Graduate Jobs

Graduate Jobs

To make the most of your graduate job search, it is important to have a clear idea of the career options which you want to pursue. Have a look at the advice and resources on these web pages as a starting point:

It is also worth spending some time doing research into potential employers.

When you are considering opportunities after university, you are likely to encounter a plethora of terms. This may raise questions, such as:

  • What’s the difference between a graduate scheme, a graduate job, and a graduate internship? 
  • When and where can I find these opportunities?
  • How do I apply? 

This page will help to answer those questions and help you navigate the graduate jobs market. 

Graduate schemes 

A graduate scheme is a structured and time-limited programme. Commonly found in large businesses, public services and charities, but some smaller employers may offer them. They come in all shapes and sizes, but some common traits include: 

  • Work interspersed with training and/or qualifications
  • Early responsibility and an emphasis on leadership
  • Rotation across different departments and/or branches to get a feel for what you like best (rotations can be within a pre-chosen specialism or more varied).
  • Last between 1-3 years. 
  • Early recruitment cycle - start to look in the summer before your final year of study (and it’s advisable to research before that) for schemes starting the following summer or autumn. 
  • Deadlines vary, but many are in December or January. Some close early if they have a high number of applications. Most welcome applicants who have graduated in the last 2-3 years.  
  • A multi-stage recruitment process, typically involving an initial written application, psychometric assessments, telephone/video interviews, assessment centres and final interviews. Seek application support so you feel as confident as possible.  
  • Are found across the country, typically in cities but not just in London. Some may be multi-location. 

Graduate jobs

  • Any job that requires a degree! 
  • However, graduate jobs may be in fields that strictly speaking accept other qualifications/routes in, but where a degree may be seen as an advantage.  
  • Unlikely to have a defined programme of training and development, but this doesn’t mean that there aren’t any developmental opportunities. 
  • Apply 1-2 months before being available to work but it is beneficial to research and make connections prior to that.  
  • May also be referred to as ‘Direct entry’ or ‘Entry level’. Just check the detail to see if it is aimed at graduates. Some graduates initially start in non-graduate roles as a stepping stone to gain more experience before progressing. 

Graduate Internships

  • Temporary positions, so ideal if you want more experience before committing long term. 
  • Advertised all year round; apply 1-2 months before being available to work. 
  • Should be paid, but there are exceptions. 
  • You can find a useful summary of the law around this on TARGETjobs. Find out more on our Internships page.  

Researching Employers

You need to know as much as you can about the company or organisation when applying or approaching them, to make a quality application, and to enable you to perform well at interview. The research you do will not only demonstrate your enthusiasm for a position but will also help you demonstrate your match to the company's culture and values. Graduate recruiters will expect you to have some understanding and awareness of their organisation and the business sector in which it works.
Break down your research into these main areas:

  • Background information - what the company does, where it is located, its history, its clients and its competitors.
  • Understand the "big picture" - what are the issues and trends in this profession or industry? What skills are likely to be needed now and in the future? What impact will economic and technological changes have? How does your role fit into the organisation?
  • Company culture and general feelings - core values and aims, how the company sees itself, how you see the company, and personnel policies
What is the best way to research companies?

The first and most obvious place to look is an employer's website. Current students can also access the University’s Library Services Business Information subscription databases. Your local library reference section may also have a lot of information on local and national companies. Internet sources can add value to your search:

  • TARGETjobs Employer Hubs - independent reviews about top graduate employers 
  • Prospects - search for company profiles by sector 
  • Glassdoor - provides you with an inside look at company review/interview questions and salary information
  • Social networks - you can use LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to help build relationships and discover more about organisations and their working culture.

Where to look for graduate schemes and jobs (not exhaustive)