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Networking and work experience are best ways into graduate employment, according to University of Lincoln

Research published today by the University of Lincoln reveals that work experience and networking are the most effective strategies for graduating university students to use to secure employment.

Many university students set to graduate in 2011 have already secured employment and almost a quarter (23%) of them secured their position through an internship or work experience. Increasingly, graduates need to demonstrate their skills in the real working environment before being offered fulltime contracts as firms 'try before they buy.'

Networking and alumni networks are vitally important for graduates seeking employment. One-in-seven (15%) graduates that have already secured employment after leaving university this year used a network of family and friends to secure their position. In addition, universities are increasingly sourcing positions for students, often via alumni networks, as 13% of graduates secured their job via this route. Social media is now as important as the job centre for students seeking employment. The same number of employed graduates secured their position through social media channels, such as Twitter and LinkedIn, as secured employment through a job centre. Over a quarter (28%) of those graduating from university in 2011 decided to postpone entering the workforce and investigating postgraduate study. More than one-in-ten (13%) of graduates have decided to go travelling upon graduation rather than enter the workforce immediately.

"Elly Sample, a director at University of Lincoln and chair of the Association of Business Schools' Alumni Group, said: "Graduates are increasingly being asked to demonstrate their skills in a 'real' working environment before being offered fulltime positions. At Lincoln we work hard to ensure students are equipped with the skills they need to deliver real value for their employers from day one. This strategy resulted in 93% of graduates from the University of Lincoln at the end of the 2009/10 academic year being in employment or further study six months later. "The results place the University of Lincoln above the national university sector averages of 90% (employment or further study) and 64% graduate level employment.

Universities have an obligation to ensure students improve not only academically, but also that they develop the transferable skills that are vital in the workplace. With increased competition in the job market it is vital that students embrace all aspects of university life, building a range of transferable skills to support their academic endeavours. We see students who have taken the time to complete dedicated work experience, or internships, in their chosen field boosting their employability considerably. Universities, such as Lincoln, have taken the lead in ensuring graduates understand the importance of work-based learning via internships and work experience to support their studies. In a competitive job market graduates need to find ways to differentiate themselves from their peers, demonstrating how they can add real value to the organisations they join."

OpinionPanel carried out a poll in July 2011 amongst a representative sample of 513 students graduating university in 2011.