IT employers are increasingly optimistic about the number of graduates they expect to take on in the next year, but they're making selection procedures more rigorous than ever before.
But for successful graduates, the financial rewards and career opportunities are greater than ever, says the report, Graduate Recruitment Trends, published today by graduate careers publisher GTI.
Since 2000 the average number of graduate vacancies has increased by 100 per cent to counteract continuing skills shortages, but employers are being all the more choosy about the calibre of candidates they take on as they seek to maintain the quality of applications.
Only one in nine graduate applicants succeeded in getting an interview for an IT vacancy in 2001, compared with a one in seven chance in 2000.
And more than three quarters of IT sector employers now use online applications to filter graduates, compared with 45 per cent in 2000.
"The message for employers is that if they haven't already done so, they need to invest in more sophisticated recruitment methods. Graduates will respond badly to companies they see as being in the dark ages," said GTI publisher Chris Phillips.
Employers are also more likely to expect graduate job seekers to demonstrate essential skills during their job interviews.
The number of graduate employers who use group exercises has doubled to 64 per cent since 2000. Fifty six per cent ask candidates to give presentations to an interview panel, up more than 20 per cent from 2000.
The average starting salary in IT has risen by nearly £1800 to over £20,500. And in addition to rising salaries, IT employers are offering a raft of extra financial benefits to attract the crŠme de la crŠme of applicants. One in six employers today offers an annual bonus.
Share options and golden hellos, previously shunned by the IT sector for graduate starters, are now offered by 34 per cent and 16 per cent respectively in 2002. And 17 per cent of employers will pay overtime, compared to a flat zero in 2000.
"Companies are putting stringent selection procedures into place so that they are not flooded with inappropriate applications and only the best graduates are offered jobs," said Phillips.
"Even in an industry that is laying people off, companies still feel the need to recruit at the entry level. It's encouraging for graduates that companies aren't turning the recruitment tap off."
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