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Anticipatory socialization and the construction of the employable graduate: A critical analysis of employers’ graduate careers websites

A discourse of employability saturates the higher education sector in the UK. Government and employers call on universities to produce employable graduates who are attractive to the labour market and can sustain their future marketability by taking responsibility for protean self-development. While the neoliberal assumptions behind this call have attracted robust critique, the extent to which employers shape graduating students’ subjectivities and sense of worth as (potentially employable) workers has escaped scrutiny. Inspired by Foucauldian analyses of human resource management (HRM) practices, this article examines employers’ graduate careers websites and explores the discursive construction of the ’employable graduate’. The article contends that these websites function as a mechanism of anticipatory socialization through which HRM practices extend managerial control into the transitional space of pre-recruitment, with the aim of engaging students’ consent to particular norms of employability.