Has the Grad job market improved in the last 12 months?


In autumn/winter 2008 the accountancy profession saw a big increase in graduate applications as graduates decided it was the safer option than IB. Competition for places was noticeably tougher than for the same period in 2007.
Does anyone have any views as to whether “things are picking up” in the grad job market?
1.What is the average time from initial application until job offer?
2. Have application procedures changed/become harder?


In the experience I’ve had, starting the process last September for 2009 intake and finally getting a job offer just a few weeks ago to start in Jan 2010, I’d say the processes have got more difficult and competition is definetly tougher.


Recognition for strong qualifications is definetly there, and this year I have seen a massive improvement in recruitment people recognising personality etc


Did you get the first job you applied for or was it more of a learning curve, using the first one or two to learn your mistakes at application etc?
Have the application processes changed do you think? I get the impression that each year they add another question or test in the process.


I know for London roles the competition has definitely increased. At the same time I’ve heard that firms have unofficially raised the selection criteria. So more people applying to companies that have raised the bar. All in all pretty tough this year.

I heard someone say that for PwC for instance they are expecting 56000 applications for 1000 vacancies. I think that’s a bit exaggerated. Last year they received 25000 apps for 1000 places, and the year before that it was around 15000. So 56000 is a definitely too high to be true, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was 30000-35000 apps this year.


Sorry, just realised, having re-read your above comment that it took you 16 months to get an offer?
So, clearly not your first application.
Well yes, I agree that is an indication of the current difficulties for grads. In July and August 2008 just before Lehmans and the banks collapsing I know of grads applying and being offered in about a 4 week turnaround.
Yet I also know of situations where firms had not made their recruitment targets and so, some late applicants in August this year were “processed” in two weeks and offered to start at the beginning of Sept.
Mixed messages, I guess.


Accenture have raised A level grades required. Have the accountancy firms?
TBH I think the current B (or even C in some firms) at GCSE Maths and English is outrageous. You can get an A in Maths GCSE with 50% at the exam.
You need a good command of the Englsh language to communicate effectively in a professional environment and I would suggest that C at English GCSE falls short of the mark on that count.


Sorry to be pedantic, the09, but press reports quote 12,000 for 1,000 places in PwC for 2009.
Even that is pretty steep!!
For 2010, yes it will be even higher. Don’t you feel so relieved that you’ve got an offer?
The whole grad job thing is very depressing and even more depressing is the reduction in university places for 2010/2011.
Some school leavers with fantastic A level grades didn’t get a uni place to start this year and could be faced with another year of rejection.
This leads on to the suggestion that perhaps more school leavers should consider the A level route into accountancy


Things are still bad

Next year when the govt. starts paying back debts after the election and the public sector suffers job losses - things will probably get worse :frowning:


GradJobHunter, you have a job?


tutor I got the 20000 applications figure from a PwC graduate recruitment person that I talked to around May.
All of the Big Four have tightened their entry requirements.
Deloitte you need at least four weeks work experience in an office environment and I think at least one position of responsibility, KPMG now want As in GCSE English and Maths, PwC added a written exercise to the assessment centre, EY went for this weird ‘strengths’ based thing instead of competencies and they seem to be rejecting people left right and centre at application form.

Pretty glad I have an offer, dunno what I would have done if I didn’t manage to get one because I’ve already graduated and really not interested in the idea of a Masters…


enough with the job hunt!! I am taking a break… its holiday time!!!

I am off to NY!!!


The09, thanks and I stand corrected. The stats for applications are frightening.
The trouble is everyone has a 2.1 and so many people have 3 As at A level, how do they diiferentiate.?
I do know from an HR friend that some consultancy firms are only selecting “top” university applications. I don’t know if this has filtered down to accountancy firms yet. The definition of “top” is not one I intend to discuss. Far too emotive.
I think everyone who has secured a training place has done really well.
Enjoy Xmas.


@the09: I had no idea that for Deloitte you need 4-week work experience in an office…are you sure about that?


i think all the big firms are still recruiting as many as they did before, but there are several other factors that are in play now. all the 08 & 09 grads who didn’t get a job in their graduation years are obviously applying as well so 2010 grads are facing greater compeititon (potentially from those with more office experience or more experience in general). in terms of the requirements of degrees and A levels, I think the main way they assess applicants is actually through the online assessments. all they need to do is look at the average test score from last year and alter it to how they see fit. obviously people need to make the min requirements as well (2.1 undergrad degree and As & Bs at A Level).

