The Ultimate Guide to Finding Graduate Jobs UK

The Ultimate Guide to Finding Graduate Jobs UK

So, you are coming to the end of life at University and your parents are pressuring you to find a job! This may seem like a daunting task as there are a million and one things to consider from researching your ideal job, preparing your CV, completing numerous application forms, to nailing your interviews – the list is endless. Talking from experience, we know the best way to make sure the process doesn’t overwhelm you is to have a plan. At the risk of sounding like your dad the old quote “Fail to plan, plan to fail” is spot on! That’s what this guide is all about – helping you to plan how to find the right Graduate Jobs UK for you.  

Thefirst thing you need to do when you are looking for grad jobs is toacknowledge the fact you are going to be under a lot of pressure. You willprobably be under pressure from your parents, from your tutors, maybe even fromyour friends and from yourself. We’ve tried to make our guide as simple andeasy to follow as we can – while also being realistic. It is going to take someeffort to get your first job, yes, but it will be worth it. 


Time tostart with the basics. Break your job search down into steps and that way itwon’t overwhelm you. It also keeps you on track if you are hit with anysetbacks along the way.  So, lets break it down into five easy steps: 

StepOne: Identify What You Have to Offer 

The bestway to ensure you are successful in your graduate job hunt is to evaluateyourself and work out exactly what it is you have to offer employers. Goingthrough this process will help you so much when it comes to completing your CVand writing your cover letter.  

Theeasiest way to evaluate what you have to offer is to sit down with a sheet ofpaper and make a list of all the skills you think you have. This is not a listof jobs you have done or projects you have undertaken but the knowledge andexperience you have that you can transfer into the world of work. What is itthat is different about you? Why should the company you apply to choose youover any other graduate out there? 

Forexample, if you have done presentations to the rest of your course members aspart of your degree, then there are two skills you could write down – publicspeaking and communication.  If you have worked in groups as part of yourcourse then you can add leadership and delegation to that list, and so on. 

Youshould also think hard about any work experience you have and note this down aswell. All employers will prefer graduates with work experience, as it means youhave proven you can hold down a job, and your employer can also talk to yourprevious employer about what kind of employee you were. Even if you think yourwork experience Is not directly related to the graduate role you are applyingfor – there are ways of presenting it to make it seem more relevant.

Make anote of: 

  • Your role: Startdate, job title, location and end date 
  • Company details:industry, size of company, annual revenue 
  • Market niche:regional or global company? Market value, market share, competition 
  • What you did: whatyour responsibilities were and how your role fitted into the overall company 
  • Skills: What skillswere you required to demonstrate to get the job, and what did you learn whileon the job? 
  • Achievements: Didyou win any awards while working? How did you have an impact on the success ofthe company? 

Theother thing you need to think about is what you are prepared to do and what youdon’t want to do. Are you willing to relocate or not? How many hours a weekwould you like to work? Do you want to work in a sales roll or not? Are thereany industries you would not want to work in? Again, being clear on exactlywhat you want, and don’t want will make narrowing down your ideal role easier,and save you spending time and effort on getting a role you don’t really want. 

StepTwo: Hone your Commercial Awareness 

The nextstage in the graduate job search is to do some research into the type ofcompany you think you might want to apply for. Many employers find commercialawareness a very important skill for employees to have, and so showing you havethis from the start could be a way of standing out from the other graduatesapplying for the same role. After all, around 35000 people graduate from Universityeach year, and this number is rising, so the amount of graduate jobs on offerisn’t always enough to go around. 

Commercialawareness tends to refer to a person an understanding of the wider environmentin which an organisation operates, what makes the business successful, andhaving an appreciation of the factors that make the business a success. Youwill need to think about things like:

  • What the companydoes, what they are known for, and how they make money.  
  • What the companyoffers customers, in terms of products or services  
  • Where does thecompany sit in the market? Who are their competitors? How are they differentfrom their competitors?  
  • Things that arehaving an impact on the market the company is operating in, such as the priceof oil, new technological developments, and so on 

StepThree: Find the Right Role 

Thereare lots of ways to find out what graduate roles are available – and the firstplace you should start is our powerful search interface. You can search by jobtype and location to really narrow it down. You could also try career fairs oncampus, virtual careers fairs or individual employer websites. 

