Building your shortlist of graduate employers takes some research, but following these simple tips will benefit your job hunt…
Vacancies are advertised in many places. Use the following resources to find jobs, checking them regularly for updates if job alerts don't inform you automatically:
Some of the world's largest companies offer fiercely-competitive graduate leadership programmes. Participants earn a respectable salary, gain hands-on professional experience, and receive training and skills development. Programmes exist in most sectors, and typically last one or two years with the possibility of permanent employment if there's a job vacancy at the end. Around half of graduate development programmes are open to students of any discipline, though most demand that applicants have achieved - or are predicted to achieve - at least a 2:1 at undergraduate level.
Such graduate fast-track schemes are hard work; companies invest their time and money, so expect your dedication in return. You'll usually work in different areas of the organisation such as HR, IT, sales, finance, marketing and business management. You may also work in different locations across the UK, or even overseas. Training in areas including law, construction and management is often accredited by a relevant professional association.
Companies may use the 'graduate milkround' to attract university leavers to their general management trainee programmes. This sees employers give presentations and hold interviews at targeted institutions. Doing plenty of research about the business and demonstrating your enthusiasm for working there makes you stand out.
Application deadlines are often between autumn and early spring, with assessment centres or interviews taking place soon after if your initial application is successful. However, some employers close their schemes once vacancies are filled, so apply early. Be prepared for psychometric, competence-based tests throughout the application process.
Get started by searching graduate schemes.
These are an increasingly common way for students to gain work experience in a particular role. They're often taken on a full-time unpaid basis, last anywhere between one week and one year, and sometimes lead to permanent jobs.
Internships are worth considering if you're looking to:
Job sectors commonly offering internships include:
Agencies help with your job hunt, connecting those seeking work with potential employers. Many employers recruit solely through agencies, meaning that signing up gives you access to job vacancies not advertised elsewhere. Companies expect recruitment consultants to recommend candidates with relevant skills.
Specialist sector job agencies often have a strong knowledge of their particular industry. What's more, they can analyse and develop your skillset, provide advice to boost your application, and prepare you for interviews. They're also well-connected, meaning that your CV can be sent speculatively to numerous employers. This saves valuable time, especially if you're already in full-time employment.
Find out how to find a job through recruitment agencies.
Graduate employers that are recruiting can be found: on social media; through professional associations and industry bodies; at your university careers and employability service; and in publications such as The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers. However, be proactive - some opportunities may not be advertised. Applying speculatively shows prospective employers your initiative.
Various factors will influence your choices, but consider searching employers with a commitment to diversity and strong ethical credentials. Check company websites to discover the employer's level of commitment to equal opportunities. The public sector generally has a strong record for supporting equality.
Many job vacancies are hidden, so failing to network leads to missed opportunities. Family, friends and colleagues should be your starting point, but you can build a broad network of useful contacts through careers fairs, open days and workshops. Contacts can provide job leads, introduce you to employers with a job vacancy, and offer advice and information.
Simple conversations can lead to work experience and job opportunities, so don't be afraid to approach people directly. Proactively contact prospective employers for openings before they reach job boards, pre-emptively tailoring your CV and cover letter. Keep in contact, perhaps even asking whether they can recommend you to anyone else if full-time work isn't available. Referral increases your chances of being interviewed and getting a job.
Students and graduates are increasingly being contacted by recruiters thanks to their social media presence, so use LinkedIn and Twitter to your advantage. Use a consistent username and image, and reference other platforms that you're using professionally to link them. Join relevant LinkedIn groups to get involved in discussions, and keep adding contacts to grow your network.
This requires creativity, determination, knowledge, leadership, organisation and self-belief. However, being your own boss can have many benefits.
There are several types of business you could set up:
You could also become a freelancer or consultant - a particularly popular option for those looking to work within sectors including:
Find out more about self-employment.
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