Far from heading straight to parties and pubs, over a third of the UK’s most recent graduates kick-started their career the moment they set foot on campus. The results are according to a survey conducted by the .uk domain, which is encouraging young people to get online and get ahead.

The study of over 1,000 UK graduates with Bachelor level degrees or higher reveals that, during their studies, students spent on average four hours a week on activities to boost their employability – the equivalent of 208 hours a year. Eight percent dedicated more than ten hours a week to improving their attractiveness to employers. Over a quarter attended networking events to build up their little black book of contacts, and 24 percent gathered tips from successful businessmen and women at conferences and industry events. In fact, more than one in ten keen career planners set up their own business while studying.

Economic pressures are behind the priority shift. Recent fee rises and the loss of maintenance grants is prompting nearly a third of university-goers to take their time at university more seriously. Over half are spurred on by a need to stand out in an increasingly competitive job market with leading employers receiving 39 applications for every graduate job.

To stand out from the crowd, job-hunting graduates are using their digital skills to shout about their skills and accomplishments. Creating an online home is now a popular way to illustrate a graduate’s experience, with a quarter creating a personal website and a third using their LinkedIn profile to bag the job they want.

This fresh approach to landing their dream career is also a hit with those in charge of hiring new recruits. Almost two-thirds of HR decision makers from UK businesses think that a personal website, rather than the traditional paper CV could become the main way they differentiate between job candidates in the next five years.

Russell Haworth, CEO of Nominet, which runs the .uk domain commented:

The student experience has changed. Not only is university more expensive, but the job market is highly competitive. It’s not enough to tell a future employer why you should get the job – you’ve got to show them.

 “Today’s students are taking control of their online identity by setting up websites to set them apart from the competition and creatively showcase to prospective employers their different skills and passions – from amateur photography, to club promotion, through to tutoring. Young people naturally share their experiences on social media sites like Instagram and Snapchat, now they’re applying that practice to the world of work.”