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UCL Careers Employer Insights – April 2020

By Joe O'Brien, on 22 April 2020

Written by Glyn Jones, Careers Consultant at UCL Careers.

Have you been wondering how recent events may affect your career plans or employability in the future?

The global shutdown caused by Covid-19 has had a significant impact on the graduate labour market. As well as keeping in touch with professional organisations for labour market updates, UCL Careers have also been actively surveying recruiters and collecting labour market information to learn:

· What employers are predicting in relation to number of internships and graduate roles

· How the current situation is affecting their recruitment methods

· And what it means for those who were due to start a graduate role, internship or work this summer

Will opportunities such as internships and graduate roles still be advertised?

Offices being shut and consequently work being carried out remotely has resulted in many organisations rethinking their recruitment strategies.

Results from an initial survey conducted by the Institute of Student Employers (ISE) showed that 27% of employers indicated they would be recruiting fewer entry-level graduate hires and 31% of those surveyed predicted less interns and placement students over the summer. This is disappointing news, which is also mirrored in the current general decrease in the number of vacancies (both internships and graduate level jobs) posted on job vacancy sites. However, it is worth noting that there seemed to be a substantial amount of uncertainty amongst the organisations surveyed. The ISE survey results stated that 28% of employers hiring for graduate roles, and 31% hiring interns and placement students, were still unsure as to what impact this would have on recruitment numbers.

The survey that UCL Careers carried out two weeks later painted a similar picture; 16% of graduate role employers and 31% of internship providers stated that they were still undecided on how their recruitment would look. Some organisations were already able to confirm that their roles would continue. This was more evident amongst those offering graduate roles (44%), whilst only 20% for those offering internship programmes were able to confirm this at the time. In addition, we saw from the survey results that 21% of graduate role employers would be pausing, freezing, or otherwise delaying their recruitment and this was the case for 15% of internship providers.

These results do demonstrate the uncertainty that we are currently seeing across the graduate employment market, both with major recruiters, as surveyed by the ISE and within small-to-medium enterprises as seen in the results of the UCL Careers survey, who make up a major proportion of graduate destinations for UCL students. However, with the indication that some organisations have already confirmed their intention to continue recruiting, as well as the willingness of businesses to adapt to the increase in online and remote working, it is worth noting that opportunities are still being advertised.

We’d encourage you to continue to monitor vacancy sites such as the myUCLCareers jobs board

Are organisations ready to conduct online recruitment?

Of those continuing with their recruitments processes, many seem ready and willing to adapt quickly. From the ISE survey results, we found that 60% of employers had already moved their assessment centres online and 71% had done the same with their interviews by the middle of March. These findings seemed to be echoed in the results of our survey, where 81% of employers were either already prepared to deliver online recruitment or training, or expect to be very soon.

These are reassuring signs that although there has been a shift for recruitment to take place online, the fundamental process and skills required from candidates remain the same.

For tips on how to master live and recorded video interviews be sure to check our CareersLab videos on 5 Expert Tips For Live Video Interviews and How to ace video interviews (recorded video interviews).

I already have a job offer, will it still be honoured?

As well as covering information relating to upcoming vacancies and recruitment, the surveys we looked at considered graduates who already hold an offer for future employment.

Our own survey results illustrated a relatively positive picture, with 68% of responses indicating that they are ready to offer training and inductions at the time of asking, or are expected to be in the near future. In addition, 54% were confident that new starters would be able to commence working remotely, with a further 16% still investigating whether this was possible at the time of asking. Only 7% of organisations stated that they would not be able to do this for some roles.

For those of you who may already have an offer that is due to start in the coming months, it seems that organisations are trying to adapt to conduct inductions online. We’ve seen that some organisations are eager to keep in touch with future new starters through newsletters and establishing online communities. If you have someone within the organisation with whom you could contact, you could reach out to them to seek re-assurance about your position, however it does seem that organisations are still working out these logistics for new starters and therefore they may not be able to offer clarity at this stage.

UCL Careers will continue to carry out research with our existing employers and will keep abreast of the latest findings in the graduate employment sector. Further blogs will follow summarising this information as well as other useful tips on how to manage your career thinking and planning during these challenging times.

Book an appointment

Do remember that we continue to offer one to one appointments online where you can speak with one of our career professionals to discuss your own personal circumstances.

*The main sources of information provided in this post come from an Institute of Student Employers (ISE), an independent not-for-profit association of UK employers who represent a high proportion of top graduate recruiters nationally. They conducted a survey 13th – 20th March, which received 124 responses from large employers who would be major graduate recruiters. UCL Careers carried out their own survey, reaching out to employers who had made use of our jobs board within the last calendar year. This survey was conducted 25th March – 1st April and received responses from 76 employers, the majority of whom were based in the UK. 66% of organisations surveyed were small to medium size enterprises (SMEs), offering the perspective of different employers to those surveyed in the ISE questionnaire.

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