March 30, 2015 11:03 am Published by

As the job market slowly appears to be improving for young people and we enter the key recruitment period that follows the glut of fresh graduates and labour market churn, many twenty-something’s thoughts will be turning to how to get that first post-uni job, how to move into a permanent position, or even for a change of direction after seizing that first far-from-ideal chance.

The good news is that the final quarter of this year could be a good one, with an anticipated rise in the number of vacancies. In August the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC) published the latest of their JobsOutlook survey, a useful barometer as to the direction of the labour market in the UK. The survey offers some hope for those seeking opportunities, with 79% of businesses stating that they are looking to hire permanent staff in the next 4-12 months and more than a third saying that they are operating at full capacity. Even more impressively a stunning 86% of recruiters are looking to hire people in the next quarter, so if there ever was a time to rejig that cv and hit the web it’s now.

The most interesting development in the REC’s report, however, is in what employers claim to be looking for in a candidate. Only 20% claim to be primarily interested in a young person’s level of qualification, and a miniscule 4% are interested in the grade achieved. This is galling- if not overly surprising- news for many graduates who have just invested tens of thousands of pounds and several years of effort into their education. So what are these employers most responsive to in a candidate?

Apparently: Attitude. Almost half of employers questioned stated that the single most important factor that they are considering as part of their hiring process is the attitude of the candidate. Unfortunately exactly what characteristics should be exhibited by a candidate aren’t entirely agreed upon; however it is at least useful to know where to focus effort in your applications. If you can make yourself appear enthusiastic, reliable and dynamic the impact of that is likely to have more than twice the impact of qualifications and nearly five times the impact that your employment experience brings to bear (only 10% of recruiters consider it the single most important factor in their decision making).

Perhaps when one considers Reed’s JobIndex’s five hottest recruitment sectors at present, generating the most employment opportunities, it makes sense, with the car industry, construction, hospitality, transport and leisure the real growth sectors. The news will nonetheless prove frustrating for graduates, and not only those focused on these sectors. However it is should be noted that although a degree and A levels isn’t the largest deciding factor, it is still a vitally important one. The good(ish) news is that ‘attitude’, even as a very difficult to define attribute (what do employers consider the right attitude?) is something over which jobseekers have an element of control, even if they are flying a little blind. With the market picking up again and youth unemployment down significantly year-on-year there is at least, finally, some hope on the horizon for young jobseekers.


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