Getting a graduate job

You've graduated and it's time to do something with your degree, but where do you find a graduate job? What are graduate training schemes? And how do you get onto them?

Boy in mortarboard looking confused

Hmm... where to find a job?

Finding graduate jobs

So where to start? There are loads of different places you can look.

Job websites

There are lots of websites specialising in graduate jobs, such as The Milkround and The Prospects website also offers careers guidance via email and a CV checking service where you can get feedback from a careers adviser.

Your uni career service

You may have left the fold, but your university’s careers service will still be open to you. And if you’ve moved away from your own university, your nearest uni may offer advice to local residents. Not only will they be able to work through your options with you, but they’ll also help you with CVs and applications, and offer practice interviews and aptitude tests.


We know the whole world is now online, but newspapers do still advertise jobs. You can look in locals and nationals to find vacancies. Most national newspapers have websites dedicated to helping you find a job, such as The Guardian‘s which offers career advice, too.

Reading trade press and journals is a good way to keep up to date in industries you’re interested in and stay ahead of the competition in interviews. They also list any new jobs. You’ll find periodicals in most libraries, and if not, look online to find specific journals.

Networks – online and personal

Utilise your contacts. You may not get a perfect job through tea with your Nan, but she may know someone who knows someone who can get you work experience. You can talk to potential employers online, too, through social networking sites. And Graduate recruitment fairs are also a good place to mingle.

Graduate training schemes

Many big companies offer graduate training schemes, where you gain valuable training whilst earning a salary – hooray! Opportunities range from accountancy, to law, to retail or teaching, and are often the easiest ways into certain industries. If you’re interested in a particular company, look for opportunities on their website, otherwise Prospects and the Milkround are good places to start looking.

Competition is fierce, but even in today’s job market positions are available. The high number of applicants means people are culled stage by stage. There are often online tests, phone interviews, assessment days and face-to-face interviews involved before you get the job. You can find company profiles and information about the interview process at WikiJob.

It’s totally normal to be knocked back a few times, so be prepared to apply to lots of graduate schemes before you get offered a job. “I’d almost given up hope of finding a graduate job,” says Nicola Brassington, who’s on the Microsoft Academy of Collage Highers (MACH) scheme. “I’d applied to two other schemes and then, after an initial phone interview, waited four months to hear from the MACH scheme before they called to invite me to the interview day. So I would definitely advise people not to give up hope!”

What are graduate employers looking for?

You may not believe this, but your annoying friend who got a first and is leaving uni with a perfect job is in the minority. Most graduates, whatever grade they got, have to do some hard graft to find a job once they’ve left university. You may find yourself doing unpaid internships for a while, or in a boring temp job, but they’ll give you what employers are really looking for – experience.

Ben Dickinson got his job as an Audit Associate at Ernst & Young (EY) through a placement scheme at Lancaster University. “Eighteen months of my four-year course were spent on a work placement at EY,” he says. “Out of 12 graduates in my office there’s only one who hasn’t come through a placement or summer internship.”

Ben was lucky that his placement led to employment, but not all work experience or internships do. So make sure you make the most out of working for free, build as many skills and contacts as possible, then you’ll have loads to put on your CV and increase your chances of getting a job.

Picture of graduate by Shutterstock.

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Updated on 29-Sep-2015