Trends in graduate recruitment in retail and sales

Discover the latest employment trends in this diverse and growing sector

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You can expect to find plenty of excellent graduate opportunities in retail and sales. This sector accounts for 17% of graduate positions according to the gradireland Graduate Salary & Graduate Recruitment Trends Survey. This research also indicates that average graduate salaries in this sector stand at €33,925.

Due to the many and varied functions of positions within sales and retail companies, graduates are recruited from a range of disciplines. While all employers surveyed said they hired commerce and business studies graduates, graduates in subjects as diverse as arts and humanities, engineering, and food science and technology have been brought on board.

Employers also expressed a willingness to hire across degree levels from those with level 7 ordinary degrees to postgraduates.

Relevant work experience

In terms of hiring criteria, having relevant work experience is seen as most important. Even if a degree programme doesn’t offer formal work placements, students need to gain some type of relevant work experience in order to move into graduate jobs after college.

Employers said a relevant degree and strong academic results were also important, while they further highlighted that potential employees must prove their strong employability skills. The onus is on the student to prove these skills during work placements and through their involvement in extracurricular activities, such as college societies.

Teamwork is the most important skill according to employers. “No matter what the role, in the end it is all about dealing with people”, said one leading employer.

AHECS research shows that 80% of employers also value having a positive attitude, encouraging students to ask questions and engage in activities during their studies. They advised students to work on self-management and project management skills, which are generally lacking in graduates.

Knowledge of a foreign language is considered an asset in the sales and retail sector. Trends suggest that this is becoming more important especially for employers with global bases and international clients.

Strong IT skills, especially in Excel and PowerPoint are an advantage with many employers pointing out that these skills are not sufficiently taught in universities. Furthermore, even a basic knowledge of current affairs and their impact on business is an advantage.

In terms of other recommendations, employers said graduates should learn how to sell themselves when writing an application.

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