Once you’ve decided what career you want to go into, the next action to take is to find a job!
You may have previously worked, throughout college and university, but looking for full-time employment is a minefield and can be classed as a job in itself, it takes up so much time!
What sort of job are you looking for?
Once you’ve got your degree, there are a number of types of jobs available to you, and what you want to achieve from your career and the sector you are in can determine the path you want to explore first.
Graduate scheme job
A graduate scheme is a one year to three year structured training programme offered by many large employers to develop their future leaders. As a graduate trainee, you’ll gain hands-on experience and responsibility from day one, and undertake a number of projects to get you up to speed.
Graduate schemes are popular with many industries including accounting and finance, charity and not-for-profit, construction, consulting, energy and utilities, engineering and manufacturing, government, healthcare, hospitality and tourism, HR, IT, law, logistics and transport, marketing, media and advertising, retail and scientific research and development.
As graduate schemes are competitive, our advice is to apply for graduate level jobs alongside graduate schemes, as it will offer you more chance of employment post university. As schemes are available to students for up to three years post graduation, you can always apply for one the following year if you don’t get a place the first time.
A graduate job is a job which entails skills, knowledge and experience you won’t have without a degree. The position might ask for a degree as a prerequisite, or it might ask you for skills and experience you just wouldn’t have gained without those three years.
Graduate positions are available as and when companies need them, in a range of different industries and sectors, and there are a number of ways to find them and apply for them, as stated below.
If you feel as though you need to gain more experience in an industry before embarking on a full-time contract, and internship might just be the right move for you! An internship is a work experience placement which can last anywhere from approximately two months to a year. They offer hands-on experience, the chance to understand what the working world is like, and the ability to find out whether a career is really right for you.
Once you’ve completed an internship, you will be in a much better position to apply for either a graduate job or a graduate scheme.
An entry-level job is one that doesn’t require the prerequisite of a degree or the skills and knowledge that go with it. You will most likely have your hopes pinned on one of the alternative options, however don’t be disheartened if your first job is not at a graduate level - 36% of graduates are in the same boat.
Furthermore, gaining an entry level job can help you better understand what you are good at and enjoy in the workplace, so you can hone your job search when you decide to move, and it can also help you gain that vital experience necessary for a graduate career in the long run. Additionally, unlike the other options, you won’t be a small fish in a big pond, so you’ll have more opportunity to stand out, put your skills and knowledge to good use, and make a difference to the company, which may just help your career in the long run.
Finding that first job
If you are applying for a graduate job or entry level job, here’s the steps you need to take to secure your first position post university:
1. Look for work
There are a number of ways to look for work:
- Recruitment agencies - A recruitment agency is a company that helps a company find the right talent when they’ve a vacancy. The agency will look for the right candidates to interview, and work with these candidates to help them prepare for the interview process. Some industries have dedicated recruitment agencies, whilst some such as Give a Grad a Go and The Graduate Recruitment Bureaux specialise in the recruitment of graduates and are a great place to start.
- Your network - friends and family might hear of vacancies that might be suitable for you. Let them know that you are looking and keep them in the loop.
- Careers service - your university careers service often has their own job board as some employers love to recruit from certain universities. They can also help you with your CVs and interviews so remember to touch base with them and get all the help you need.
- Jobs boards - websites such as Reed, Indeed, CV Library and Monster are great places to start when it comes to looking for work. Jobs boards are where employers advertise a vacancy along with the skills and experience need for the role, the responsibilities the role entails, and the location, pay and start date. You can also find sector specific and graduate job boards.
- Speculative applications - as not all vacancies are advertised, sometimes the best way to find the job you want is to target the employers you’d like to work for. Here’s a bit more on how it works and how to make the most out of the process.
- Social media - social media is a great way to find your first job. Companies will announce when they are hiring new staff, so follow the companies you’d like to work for and make sure that you keep connected so that you’re the first to find out about opportunities.
2. Gain experience (if you need to)
If you find that you don’t have the right skills and experience when looking for your ideal position, one thing you can do is to gain more experience. This may involve taking an online course to get you up to scratch or undertaking some voluntary work.
3. Tailor your CV and cover letter
Once you’ve a job that you wish to apply for you’ll do this through sending off your CV and cover letter. As a graduate with little work experience, you might want to focus on the skills you’ve gained throughout your time at university, on your course, in part-time work and through clubs, volunteering and societies.
Remember to keep a spreadsheet of all the positions that you’ve applied for so that you don’t get confused or overwhelmed.
4. Attend an interview
If an employer likes the sound of you on paper, he or she will invite you to an interview to see whether you are the right fit for the company, and you can also get to know a bit more about the company and whether you’d like to work there.
If they like you, you’ll be invited to join, if not, it’s back to square one and more job applications!