83 graduates fighting for each job
University leavers are facing record levels of competition for jobs, with more than 80 fighting for every position, research suggests.
Employers are now receiving 83 applications on average for each job - almost double the numbers of two years ago (49), and nearly treble compared to three years ago (31), the bi-annual Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) survey has found.
Candidates leaving university without at least a 2:1 are likely to miss out, as almost three quarters of firms say this is a minimum requirement.
The survey, which questioned around 200 member firms, show that the numbers of graduate vacancies are predicted to increase by 2.6% this year (for 2010/11) compared to year-end figures for 2009/10. Two thirds (66.7%) of firms said they are confident that they will fill all of their vacancies this year.
The most job openings are in accountancy or professional services, offering a fifth (20.6%) of predicted vacancies. A tenth (9.9%) of firms said they have received more than 150 applications for every job.
And one in eight (12.1%) are receiving between 101 and 150 applications per job, up from one in 10 (10.5%) of employers who said the same thing last year.
The survey revealed differences between job sectors in applications.
Investment banks and fund managers received an average of 232.5 applications for every opening, while for energy, water and utilities companies it was 187.8 applications. A fifth (20.2%) of companies said they are now using online exercises to screen candidates, while just under half (45%) conduct preliminary screenings by telephone.
More than a quarter (26.4%) of employers said the quality of the applications they are receiving is higher than it was last year. The poll also asked about graduate salaries, and found that the average starting salary has increased slightly to £25,500 - the first rise since 2008.
AGR chief executive Carl Gilleard said: "I am cautiously optimistic about today's findings, which provides a welcome indication that the graduate recruitment market is beginning to overcome the impact of the recession."