, conducted by trendence for gradireland, paints a very different picture indeed. 80 per cent of students say they are concerned about their future, two-thirds would happily consider moving anywhere in the world for work and a third definitely plan to leave Ireland on graduation. They expect to make at least 30 applications to land a job and the whole painful process to last six months.

When it comes to what graduates look for in an employer, job security comes at the top of the list. This is very different to three years ago when most graduates expected to move jobs four times in their first ten years at work. Not, of course, because of redundancy but because the booming economy made job changes and promotion possible.

And finally, students in 2011 expect to earn less in their first job than their counterparts three years ago.

If you’ve read this far, you may well be disappearing under the duvet with a plate of comfort food. But consider this. If so much can happen in the last three years, then so much else can happen during the next three. The trendence survey is a snapshot in time and just as no-one really foresaw the speed of the recession, no-one will accurately foresee the onset of recovery. And, as previous posters have said, there are still graduate jobs around in Ireland and still sectors that are recruiting well. And as my Gran used to say, getting depressed over the future inhibits positive action. Or words to that effect.

Why awards matter to graduate recruiters

bson, RTE, presents the gradireland Graduate Recruitment Awards 2011

Bryan Dobson, RTE, presents the gradireland Graduate Recruitment Awards 2011

What brings over 300 graduate recruiters, careers advisers and government ministers out on a Wednesday night in Dublin? A big Awards evening, that’s what. I know it’s really about taking part and that winning isn’t everything but nothing fires the blood quite like hearing your name read out and rushing up to the stage to collect the trophy. Especially when the PA is playing ‘Eye of the Tiger’ or ‘Simply the Best’.

Earlier in April, the Mansion House in Dublin saw the largest gathering of the graduate recruitment community in Ireland and the majority of the awards were decided by the votes of students and graduates. Yes, hearts were broken and wishes fulfilled by your votes.

And the organisations on the shortlists for each sector, not just the winners, take it all with deadly seriousness. Why? Because the ultimate test for a graduate recruiter is their popularity amongst students and graduates. It really matters to them. It’s how their measure the success of their campus campaigns and marketing.

The annual voting for next year’s Awards – the results of which also appear in the annual publication Ireland’s leading 100 graduate employers – starts in September and the voting process is organised by an international research firm trendence which does the same student poll in 24 other countries in Europe.

So if you want to put a smile on the faces of Ireland’s leading recruiters, you know what to do. Cast your votes when the survey opens in September. Full details will be on and with your campus careers service.

And if you wanted to see this year’s Award winners, go to

The gradireland Graduate Recruitment Awards 2011: a positive outlook for graduates

The gradireland recruitment awards 2011 took place at the Mansion House, Dublin earlier this week, and it was a really happy event. The mood was one of celebration, positivity and energy – there ARE jobs out there, graduates ARE getting them, and being very successful to boot, thank you very much – which made for a welcome change to the usual doom and gloom that has surrounded most graduate employment issues in the national psyche of late.

Of course, all is not rosy across every sector, and unsurprisingly construction is still struggling (although interestingly the number of jobs advertised in this sector on over the last 12 months has doubled). However it’s simply not true that emigration is the only viable option left open for Ireland’s current crop of graduates, as has been suggested in the media over recent weeks and months.

This year’s awards ceremony was the biggest in its history, with student votes cast from every single higher education institution across the island of Ireland, and judged by an independent panel of industry experts. The overall winner on the night was Deloitte, which scooped the coveted award for the most popular graduate employer, and also came top in its sector (accountancy and professional services). Other winners included Abbott Ireland for the best graduate training and development programme, and CITI Group for the AHEAD Disability and Inclusion award.

The high calibre of Ireland’s fourth-level education was also celebrated, with the University of Limerick, Trinity College Dublin, Waterford Institute of Technology and Dublin City University all winning awards for their exceptional postgraduate offerings. (For a complete list of all the winners and runners up, see Well done to everyone, and here’s to next year.

Graduate jobs in first quarter of 2011 have grown – but you need to know where to find them

small green plantSpring is here, bringing with it feelings of optimism, growth and rebirth – but does any of that apply to the graduate jobs market? Well, there are certainly continuing signs of life, and not necessarily in the places you might expect it.

An in-depth analysis of the first quarter of 2011 shows that we have actually seen an average 44 per cent rise in the number of graduate jobs year-on-year on the gradireland site compared to the same period in 2010.

This is due to a number of factors. It is not solely down to more jobs being created, certainly not on that scale, although there is incremental growth in many sectors, as we shall see below.

Much of this growth, however, is to do with recruiter behaviour. A recent ‘secret test’ by a leading employer placed one vacancy for their graduate scheme on two well-known jobs boards, and also on The two jobs boards garnered 200 applications, but only one applicant met the employers’ criteria for entry to their grad scheme; generated only 81 CVs, but 20 met the entry criteria.

This explains the current trend for employers to work directly with both careers services and gradireland to promote their vacancies ‘under the radar’ of mainstream press or online jobs boards. This niche targeting of graduates saves time and effort from a recruiter’s perspective, and partly explains the growth in jobs on (and university careers services websites).

We are also finding that students and graduates who are registered on gradireland and actively participating in their career search are becoming much more engaged. This can be seen in the open and response rates to the gradireland email service: the daily update immediate vacancy emails have gone from an open rate of 15.5 per cent in January to 18.32 per cent in March, and the targeted emails (which are sent to a niche sub-sector of the gradireland database) have an average open rate now of 23 per cent, up from 18 per cent. Both of these figures are very high by industry standards.

Lastly, a few notable observations in a couple of sectors where you may not expect to see growth. The average number of vacancies on targeting students with qualifications in construction, civil engineering and quantity surveying has doubled from 4 to 8 per day since the beginning of the year – a tiny number, but good to see that there are still companies targeting students with these skills. And the ‘green economy’ is a reality – opportunities on the site in this sector have grown from just 2 to 8 per day since the turn of the year.

So what do we take from this? The green shoots of recovery are there; and if you are looking for a graduate career, make sure you are registered on to avoid missing out on the ‘hidden jobs’.

Engineering, economic development and job creation

Ireland cannot fill 1,200 job vacancies in the biomedical sector, according to publicity released by Engineers Ireland ahead of their annual conference last week.

The statement from John Power, Director General of the professional body, described how there are currently 1,200 unfilled engineering vacancies across Ireland in the pharmaceutical and biomedical sectors: ‘in a country that has over 430,000 people unemployed this is a remarkable figure’.

The conference itself continued the discussion on the role of engineering in the economy under the optimistic title ‘Engineering New Wealth for Ireland’.

Economist David McWilliams’ comments on ‘Working with Ireland’s Economic Reality’ went down particularly well with the 260 engineers present, judging by the conference’s Twitter stream. He is quoted as saying: ‘Engineers are prepared to fail as well as succeed… every wealthy country has engineers at its centre.’

Frank Ryan, Chief Executive of Enterprise Ireland, spoke on ‘Options for an Export Led Recovery’ and listed many examples of Irish engineering companies that are leading in world markets.

There were strong voices too from Aer Lingus Chief Executive Christoph Mueller, speaking on the importance of valuing skilled craftsmen, from Dermot Byrne of Eirgrid on the opportunities for energy export in the next decade, and from Pat Cox, former President of the European Parliament, talking of the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship.

And there is a good basis for engineers to see themselves at the centre of job creation: engineering is one of the top three sectors for graduate job vacancies on

The conference was open to Engineers Ireland student members as well as experienced professionals, and if you’re an engineering student it’s worth checking out other benefits of student membership to see how they might help your own career.