Graduate Jobs

Graduate Jobs

If you’re not sure about the path you want to take when you graduate from university, don’t worry; there are many career opportunities out there that may be perfect for you. Whether you find that in a graduate job, a graduate scheme or even an internship.

No matter which stage you’re beginning your search: whether you’re in the first few weeks of university, or you’re about to graduate and are worrying that you’ve left job hunting a little late, we’re seeking to help you cover all the bases to get you started down the right path.

It doesn’t matter if you already have the ideal career in mind or have no clue about what options you may have, copious numbers of organisations seek the talent of graduates for their open roles. Your first job after graduation will help you gain the soft skills that are highly desirable to most employers, give you industry experience, and set you up for a career in the future.

You may be surprised about the number of options your degree will open up to you. Though you might think that your degree will have little bearing on roles outside of your studies; in reality, most employers will recognise the transferable skills that have come from your qualification. Before you narrow your scope too much, it’s crucial that you get a thorough understanding of all the possibilities that are open to you in order to not close the door on some great opportunities.

There are opportunities across numerous sectors (from marketing, IT, finance and law) open to graduates of all degree backgrounds, meaning it’ll be easy to find plenty of potential positions to spark your interest. What’s more, the Institute of Student Employers (ISE) has found that employers took on 7% more graduates in 2018 than the year before, so you’ll be certain to find something out there for you!

Though applying for your first job may be stressful and you might find it hard to stay motivated at times, it is our aim to provide you with all the information that you need to succeed and get the graduate role that you’ve been working so hard to achieve. To aid you in plotting the next stages of your career, we have collected some useful answers to all the questions that graduates often have, to help put your mind to rest about finding your dream job.

What qualities do employers find attractive in a graduate?

A university degree is no longer enough for most employers to hire a graduate recruit. Now, they are demanding even more from their potential employees in terms of their skills and attitudes. It is the personal qualities displayed on your CV and in interviews that will make you stand out from the crowd and let them know that you are the perfect match for the role. The soft skills that you’ve learnt on-the-job or through your time at university now mean more than ever.

Employers want their graduates to be emotionally intelligent and effective communicators, displaying the positive attitudes that makes them a team player. Additionally, candidates who are efficient problem-solvers have the edge in the graduate job hunt. Problem-solving is one of the most sought-after skills by organisations and so plays a big part in the application process for many graduate opportunities, with plenty of testing for this skill at every stage.

Furthermore, demonstrating an enthusiasm and commercial awareness for a company will reveal an indication of the type of employee you’ll be if you gain the job. Not all employers will expect you to have work experience under your belt, especially in some graduate careers where this is hard to come by. But, having some experience can show employers that you already possess the skills that will make you an effective employee.

It’s essential to remember that though it may not feel like it in the seemingly long days and weeks spent applying to graduate roles, most employers will understand the hard work that goes into a degree and will recognise this as proof of your character, even if you lack experience. Those abilities that you gained from corralling unruly group members into doing their part of the presentation or frantically organising your revision to meet all your deadlines while at university will also set a good example to employers.

Do graduate employers accept a 2.2?

Though stern lecturers and anxious course mates may have made you believe that a 2.2 will be the end of the world when it comes to getting a job after university, this is definitely not the case. Some employers request a 2.1 or higher from their graduate candidates, but this is not true for them all.

Even some of the largest graduate employers are flexible in their search for the best candidates and so open applications to those with a 2.2 degree. For these organisations, it is not the grade you achieved at university, but the skills they possess that make a valuable employee. If you can demonstrate that you have the desired soft skills or work experience to support your abilities, there’s no reason for you to not get into your dream graduate role.

If you’re worried about what you might be able to do next, it may be useful to know that industries, such as the civil service, financial services, engineering or IT, tend to be more open to graduates with a 2.2. Some large employers and multinational companies also take applications from those with this qualification, instead looking more to the relevant work experience that you may have; every employer is different. Find out more about individual organisations on their website or check out the opportunities on that may be ideal for you.

How are graduate jobs and graduate schemes different?

When searching for jobs after university, you may see hundreds of listings for roles aimed at graduates with different descriptors attached: either a titled with ‘job’ or ‘scheme’. The difference may seem rather subtle at first, but this is important to acknowledge when applying for these opportunities as they may make a huge impact on your first career.

A graduate scheme is commonly a short-term training programme (anywhere from twelve months to three years) created by the employer and can even enable you to become fully qualified and accredited by the professional body that oversees your occupation. You will often have the opportunity to rotate around different departments in the company in order to gain a holistic understanding of how the firm operates. Though some employers may offer you a role after the successful competition of the scheme, this is not always guaranteed.

A graduate job is a much more expansive title. For instance, a graduate ‘job’ could simply describe a role that requires you to have a university degree to be hired, or even a role that has been specifically designed by an organisation for graduates. These jobs normally grant permanent contracts to their recruits and are often less structured than a scheme as your development within the firm is dictated by your own strengths and hard work, than by following a strict programme.

Are my test results more important than my personality in a graduate role interview?

For graduate employers, assessing your personality can be much trickier than working out the practical skills you possess in an interview setting. However important it may be that you pass all the variety of assessments they send your way in the application process; much weight is also placed in you as a person – will you the right fit for their existing team culture? The skills that are important to your work can be learnt, but it is much more difficult for employers to influence the way you act. So, it may be useful to assume that both are equally important in a graduate interview.

Does my degree subject matter to a graduate job?

You may find it either relieving or devastating to know that for most graduate jobs, your degree subject will not matter. There are huge numbers of graduate opportunities across multiple industries that do not require specific degree topics. Most employers will appreciate that you’re an intelligent being, with a vast amount of transferable skills from the years working on your degree. Written and oral communication abilities learnt from arduous group projects and time management talents learnt from juggling essays, coursework and lab reports will go a long way in impressing potential employers and are not restricted by the degree you do.

Will I be paid?

Fortunately for those of you out there suffering through the tragedy of student loan debt (we know what it’s like), most graduate jobs are full-time with the pay check to match. According to the High Fliers ‘The Graduate Market Report 2018’, the median starting salary for UK graduates last year was £30,000, with an average starting salary coming in at around £19,000 to £22,000.

Of course, these figures will depend on the company you eventually work for, with larger and prestigious companies normally offering their graduates better remuneration for their work. It’s also important to note that the kind of industry you wish to enter and the role you take on will also majorly influence the amount you will be paid in your graduate job. Investment banking schemes grant their recruits a salary of around £64,000 for their first year of employment, whereas a marketing company may offer salaries of £20,000.

Although many more companies are beginning to offer their interns a paid salary, many graduates are still expected to work for free. If you’re considering an internship to help you gain some more experience, you must consider whether it will feasible to complete if it’s unpaid as this may not be financially viable for all.

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