Finding a suitable graduate job can be a long process, so discover how to ensure your effort is rewarded and it leads to that all-important offer...
Finding graduate jobs
You can start your graduate job search in a number of places. It's best to check a number of different resources regularly, as new listings will appear daily:
- careers fairs, open days and workshops
- Universal Jobmatch, via GOV.UK
- professional associations
- recruitment agencies
- sector-specific websites
- social media, such as LinkedIn
- trade journals
- university careers and employability services.
Some of the world's largest companies - many appearing in The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers - offer fiercely competitive graduate leadership programmes. In joining a graduate scheme, you'll earn a respectable salary and gain an invaluable insight into the many functions of a business - most schemes include allocated time in HR, IT, sales, finance and other departments.
Graduate schemes usually last one to two years, with the possibility of permanent employment if there's a job vacancy at the end. Although most schemes are open to graduates of any degree subject, most employers demand at least a 2:1 - or to be on track to achieve one, if you're still a student.
Applications for graduate schemes tend to open from autumn until spring, with assessment centres, interviews and psychometric testing taking place shortly after this window if you're successful.
Internships are a valuable route towards gaining relevant, career-boosting experience and building useful contacts. They can last anywhere from a week to a year, be paid or unpaid and may lead to a permanent job.
An internship might be for you if you're looking to:
- enhance your CV
- network with potential employers
- confirm that a career path is the right one for you
- explore a job role in an insightful, informative way.
Recruitment agencies are outside firms who connect jobseekers with potential employers. Agencies look for candidates with qualifications relevant to the role, and in some cases recruit for roles not publically advertised. This speeds up the hiring process and ensures the jobs you're considered for will complement your skillset.
Specialist sector job agencies will have invaluable knowledge of their particular industry. They're well-connected, meaning your CV can be sent speculatively to numerous employers - including those you hadn't considered. By building a good relationship with your job agency, you're likely to land a role which is appropriate and satisfying for you.
Find out more about recruitment agencies.
Having a wealth of potential employers at your fingertips means staying in touch with the current job market has never been easier. Social media offers a quick and efficient solution to traditional networking and, as the online world is constantly open and updating, you'll be the first to know of any new vacancies if you're keeping an eye on companies via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Not only is social media beneficial to your search, it helps your potential employers too - about 90% of employers now look at a candidate's social media accounts as part of the hiring process.
For more advice on how to optimise your social media presence, see job hunting and social media.
It may seem nerve-wracking, but networking can play a crucial part in finding a graduate job. Many jobs aren't publically advertised, but having the right contacts could mean you'll know about a vacancy before it hits the job boards.
Some contacts may be able to refer you elsewhere if they aren't hiring themselves, which gives other employers a great first impression of you and increases your chances of securing an interview.
You can now network from home by using social media platforms such as 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.
A speculative application involves direct correspondence with a company without reference to a specific job vacancy. A speculative application shows initiative and portrays you as a confident and passionate candidate, giving you an opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
Deciding to go down the self-employed route is no mean feat - it'll require resilience, motivation, creativity, organisation and a generous helping of self-belief. In being your own boss, you'll be working to your own schedule, so you can plan your life and workload as you please.
There are several types of business you could set up, including but not limited to:
- sole trader
- limited company
Becoming a freelancer or a consultant is another popular route into self-employment. Freelancers and consultants are common in the creative arts, journalism, IT, leisure and accounting, business and finance industries.
Find out more about self-employment.
Top five job-hunting tips
- Stay motivated - your job hunt may leave you feeling disheartened and frustrated, but you'll land the perfect role eventually. Learn from your mistakes, ask for feedback wherever possible and keep looking forward.
- Network - there's some truth in the saying 'it's who you know, not what you know' when it comes to finding a graduate job. Use social media to your advantage and visit careers fairs. Never be afraid to reach out - managers and CEOs were once in your position.
- Target your job application - tailor your application to the individual job specifications and values of each company. A personal cover letter showing research and passion goes a long way - a general, vague covering letter is grounds for a hiring manager to disregard your application.
- Sign up for job alerts - fully utilise this feature of job search websites to 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 alerts for vacancies which excite and motivate you.
- Volunteer - this enhances your CV, teaches you transferable skills and says to an employer that you're proactive and willing to get stuck into new challenges. If you can't find an organisation you'd like to volunteer for, even pursuing passion projects and hobbies will give your application more depth.