There isno right and wrong way to find a job, it depends on how you want to do it. Ifthere is a

companyyou want to work for try emailing them and seeing if you could meet someonethere for a coffee and a chat about any opportunities they may have – they canonly say no! You should also use your network as well take advantages of anylinks you have to the industry you want to work in.  

StepFour: Preparing Your Application 

So, nowyou have identified what you have to offer, and honed your commercialawareness, the next step is to prepare for your job search by crafting anawesome CV and writing the perfect cover letter.  

Your CVis the first thing a perspective employer will look at when considering yourapplication for a job, and so it is worth putting the effort in to make it easyto read and engaging. They will probably see thousands of CV’s daily, so keepyours short and lay out all the essential information in a way where they cangrasp it quickly and easily. If you have a lot of work experience, thenconsider adding a link to your LinkedIn profile, so that you can keep thelayout of your CV streamlined, while offering the perspective employer thechance to find out more if they want to.  

We willcover crafting the perfect CV in more detail in future blog posts, but for nowlet’s look at the basics that you need to include on it: 

  • Your Name (forobvious reasons) 
  • Your ContactDetails – phone number and email address 
  • Personal Statement– a short summary of what you are looking for in a position and what you haveto offer. Make sure it is no longer than two sentences. 
  • Work Experience –start with your most recent employer and work backwards. Include the dates youwere employed for, the name of the company you worked for, your job role, whatyour responsibilities were and what skills you demonstrated. You can alsoinclude voluntary positions in this section or add them as a separate sectionafterwards if you prefer. 
  • Qualifications –list your University, the name of your course, your degree title, when youexpect to graduate and you’re A’ Level or GCSE results. 
  • Skills – You canuse this section of your CV to highlight how you demonstrate any skills theperspective employer has listed in their job advert. You could also includecomputer programs you are familiar with, the fact you have a driving licence,any languages you speak and if you have experience of blogging or webdesign.  
  • Interests/Hobbies –This should be a brief, focused section which showcases any interests you havethat may align with your perspective employer’s business. 
  • References – It isusually acceptable to put the line “References available upon request” on yourCV – unless the job advert specifically requests details. Just make sure youhave spoken to the people you are going to use as references to make sure it isOK to give their name and contact details out.   

Once youhave nailed your CV you need to work on your cover letter. If your CV has doneits work and caught your perspective employer’s eye, then your cover letterwill back this up and cement the fact that you are the right person for thejob. Like a CV your cover letter should include the following information

  • Your name, address,phone number and email 
  • Company contactdetails 
  • Position – thecompany may be offering several graduate positions so make sure it is clear tothem which one it is you are applying for 
  • Skills – Look atthe skills you have included on your CV and expand on them by relating themback to the job description.  
  • What you have tooffer – this is your chance to tell the perspective employer why you are abetter choice than any other candidate and how your long-term career goalsmatch up with the company’s long-term goals. 
  • Why you want theposition – let your passion for the role and the company shine through 

StepFive: Applying for Jobs 

Graduatejobs tend to be available all year round, but if you are in the last year ofUniversity the period of September to January is vital for you. It is essentialto get in early to give yourself the best chance of getting the role you want. 

Thestandard recruitment process for graduate roles tend to follow a set process:the job is posted, CVs are screened, candidates are invited in for a firstinterview, there may be a possibility of a second interview, a job offer isthen made to the successful candidate, and they will start the job. 

A lot ofcompanies these days undertake the application process online, meaning youshould tackle the application form in the same way as your CV. Making anawesome application means using all of the information you pulled together inStep One to showcase yourself and stand out from the crowd.  

Hopefullythis guide to finding graduate jobs has helped you out a little bit. We willcover all of the subjects we mention in this graduate jobsguide in more detail with various blog posts over the coming months – so keepyour eyes out.   

Simon Thompson

Simon Thompson is CEO of Simon is a recruitment professional that pioneers the usage of video in recruitment and fully committed to helping young people find employment.