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A candidates’ job market: why there’s more choice for graduates

After experiencing dramatic job losses at the beginning of the pandemic, the Australian economy has rebounded strongly – so strongly, in fact, that job seekers are suddenly finding themselves in high demand. Unemployment has fallen to a near 50-year low, and job ads are the highest on record in SEEK’s 25-year history.

For graduates, it’s very good news. There’s the potential for more choice in where you work, how much you earn and your working conditions. Not to mention more opportunity to land a job straight after graduation.

‘This situation of low unemployment is likely to continue until at least 2024,’ says Dr John Molineux from Deakin’s Faculty of Business and Law. ‘As projections go, look at the next couple of years as being a good job market for graduates.’

Keen to make the most of it? Here’s how to use a plentiful jobs market to kickstart your career.

Unpacking current job market conditions

Why is unemployment so low and why are jobs so plentiful? It’s a highly unusual situation that’s best explained as a supply-demand imbalance. There’s huge demand for workers as the economy undergoes a dramatic recovery after the loosening of pandemic-related restrictions. Yet two years of closed borders and general inactivity have resulted in skills shortages as workers are in short supply.

For job seekers, the employers’ market of the past decade has been replaced by a strong candidates’ market, Dr Molineux says. ‘There are more jobs being advertised now than there are people looking for jobs. If you’re a potential employee, there’s more opportunity to sell your expertise to the highest bidder.’

He says opportunities are especially plentiful in healthcare and social assistance – in careers like nursing, aged care and allied health – as well as support roles in these fields. ‘Finance people are needed in that sector – people who are at the front desk, people who are in HR. People are needed across the whole industry,’ Dr Molineux says.

Other industries short of workers include law, finance, IT, marketing, engineering and education. ‘There are vacancies everywhere,’ Dr Molineux says.

Landing your dream job sooner

Graduate and early-career jobs are plentiful, Dr Molineux says, and the current market conditions mean you can be more particular about the jobs you apply for and the organisations you approach about work.

You might target dream organisations right away instead of planning to work for companies that are less of a values match for a few years. ‘You can get into a company you’re really keen on more quickly, then work your way up,’ Dr Molineux says.

Or, he says, depending on your field you might spend less time in entry-level roles or bypass them altogether. ‘If you’ve got your pathway sorted out, you can fast track it by perhaps stepping up beyond the entry level into a role that you can develop quickly.’

And you can rest assured that the candidates’ market gives you more opportunity to simply get a foot in the door of employment. ‘People are desperate for employees, even if you’re starting at the bottom,’ Dr Molineux says. ‘As many jobs are filled internally, you’re in a good position to get promoted and enjoy further opportunities.’

Leveraging your opportunities

It’s easy to get carried away when there are lots of great career opportunities, but Dr Molineux says tried-and-true graduate job search strategies are as relevant as ever. ‘Ask where you want to be in the future, set out that vision and goal, and then work backwards from that goal when you’re making decisions about graduate jobs.’

Likewise, he says, even though there might be more opportunities with big, well-known corporates, your dream job might turn out to be with an organisation you’re unfamiliar with.

‘Lots of people are going to apply to all of the big companies because their names are known,’ Dr Molineux says. ‘It’s worth tracking down and finding out more about some smaller or new organisations and seeing whether they might be a good fit for you.’

Ultimately, he says, it’s important to understand employers still have the final say. ‘If you don’t yet have the experience, you’re unlikely to get your dream job.

‘It’s still very much in the hands of employers and what they’re looking for. Often, they’ll keep jobs vacant until they find someone who really fits the job.’

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Dr John Molineux
Dr John Molineux

Senior Lecturer,

Faculty of Business and Law,

Deakin University

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