Students are not acquiring the skills or focus necessary to secure good jobs after graduation, research reveals.
A study by Lewis PR, based on more than 1,000 applications for trainee positions, highlights problems with presentation, lack of research and an ignorance of the media.
The company's third annual graduate review also reveals the majority of applications contain spelling mistakes, are addressed to the wrong person or refer to the wrong job.
Toni Castle, HR director at Lewis, said: "Of the 80 applications we received this week, only six were worth following up by phone.
“A Swedish applicant demonstrated a better understanding of the UK media than his UK counterparts by knowing facts such as the differences in readership of the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph."
"On this evidence, students are needlessly acquiring debt at university. They’re simply not acquiring the skills worthy of a job that will enable them to pay off their loans," she concluded. "In many ways, the best educated people in the country are also the greenest when they leave higher education. It's certainly an area where universities must do better."
The record for the worst application contained 17 spelling mistakes in the covering letter. An incredible 90 per cent of applicants disqualify themselves before the end of the first page.
In an effort to gain attention, many applicants go completely over the top. One wrote: "I exist! I live! Seize me!" Another burnt the edges of their CV, saying: "As you can see from the singe marks on my application, I’m red hot."
Even if they pass the CV stage, another recurring problem among candidates is lack of interview preparation. Many have done little or no research into the company before attending.