Whether you're a student, a graduate or are employed and considering moving on, finding a job takes time - so focus on these five essential steps to landing a suitable role

According to the latest Graduate Outcomes survey from HESA (Higher Education Statistics Agency), over four-fifths (82%) of UK graduates from the 2020/21 academic year were either in paid employment, working unpaid or working while studying 15 months after graduation.

This means that while a range of roles are available for talented graduates, it's likely you'll be facing a highly competitive application process. Therefore, being well-prepared could be your key to success.

Discover the steps you'll need to take to find a graduate job in the UK.

Do this by making good use of the following resources:

2. Gain experience

Once you've decided on the type of role you're aiming for, gaining some relevant experience will introduce you to the skills you'll need and help you to develop them. This also demonstrates your commitment to working in that field and allows you to make contacts as you go.

This experience can take a number of forms, including:

  • Internships - lasting anywhere from a few weeks up to 12 months, an internship is a fixed period of work experience aimed at giving students and graduates relevant experience in their field. Interns are classed as workers and are paid at least the National Minimum Wage (NMW) - see GOV.UK - National Minimum Wage rates.
  • Volunteering - if you've got the time to spare, you could give your time to a worthy cause to develop your skills and learn more about working as part of a team.
  • Work placements - if a work placement is a compulsory element of your degree, it's likely that it'll be formally assessed through completing tasks and projects. If it's not compulsory, you can arrange your own by contacting employers to enquire about your options. You could also consider virtual work experience.
  • Work shadowing - by observing a professional in their role for just a day or two, you'll gain a valuable insight into what their work involves.

For more ideas, explore how to get a job with no experience.

3. Network

The saying 'it's not what you know, it's who you know' may spring to mind here. By making yourself and your ambitions known to those already in the industry, you'll be considered for future job vacancies or work experience opportunities.

You'll need confidence and a proactive attitude to approach employers, but try not to feel intimidated - they've all been in your position before and know how it feels.

You can start networking from home - your first point of call should be your friends, family and colleagues, before attending relevant events - discover how to make the most of careers fairs. You can also connect with professionals and organisations through platforms such as LinkedIn, if you're using social media in your job hunt.

4. Tailor your CV

Once you've found the role you'd like to apply for, prove you're the best candidate for the job by tailoring your CV to the role.

Be sure to include examples from your past experience that match the skills and experience listed in the job description. By doing so, you'll stand out from the crowd of candidates submitting generic applications. Consider the top skills employers are looking for.

You may also be asked to provide a cover letter, which acts as a more personal introduction. Go the extra mile by discussing why you want to work for the company - evidence of research and passion will go a long way.

Learn how to write a CV, and the top 7 CV mistakes to avoid.

5. Prepare for the interview

Being invited to an interview may sound daunting, but taking the time to prepare beforehand will help you speak clearly and confidently, and leave the interviewer with a great first impression.

You can prepare in a number of ways. It's important to research the company and its achievements, as well as current affairs within the wider sector, but you could also plan answers to typical interview questions, and think about the questions you'd like to ask the employer.

For more advice on how best to prepare, whether you're attending a video, phone or face-to-face interview, see our interview tips.

Alternative routes

Although these are the steps you're likely to take in your search, this isn't the only way to find a job.

For instance, if you'd like to work for a specific company that isn't currently advertising a vacancy, you could contact them directly with a speculative application. This shows confidence and initiative, and even if there are no positions available you may be signposted to opportunities elsewhere.

If you've got the initiative, knowledge and passion to drive your ideas forward, you could consider starting your own business or becoming an entrepreneur. Get a full overview of self-employment in general.

Another route to consider, if you're still studying, is to apply for a graduate scheme - many of the UK's largest companies offer them, in a range of specialisms such as finance, HR, healthcare, engineering and IT.

Top tips on how to get a job

  • Don't feel disheartened if you're turned down for a position, either at the initial application stage or after an interview. You'll likely be competing against a large volume of applicants. Get in touch with the interviewer or company for feedback to find out how you can improve for future interviews. Learn more about how to respond to job rejection.
  • Sign up for job alerts - this will save you time and introduce you to opportunities you may not have previously considered. The more detail you give as to what job you're looking for, the more likely you are to receive vacancy alerts that excite and motivate you. Sign up for job alerts with Prospects.
  • Register with recruitment agencies - they're well-connected and will put you forward for positions requiring your skillset. Building a good relationship with your job agency will help you to land a role that's appropriate and satisfying.

Find out more

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