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Graduate salaries: What's changed?

Posted over 3 years ago by Julia Williams

The availability of graduate and entry-level roles took a reported 12% dip during 2020, and though the job market is gradually improving, we are seeing more companies looking to take on experienced and senior level talent rather than junior or graduate level employees.

However, despite the decline in demand for junior level skills, we’re starting to see a trend in the market for graduates seeking higher salaries than pre-pandemic.

What we are seeing

Salaries are always variable depending on role and location, making it difficult to provide a broad picture of what we are seeing, however to provide an example …

According to our salary survey, between 2019-2020 the typical starting salary for an entry-level Marketing Executive based in the Midlands averaged out at around £18,000 - £20,000. Moving to 2021, we are seeing more graduates expecting to start with a salary ranging from £20,000 - £22,000 or more.

Though just a snapshot of the market, this is part of a broader trend which we will likely see more of over the coming months as the 2021 graduates enter the job market.

Our thoughts

We recognise that salaries change over time in line with various factors like cost of living, inflation and minimum/living wage increases, however many employees over the past 12 months have seen wage freezes as the impact of the pandemic hit.

With this there appears to be a lack of congruency between what is happening in the market and some graduate expectations, which may be contributing towards some finding it difficult to source that entry/graduate level role.

For instance, requesting a £21,000+ salary when you don’t have any relevant market experience, may be a sticking point with some employers, where they may be more likely to select a graduate willing to accept a lower salary to offset training and development investments.

However, this is not to diminish the achievements of graduates and there are some instances where requesting a higher salary may be appropriate, such as;

  • Holding market experience for instance through internships or a placement year.

  • Transferring from a different industry with similar skills.

  • Having more higher level qualifications such as a postgraduate or masters degree and industry relevant qualifications.

  • If you are looking to relocate and require a living wage.

If you are a recent graduate, we advise you take your skills and requirements into consideration before requesting a specific salary level, taking into account the long term opportunities and rewards a business may be able to offer. If you are unsure as to what the industry standards look like in different regions of the UK, you can download our salary surveys for free.

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