If you’re graduating from university in 2012 and heading out onto the rolling ocean of the UK job market then you may well want to take a lifebelt.

New figures show that this year’s university leavers will not only be competing against their peers, but also graduates from the year before.

The High Fliers’ study shows that the one in three applicants for the average graduate job today come from the 2011 university output.

With the average graduate vacancy receiving 48 responses and 50,000 more graduates than five years ago there is some stiff competition out there, so how do you get the position you want?

Plan Ahead

You may not know exactly what job you want to do when you leave university, but you’ll probably have an idea of the kind of work you enjoy doing, and it may not necessarily be anything related to your degree.

More than 50 per cent of employers said that graduates would have little or no chance of getting a job without experience, but don’t let this scare you; recruiters won’t be looking for you to have done the exact job they’re offering, they will be looking for experience that includes some of the skill set necessary to do the work.

With this in mind use your university time to develop the extra-curricular skills you think will benefit you most in working life. Join a debating team, work on the university magazine or even set up your own virtual stock market, focus on practical skills that you enjoy.

Network

The old axiom that ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ still stands true today in some industries. You will meet lots of different and interesting people at university, both peers and members of the academic body, many of whom will have connections to industries in the wider world.

We’re not saying be friends with somebody just because their daddy’s a banker, just use the opportunity of being around people who know about the jobs you want to do to gather as much information as possible. This can often lead to summer internships or information about forthcoming job opportunities, and even if you get into your chosen industry by another method you will already have contacts to help you network and move up.

The graduate job market may be crowded, but with a bit of planning and enthusiasm you can quickly put yourself ahead of the pack and achieve the career you want.