Every year the number of graduates in the UK is rising and with it comes a job market flooded with new graduates looking for work and graduate learning positions. I graduated from the University of Leeds with a 2:1 degree in English Literature in 2019 and entered into a very difficult job market.
Between 2014 and 2019, the number of undergraduates receiving their degrees has risen by 12,700 students. Given the amount of fierce competition and the bottleneck of unemployed professionals seeking work due to the Covid-19 pandemic, searching for a graduate job has become more difficult than ever before. However, with hard work and dedication, it is far from impossible. With more events turning online and therefore more accessible than ever before, improving your skill set is only getting easier, and experience of any kind, even self-taught, can count for a lot.
Leeds University had numerous careers events from job fairs to useful workshops and talks, and the careers department, tucked away in Cromer Terrace, had a variety of sessions available with guidance on career choices, writing CVs and cover letters, application support and even mock interviews. I got some one-on-one advice from a staff member to help me figure out exactly what role I wanted to find.
I knew I had the skills to get a job, but lacked relevant experience – a job in retail kept a roof over my head while I searched for work (and saved me from being one of many young people forced by circumstance to live at their parents’ home) but it was a vastly different environment to the ones in which I was looking to work. Undeterred, I started applying. The graduate job market is not a fun place to be. It has become oversaturated with nowhere near enough jobs per graduate jobhunter; before the first lockdown, the average number was 80 applicants per vacancy, and the pandemic made things more difficult. As businesses became financially threatened, many companies installed a hiring freeze to combat the uncertainty of the times.
For the number of applications I sent out, very few were even met with replies, let alone progression. At the start of 2020 I managed to get a couple of interviews, including one at Zelst. Unfortunately I was unsuccessful, but I kept on applying for roles. In March 2020, the pandemic came to Britain in a very real way. I was on job websites daily but the number of available positions had dwindled. Any new listings would be very quickly met with an icon informing me that there were already many applicants.
The pandemic has been an incredibly demoralising place to be a jobhunter. Applying for hundreds of jobs has meant little in terms of results and it can take a toll on the mental wellbeing of those still searching.
But at long last, there is light at the end of the tunnel. On February 22, Boris Johnson announced a roadmap out of lockdown to hopefully make it the last lockdown. The next day I applied to another job at Zelst. Less than a week later, I had another interview. I was offered a position as a trainee digital content specialist. After a combined 16 months of searching, trying and falling short, I found myself in the perfect job.
Finding your first job as a graduate can be a gruelling process and it can test your patience, perseverance and thick skin. But when you eventually step into your first role and all that stress is suddenly lifted – there’s no better feeling in the world. If you’re a soon-to-be or recent graduate, check out our vacancies to find your ideal digital marketing role today.