Students are applying for more jobs at an earlier stage in an attempt to secure work in what they see as a tough employment market, research suggests.

More than two-fifths of students applied for jobs almost a year before leaving university.

A study of 17,737 final year students found that 42% began applying for positions in September or October last year.

By March this year, 61% had made graduate job applications.

Students made an average of 6.9 applications each, up from 6.8 last year, the UK Graduate Careers Survey 2012 found.

To avoid disappointment in the job market, graduates have become less inclined to take gap years or go travelling, according to the study by High Fliers Research.

Only 12% of final year students said they were planning to take time off before seeking employment.
Martin Birchall, managing director of High Fliers Research, said: "Our latest research shows just how hard today's university students are working to get a graduate job at the end of their degree.

"The proportion of final year students planning to take time off or go travelling after their studies is at an all-time low and record numbers of students are now opting to research their career options in their first or second year at university, rather than leaving job hunting until the final six months before graduation."

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