For those of you applying for 2010 graduation positions at the big 4, i would suggest actually branching out and perhaps looking at firms who are next on the list so Grant Thornton, BDO, Baker Tilly etc. I dont know much about the big consulting firms but if these are the areas you really want to go into, some might find it easier (less scary??) to apply to the non top firms? chances are you will be studying for the same qualifications anyway and be exposed to similar work environments / experience. once you complete the 2/3 year training contract, you’ll be well into the job market anyway with tonnes of experience and it’ll be a better economic climate as well so it’ll only go up from there.

the number of people who have actually been sacked after the first stage of professional qualification exams in 2009 has increased as well… so perhaps they are actually trying to guague different strengths which are directly related to accountancy now?

(sorry to butt in)


No, you didn’t butt in. Some interesting comments. Undoubtedly it’s very tough to get the job now. Then when you get the job you go straight into exams under threat of losing the job that you worked so hard to get!
I am ACA qualified but interested to see the changes in grad recruitment to my profession even in the last 4-5 years.
The biggest culture shock is the change in the ACA exam system (in 2007) with the intro of the knowledge papers. These papers are becoming increasingly self taught as this saves training costs, obviously. 4-5 years ago you joined, settled in, got stuck into audits then sat usually 2 written papers after you’d been there for 3 months. Now you’re straight into 3 E-assessment knowledge papers and to self study double entry book-keeping if your degree is in Biology or whatever is a shock to the system. Frankly a lot of new trainees almost go into meltdown. Then they get used to the pressure!!
However, as you say, most firms are maintaining their recruiting levels. With a 3 year training cycle they need to.


@tutor…i totally disagree with raising the GCSE entry requirements, why jugde a candidate on something he/she has done when they are 16? well over 5 yrs ago. if anything they should put more emphasis on A-levels or possibly ask you what type of 2.1 you have above 65% or less? These measures would be a much better way of measuring a candidates ability.

I also disagree with the fact that if you achieved a C grade in English at GCSE’s you cannot handle the ACA qualification. I got a C grade in English at GCSE’s but got an A grade in A-level economics…

Besides many of the partners of directors at these firms probably don’t have A grades in English and I know a few personally.


partners or directors^^^^


Most companies ask for all your university marks or transcripts so they are getting a very complete picture of your academic profile overall.
One problem that firms must consider is the variation in standard of degrees between different universities. Again, we turn to national standards and so utilize the GCSE and the A level results.
Hence you may have a first in your degree but may be rejected because your A level results were not good enough.
Sadly with so many applications HR depts will not spend much time looking or listening to the exceptional personal circumstances as they have far too many applications to plough through. If you can get personal contact or dialogue with HR you may be able to convince them of the error of their ways.
You mention that you know a few partners personally. Use these connections if you possibly can and see if they can assist in any way.


Absolutely agree the whole system is up for debate but how the hell do you start to differentiate when thousands get A grades today?
Well, on your basis why bother using any measurables? The GCSE is a measure of intellect set for that age group so arguably it is how you have performed relative to your peer group of that time.
There are only so many ways you can compare candidates and for that reason a national standard is, arguably the best fit for now.
Other candidates were also only 15 or 16 yet achieved A grade and then also went on to gain A grades at A Level economics.
The directors and partners will be on average in their mid thirties so the grades that they achieved at GCSE are most probably not comparable on the basis of grade inflation arguments etc and what % of candidates achieved A grade in their days.


“GradJobHunter, you have a job?”

No unfortunately :frowning:

“the number of people who have actually been sacked after the first stage of professional qualification exams in 2009 has increased as well” In bigger firms yes as they have so much choice - in smaller firms not so much as they don’t want the expense of replacing them

“Frankly a lot of new trainees almost go into meltdown.” Indeed the accounting course week is known as crying week!!

Also if from past experience a recruiter knows that only 50% of people will get through the ACA anyway - maybe they will only hire 65% of people who they think can get through it - and for the others just hire people who won’t get through but will work hard for the first 12/18 months. The truth of the matter is that accountancy trainees are cheap labour for firms. They claim the wages difference is due to the cost of the qualification but even after taking that into account they are still underpaying you compared to what they charge clients for your work. Also because of the number of trainees big4 probably get a big discount from training providers so it is cheaper per person than an independent student/student from a small firm.

Also one of the things they claim to look for is ‘knowledge of the qualification’ however if you look at the people on courses at training providers quite a lot of them don’t know much about the qualification as a whole. I am not saying that this is true for everyone but there is definately a significant number of people who fall into this camp.