Graduate Careers

The Graduate Careers and team provide a professional, high-quality careers and information service for students and recent HN Diploma & Degree graduates, in collaboration with employers and other academic and service departments. 

Our aim is to support and develop our students by providing the tools they need to enhance their student employability, encompass career employability, and student development activities, including careers resources and appointments, skills sessions, employer events, community volunteering and professional mentoring. 

If you have any questions about how you can improve your job prospects, get involved in the community and help your fellow students, email us or call us at +44 (0)20 7243 4000 Ext. 6060

Graduate schemes 

Many large national and international companies offer graduate training schemes. Graduate schemes are advertised in directories and through online sources such as Prospects, Target Jobs and The Times Top 100 resources. Companies also advertise graduate schemes on their own websites. 

These are usually permanent jobs, but for the first year or two you’ll be undergoing a structured development programme that may include rotating around different departments, attending additional training courses, studying for professional exams and being allocated a line manager. 

These can be great opportunity for your learning and profile, setting you up for an excellent career, but may be too rigid and constraining for some, and come with high expectations of your future performance, which can be overwhelming if you are less ambitious or confident. 

Alternatives to graduate scheme 

You may be surprised to hear that the vast majority of graduates don’t join graduate schemes. They join organisations directly in a job. That can be in large organisations, but very many work for small or medium-sized employers which recruit very few recent graduates every year or so. These organisations tend to use mass market job boards such as Indeed or LinkedIn or may prefer more cost-effective recruitment through their local college or university, social media and networking events. Speculative applications and word-of-mouth recommendations are also regular sources of recruits. 

Jobs using professional journals 

Some employers will advertise via their industry-relevant professional body and/or journal, e.g. the Chartered Institute of Marketing for jobs in marketing. See if there is a related professional body for the career area you’d like to get into and find out where and how companies in this sector advertise their vacancies. 

Jobs using recruitment agencies 

Recruitment agencies operate as middlemen between the recruiter and the applicant. The recruiter pays them to find them good candidates, so there’s no charge to you as the applicant.   

Agencies should only be used for jobs that are difficult to fill – either because the skills required are scarce, or the jobs aren’t particularly attractive. Due to this, they are more used to find people who are very experienced, have very specific skill sets or will take any role to help them pay the bills.   

It should be noted the agency is there to find candidates for their client (the employer), not to find a job for you or provide you with objective advice.  

Many recruitment agencies deal with specific career areas.  

Using your own initiatives 

Who do you know already, and how can they help you? For example, many graduates secure their first job by turning a part-time job, graduate internship or summer job into something longer-term, because the organisation already knows how good you are. 

Alternatively apply for an entry level role, even if it doesn’t require a degree – it is quite common for some industries to initially take graduates into jobs that don’t require a degree e.g. marketing assistant, arts administrator, technician and runner (media), as these are great first steps on the career ladders. 

Build connections to find jobs that aren’t advertised. It’s easy to build a network with a little work and persistence. LinkedIn was designed for this, but don’t stop there – other social media sites, especially Twitter and Instagram are great for starting conversations. You can also go to events, such as conferences (online or in person) and get talking to people that way. We even know of someone who got their dream job by chatting to someone on the social media or in public places. 

Random applications 

This means proactively contacting companies to see if they have any suitable opportunities. Random speculative applications have a very low success rate, so it is advisable as a last resort. To find an employer to approach speculatively, use a business directory such as yellow pages. Identify companies that you might like to work for, research them, and then write to or email them with a CV asking for a meeting to discuss possible employment opportunities.   

Your Good Tips

  1. Try to find the name of a person to write to (phone if necessary). 
  2. Follow up with a phone call two weeks after you have sent your CV. Other options are to network or use work experience to create opportunities. LinkedIn can provide useful contacts and is a good source of local, national and global vacancies. 

When to start job hunting and applying? 

It’s never too early to start researching and finding out about careers.