Finding graduate jobs

Creative job searching

The Careers Service can support you throughout your time at University, from finding part-time work and placements to getting your first job after graduation.

Making a start

If you’re not sure about the type of work or career you want, you should use our section Understand yourself and your options which explains how to figure out what could be right for you.

Once you know what you want, you can then find out how the job market works and when and where to look.

Many of the largest organisations run training schemes to recruit graduates. Lots of these schemes begin to recruit a year in advance, opening up for applications from the summer onwards. Closing dates can be Christmas or even earlier, so you should start looking early if you want this kind of opportunity. Some employers don’t have a closing date but will stop recruiting as soon as the positions are filled, while others recruit throughout the year.

Training schemes like these are only a fraction of the opportunities available though, and the majority of students get jobs outside of such programmes, often with smaller or medium sized organisations. Many employers in this category advertise in the second half of the academic year, or as and when a vacancy occurs.

Current graduate vacancies

Career Connect, our Careers Service portal, holds hundreds of vacancies. Login to MUSE if you are a student or register if you are a recent graduate.

Where to look

In addition to Career Connect (see above), there's a variety of ways to find adverts for jobs and placements aimed at University students.

Specialist jobsites and recruitment agencies

If you want to find jobs on websites specialising in particular careers, search our Occupations information which includes links to professional bodies and recruitment agencies. Search by occupational area / type of work.

if you want to remain within the Yorkshire region, Yorkshire graduates hosts a regional website. There are also graduate internship initiatives such as the RISE programme in Sheffield, which are advertised on Career Connect.

There aren't many other regional graduate job boards, so if you are keen to work in a particular area, search one of the larger jobs databases and then limit your search by location.

International options

Our International careers resource provides links to careers websites around the world, with advice on working in other countries and jobs boards.

International students wanting to work in the UK? See our advice on working in the UK during your studies, or after you graduate.

BAME students and students with disabilities

There are a number of graduate jobs and work experience schemes exclusively for BAME students or students with disabilities. We list these in the Equality issues section of our Information Resources. Many other employers actively promote their commitment to diversity in the workplace, e.g. those which have signed up to the UK Government’s ‘Disability confident’ scheme or which have clear equal opportunities and diversity statements on their websites. It is definitely worth exploring opportunities with such employers but don’t limit yourself to those alone. Many others take a positive approach to equality too.

Speculative applications - how to find 'hidden jobs'

Not all organisations advertise their vacancies, many recruit through speculative applications. If you are interested in working for particular organisations you may need to contact them and ask about their opportunities.

Speculative applications are more likely to work if you come across as well-informed and interested, so you need to research the type of work and the potential employers before you make contact with them. 

Start by looking at job profiles which describe the kind of work that interests you:

Then you can use business directories to find details of employers such as location, size, and what they do. Knowing more about an employer's business before you approach them will improve your prospects.

Making contact

Contacting employers involves more than simply asking about jobs. Ask for information and advice to demonstrate your interest and develop your knowledge. This insight means you are more likely to succeed when asking about actual vacancies.

Possible approaches:

  • Ask for information about working in their industry and the routes in. Explain what appeals to you about it.
  • Ask if you can work shadow someone for a day to see what the job involves, or ask about short term work experience.
  • Follow up and develop your contacts. Talk to as many people as you can to add to your network.
  • Read our guide to social media and your career to create a professional online profile and connect to people and organisations, e.g. on LinkedIn.
  • Email them a CV and covering letter to ask about jobs or work experience and phone them a few days later to see if they can help.

Speculative applications have to be well informed and persuasive, tailored towards your chosen type of work and employer. Not all succeed and you often need to be persistent, but many people do get jobs, experience or work shadowing this way. It is well worth trying, especially in sectors with relatively few advertised vacancies e.g. media, arts administration, publishing.

Market yourself positively and try not to be put off by rejections.


Volunteering is a great way to gain skills, particularly if you haven’t worked before or want experience in a sector where there is little paid work available. It’s also flexible as you may volunteer for a day, a week or longer, including evenings or weekends. Employers are positive about voluntary work as it shows you are willing to give something back to your community.

Note: a genuine voluntary role means there should be no contract or expectation about the hours you work. If there are set hours or a specific job description, you may be a ‘worker’ rather than a ‘volunteer’ and eligible for the National Minimum Wage.

Opportunities exist with a wide range of organisations and all major towns and cities have opportunities.

A good starting point locally is: