Press Releases: One in five students start graduate job search before final year

Press Releases January 2013

More than four times as many students start searching for a career before their graduation year than they did ten years ago.

More than four times as many students start searching for a career before their graduation year than they did ten years ago. New data from, the largest independent graduate job board in the UK, shows that in 2002 just one in twenty students (5 per cent) were eager enough to kick off their career hunt before their final year of university, a stark contrast to the one in five (22 per cent) who do so today.

The data also shows that over the last ten years more female students than male take the initiative to start looking for a post-graduation job early on in their degree.

Listed below are the top ten Universities for students starting their careers earlier than their final year.

UniversityStudents Starting Career Search Before Final Year (%)
University of Sussex56
University of Leicester56
Lancaster University52
University of York51
University of Manchester48
Bournemouth University47
City University45
University of Brighton44
University of Exeter43
University of Newcastle42

Currently students at universities in the South East of England demonstrate the greatest level of career conscientiousness, with nearly 3 out of 10 students (29 per cent) starting their search for graduate jobs before their final year. They are followed by students at academic institutions in Yorkshire and Humberside and the North West where one in four students (25 per cent) registered with in their early years of university. The data suggests that students at Welsh and Scottish universities were the least keen to find a career, just 13 per cent starting before their graduation year.

RankUniversity LocationStudents Starting Career Search Before Final Year (%)
1South East29
2North West25
2Yorkshire and Humberside25
2South West25
3North East24
3West Midlands24
4East Midlands23
6Northern Ireland17
7Scotland13 is a resource for career-minded university students. The site helps graduates to identify their key skills, enrich their CVs, polish their interview technique and get advice from fellow graduates during their job hunt via an online forum. As well as students still at university, 335,000 graduates are active on, providing recruiters with cost-effective access to a massive number of high quality graduates.

The job board helps to match high quality candidates to graduate schemes within small, medium and large organisations across a range of industries. It empowers recruiters to specifically target relevant roles to relevant graduates, as well as graduates to search for the positions that they truly want and that are best suited to them.

This new research illustrates that students are becoming more career-minded much earlier in their time at university. Whilst one might put that down to the current economic climate, that's not borne out by the stats: in 2006 we saw a hike in students beginning their career search early on in their degree, where the numbers of pre-graduation year students registering with doubled. That was two years before the 2008 credit crunch. The upward trend we have seen in students registering with our specialist graduate recruitment job board over the last ten years demonstrates an ever greater sense of drive to succeed in the workplace amongst students.

City University London's Director of Careers, Gary Argent, said, "We have seen high levels of engagement from first year students here at City University London this year. Many of the employers who visited us commented on the number of first years they met at our careers events in the first few weeks of term, noting in particular that they were well prepared for their engagements, and a quarter of our careers guidance appointment slots in the first two months of this academic year were taken by first year students. I think this shows that students are increasingly understanding the importance of engaging with the employability agenda early in their time at University, and I am really pleased to see how proactive our students have been as they look for opportunities to develop the skills that we know employers look for."