The life of a qualitative researcher is hard, varied and a case of ‘onwards and upwards’. But that doesn’t solve the problem of how to get into the industry in the first place.

It’s a problem that AQR’s new researchers sub-committee has been wrestling with for some time. In a way, because of its sterling work in promoting qualitative research at universities over the past couple of years, it may even have compounded it. Happily, help is at hand.

The current situation? Well, there are more and more graduates keen to get their foot on the ladder, yet fewer jobs available in the industry. Recruitment consultants, meanwhile, often don’t handle jobs at this level, while Rose receives numerous general requests from graduates for more guidance.

Several have said they’ve found it really tricky to work out who to apply to. Most scour the AQR site, but it’s often unclear, especially with smaller agencies, who does/doesn’t take on graduates and exactly what their specialities are.

Following discussions between the sub-committee and Rose, a recent email was sent to members inviting companies to appear on a list of graduate recruiters. The response has been very encouraging (if you haven’t replied and want to join the list, it’s not too late to drop Rose a quick line telling her so).

At present we’ve just asked for contact details, but in the future we’re going to ask for a short blurb on what type of vacancies companies can offer (i.e. placements; full-time employment; work experience, etc.) as well as more specific information such as whether there are any special requirements for graduate recruits, who to contact, etc.

The quest for a list of companies prepared or even keen to recruit graduates started after various AQR debates on the topic. Committee members reported that lack of information results in a lot of speculative applications and, as a consequence, numerous companies get bombarded with applications for jobs that don’t exist ­ a waste of everyone’s time, really.

An AQR graduate pack has been in existence for several years. This, however, is now being updated and there are plans to include the new company list with it. Graduates currently contact Rose for information, and are then sent the pack. There are even discussions under way about a ‘new researchers page’ on the AQR web site, which could feature both items.

Sadly, at an overall level (or at least for the foreseeable future), there are always likely to be too many applicants for too few jobs in research although as committee member Charlotte Burke says: "I think the best candidates do rise to the top and most people probably get into the right kind of area eventually. Where I do think it might make a difference is in cutting down time-wastage for all concerned: graduates, graduate and non-graduate recruiters. I also hope it will ensure that the right people get to the right places sooner rather than later."

The initiative is also indicative of the AQR’s ongoing commitment to new researchers, which the committee is keen to reinforce.