What is the difference between a graduate job and a graduate scheme

Graduating this summer and don’t know what your next career move should be? Here we run through the types of jobs you could obtain, once you hand in that dissertation and gain your honours. It’s an exciting time!

Graduate Job

A Graduate Job is one where employers will ask for a graduate qualification as a minimum entry requirement, as in that time you will have developed the skills and knowledge needed to perform the tasks in that position. 

It may be that from there you’ll gain further qualifications, such as chartership or accreditation, or enter a professional body. 

Whether you need graduate-level qualifications to enter the workplace will depend on the industry and role you are interested in. Furthermore, many employers are changing their routes into the workplace and are offering more higher apprenticeships or graduate apprenticeships, so the routes to a career are becoming more varied and less well defined. 

However, your job will be a job role like any other. You will have set duties and tasks to perform, and will intimately get to know that job role. 

Graduate jobs are a great starting point to get into the world of work. They help you better understand your industry and your company, and your job role specifically. You may find that you really enjoy some aspects of your role but not others, and once you are there you can start to think about your next steps and what direction of the career ladder you are going to move up in. 

Graduate Scheme

A Graduate Scheme is a structured time-limited training programme of between one to three years and is primarily offered by large organisations. You’ll be taken on what’s known as ‘rotations’ through various branches of the business so that by the end of the programme, you’ll be well-versed in all aspects of the business, and will be able to choose a field in which you want to continue. 

Professions such as banking, construction, retail, accountancy and engineering often recruit via the graduate scheme method as it allows their employees to get a better understanding of how the company works as a whole. It may be that your training includes further studying, especially in an industry such as accounting, where formal qualifications are required. 

There are only a set number of graduate scheme roles going in the UK and getting a place on one can be tough. In 2018, finance, advertising and professional services hired 1% of the candidates that applied, whilst public sector and engineering hired 2.5% and retail hired 7%. Furthermore, many companies require you to have a 2.1 or above alongside a multitude of extra-curricular activities and previous work experience. 

Therefore, it’s important to branch out and not put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to graduate schemes. A mixture of graduate scheme and graduate jobs applications can work wonders, with (only!) 51 applicants per place for graduate jobs. 

However, graduate schemes do pay more, with the average company offering £29,000 per year, compared with £19,500 per year for medium-skilled graduates as a whole. 

Entry-Level Job

You may have also have heard about entry-level positions. They are suitable and open to anyone and can be especially useful if you have few qualifications or experience in the industry you wish to pursue.

However, especially in these COVID times, it’s much better to have a job than no job, and there’s so much valuable experience from being in work, plus it can do wonders for your mental health. You’ll gain experience in a working environment, and start to learn what aspects you like and dislike about your job. You might gain contacts who can help you get to your next steps, through insights or connections, and you’ll continue to hone some of your transferable skills such as working under pressure, verbal communication, teamwork, organisation and time management. 

During your entry-level position, you can continue to look for both graduate jobs and graduate schemes. 


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