Finding graduate jobs

The majority of students go into employment after graduation, usually in jobs that either require a degree, or for which having a degree is an advantage. By reading the following article you will understand how to start your job hunt, the broad types of ‘graduate jobs’ that exist, and how to go about finding job opportunities.

Creating a job hunting strategy

Lots of people start job hunting by looking at vacancy websites without knowing what exactly they are looking for. That can mean that you waste a lot of time looking at unsuitable jobs, or that you miss really good opportunities advertised elsewhere.

Instead, it’s better to have an idea of the types of work you’re looking for first. If you’re not sure about this, you should use Need a starting point? which explains how to figure out what could be right for you.

Once you know what kind of work you want, use careers information to find out when relevant employers will be actively recruiting, and whether the jobs available include ‘graduate schemes’ or ‘direct-entry’ jobs (see below). Then you can develop an effective job hunting strategy.

Graduate schemes versus direct-entry jobs

‘Graduate schemes’ are usually with large employers and include many different types of work. Schemes often 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.

However, graduate schemes represent only a fraction of the opportunities available and many types of work don’t exist on graduate schemes. Instead, the majority of graduates go into what are sometimes called ‘direct-entry’ jobs which occur across all sectors and with large, medium and small organisations. These tend to be advertised in the second half of the academic year or as and when a vacancy occurs, although some employers may advertise in advance of this.

Once you have an idea of the relevant types of jobs you’re interested in, you are then ready to look for opportunities.

Where to look

The Careers Service’s Career Connect lists hundreds of vacancies, so that is a good place to start.

Other sites include:

  • Higher Education careers websites
  • Companies’ own websites
  • General job sites such as Indeed
  • Job sites which specialise in particular careers or specific countries, cities or regions
  • Recruitment agencies
  • Social media including LinkedIn and Twitter

Important: not all organisations advertise their vacancies. Many people find work through networking and making speculative applications, while some employers look at jobseekers' profiles on social media to spot potential talent. This is particularly true for certain sectors so if you are interested in working for particular organisations, you can contact them and ask about their opportunities.

Key tasks

1. When and how employers in different sectors recruit can vary, so it’s essential you know the best ways to find work in your chosen career. Read the relevant sector profiles in our Occupations information to understand what employers typically look for in your chosen field, plus links to specialist job sites and recruitment agencies.

2. Create accounts on graduate careers websites including:

3. If you’re looking for work in a particular location, filter your searches on websites by location.
For jobs in the Yorkshire region see Looking for work in the Sheffield area and Yorkshire graduates.

Looking to work abroad? Our International careers resource provides links to country-specific jobs boards.

4. See our advice on Networking, social media and speculative applications to find even more opportunities.

5. When you find a vacancy and are ready to write an application, make sure to see the advice in the relevant sections of our website.

Further information

There are graduate jobs and work experience schemes exclusively for BAME students or for students with disabilities, listed in Equality issues in 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 have clear equal opportunities and diversity statements on their websites.

Our Jobs, placements and work experience resources have further web links and information to help you find jobs.