The Guardian reported that in a poll by The Association of Graduate Recruiters which included over 200 firms (e.g. JP Morgan, Cadbury and Vodafone), the average number of applications per vacancy has soared to an all-time high of 68.8. In more competitive industries the figure can run as high as 205 applicants per vacancy.
However, other sources reveal different figures and paint a slightly different picture. Consider the following chart from the June 2010 Graduate Market Report:
From the above, you can see that on the whole, the applications per vacancy have in fact dropped since 2009. Not only are things getting better in this sense, but according to the same report firms are employing more people (see chart 3 below).
So above, we have two different sources with different sets of figures. The Association of Graduate Recruiters saying one thing, while the The Graduate Market Report saying another.
Which one is true? To a certain extent they both are and perhaps the reason for their disparity comes down to timing and when their data was collected.
Whichever the case, the key thing is to always take what you read in papers with a grain of salt, especially when you see headlines sensationalising, such as below:
“Class of 2010 told to consider flipping burgers or shelf stacking to build skills as they also compete with last year’s graduates”
The economy is rebounding but still somewhat shaky and graduates will fiercely be competing for jobs, no doubt about that. But hasn’t that always been the case?
All in all, gloomy figures should not discourage graduates nor should optimistic figures lessen efforts to improve employability skills.