Bright Network’s Graduate Survey Shows Key Career & Employment Findings

What do graduates want? is a look at what 2,303 current undergraduates studying at UK universities think about their future career. The research was conducted by Bright Network – the free to join careers community of 80,000+ graduates and 250+ leading employers – in January and February of this year. 66% of those surveyed are state-educated, 46% BAME and 14% have received free school meals. 38% are the first generation to go to university and 59% are female.

Asked to choose whether it’s more important to secure a top grade whilst at university or a graduate job, 55% of students said a top grade.

The report reveals that over 90% of graduates think it’s important to gain work experience whilst at university and 70% believe it is important to secure a graduate job before they finish. However, when asked to choose whether it’s more important to secure a top grade at university or a graduate job, 55% of those surveyed opted for the former with 14% more women than men thinking that gaining a top grade at university is more important than getting a graduate job.

The research also found that despite the well-known importance of internships in helping you secure a job after university, 35% of undergraduates aren’t applying for them – indicating that more needs to be done to educate them about the importance of gaining work experience. However, even once they have secured an internship or graduate job, 64% of students keep job hunting and would reject an offer made to them if they received a better opportunity at a later date.

Strong competition from other graduates, lack of experience and a lack of network/contacts are seen as the biggest barriers to securing a graduate job. Women, BAME and state-school students do not tend to perceive their background or gender as a big barrier to their future career success.

When it comes to assessing their skills, male graduates rank themselves highly when it comes to problem solving whereas women perceive their organisation skills to be stronger. All of those surveyed rate their ability to negotiate and persuade, their commercial awareness and their confidence amongst their weakest skills.

30% of those surveyed worry about being perceived as overly ambitious and when asked about what career success in five year’s time looks like, graduates defined it as a good balance between their personal and professional life. 81% of current undergraduates are already thinking about how they will juggle work and family in the future.

Other key findings from the What do graduates want? report include:

– 65% of students spend less than two hours researching an employer before deciding to apply
– Work experience and family/friends are the biggest influence on a graduates’ sector/employer preference
– Graduates are looking for a fast-growing and innovative employer with a friendly and respectful working environment. They want professional training and development, and a clear path for advancement in their role
– 38% of those surveyed are more likely to apply for a role based in London and 34% are open to any location
– 64% of graduates would reject a job offer if they were offered a better opportunity from another employer
– 57% of those surveyed have a LinkedIn profile, with BAME students 14% more likely to have one than the average. However of those who do have a LinkedIn profile, 37% aren’t sure how to use it

James Uffindell, CEO & Founder of Bright Network said

‘The results from our latest survey show that undergraduates are hungry, motivated and ambitious when it comes to their future career prospects.

With demand for graduates at an all-time high, the competition for this top talent remains fierce. It’s great to know that students are actively engaged with what their lives will be like once studying has finished and they enter the world of work.

However with over 70,000 unfilled graduate level vacancies in the UK, more needs to be done to educate students about the importance of gaining work experience so that they will avoid unemployment and secure a job when they graduate.’