A third of graduates forced to claim Jobseekers Allowance, reports Totaljobs

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More than a third of UK graduates have been searching for work for over six months, forcing the same percentage to claim Jobseekers Allowance, according to recruitment website Totaljobs.

Almost two fifths (16%) of graduates have applied for more than 100 jobs, without success, with one quarter not managing to secure a single interview.

The difficulty in finding work has led to a significantly lower wage expectations compared to those currently at university. Graduate jobseekers expect to earn £19,800 a year, compared to those yet to leave university who expect over £800 a year more.

But the regular survey of graduate jobseekers has shown some improvement in the last six months.

There has been a 5% drop in graduates that have been looking for work for over a year and confidence has also improved as a result. In November 2011, 19% of graduate jobseekers said that they were not at all confident of finding work in the next year. Six months later, the figure is 10%. Confidence in finding work in the next six months has remained stable.

Mike Fetters, graduate director at Totaljobs, said: "Overall, the picture for graduates is tough, but there are signs of improvement; we are seeing some growth in the number of job available. This is little comfort, however, for those that took the advice of successive governments and invested in their education only to find themselves forced through necessity to claim the dole and fail to be invited to a single interview."

The research also indicated that whilst graduates felt that university had been worthwhile, they said it was not as important for employers as experience. 41% of the graduates polled said that they regarded six months work experience as being the most important consideration for those taking on entry level staff, compared to only 9% who said it was having a 2:1 degree or higher and only 5% who said it was the reputation of the university a candidate attended.

Mike Fetters has some advice for jobseekers: "With graduates recognising the importance of experience yet unable to get their foot through the door, it can seem like a vicious cycle. But there are some things graduates can do. The first is to maximise the power of your network and keep in touch with classmates, they might hear of an opportunity that you can take advantage of. If you're able, get some work experience or charity work so that you can fill gaps in your CV and finally don't be tempted to apply for all and every job. Think about what you want to do and tailor your CV and covering letter accordingly. Make every application count and understand how to stand out from your competition."

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