From education to employment

New research into students/graduates’ career decisions

Women working on computer
  • Eight in 10 graduates would not use GenAI in the recruitment process if told not to
  • More than half of those surveyed want to work in the office four to five days a week
  • Discrepancy between what employers think are the most valued skills and students’ focus on industry experience
  • Half of those surveyed think their background has hindered their job or study applications
  • 89% worry about the effect the economic climate will have on job prospects

Bright Network, which connects graduates and young professionals with recruiters in global companies, has released findings from its latest research into current students and recent graduates’ career decisions.

The research reveals the discrepancy in the perceived importance of existing industry experience. Students think employers value experience, such as that gained from internships and work placements, as the most important. However, employers value passion for the business (first) and resilience (second) – such as taking constructive feedback and adapting to set backs. 

To help with this, Bright Network advises recruiters to signpost what resilience means in their organisation, offer guidance on the website, and build focussed resilience training into the onboarding processes. It also suggests recruiters clearly communicate that students don’t need industry experience to apply to roles.

The research also reveals that 38% of students have used GenAI in their job applications, with the primary reasons being to enhance wording (75%) and improve time efficiency during the application process (75%).  However, despite its adoption, eight in ten graduates (79%) said that they would not use GenAI in the recruitment process if they were explicitly instructed not to do so. Yet, the survey found that 53% of employers lack clear guidelines regarding the use of the technology in the recruitment process.

James Uffindell, Bright Network, advises:

“GenAI is already here and we can use it to help create a more diverse and inclusive process – for example, it can be a great tool for neurodiverse students, helping level the playing field when it comes to application processes. Taking a vague stance or not allowing it will lead to an adverse effect on diverse groups, who may end up being disproportionately penalised because of their higher usage rates. Instead, employers can support students and applicants on the correct use of GenAI by providing guidance on how it can used as a helpful tool, such as structuring and proofing CVs, advice on how to prepare for the different assessment stages and to support with refining and articulating their own ideas for an interview.”

Other key research highlights include:

  • Location preference – despite the rise of remote work, 94% of students want to work in the office for at least two days a week, and more than half (52%) of respondents prefer to work in the office four to five days a week. The main reasons cited include the opportunity to learn from others (80%), build networks (76%), and engage in social activities (53%).
  • Fewer graduates want to work in London, dropping from 52% (2023) to 46%.  In fact, two in ten (21%) don’t mind where they work at all
  • The primary reason for choosing a specific region, other than London, to work in was to be near family or where the students grew up, followed closely by staying near their university region and a reduced cost of living 
  • Economic climate: 89% of students are worried that the current economic climate will have an impact on their job prospects
  • Sustainability: This is an important consideration for students with 92% saying that it is important that employers have or are working toward net zero status

The research also revealed that half of students surveyed believe their background hinders them in job and study applications, with ethnicity (61%) and socioeconomic background (45%) cited as the main reasons. Furthermore, banking & finance, followed by technology, were seen as the least diverse and inclusive sectors, yet were the top two sectors that students wanted to work in.

Bright Network’s mission is to ensure equal access to opportunities and support all graduates, from all backgrounds, in their career development. Using its proprietary AI data platform, Bright Network matches talent with job opportunities, facilitating connections that might not have otherwise been possible.

James Uffindell from Bright Network says:

“We know that advances in technology, economical and geographical considerations, and differing perspectives for both employers and students can create challenges in the recruitment process.  We exist to connect the next generation with equal access to the opportunities, insights & advice they need to thrive as the workforce of tomorrow.  We also offer advice to both employers and students on how to navigate the recruitment process and how to embrace current technologies, to ensure a diverse and inclusive workforce.”

Related Articles