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Where and when to find your first graduate job

iooWhether you’ve just started your final year or have recently finished your degree it’s likely that finding a graduate job will be on your mind.  To help you work out when and where to start your job search Suzanne Ball, one of our Careers Advisers, gives some tips on how to find the right graduate job for you.

Know what you’re looking for. It sounds obvious but your job hunt will be more effective if you know what type of job you’re looking for. Just browsing through graduate job sites without a clear idea of which sector or what type of work interests you is unlikely to be helpful. If you are unsure about what you want to do then tools such as Prospects Career Planner and TargetJobs Careers Report can be useful in generating job ideas and you can also book a one-to-one consultation with a Careers Adviser to discuss your options in depth. Once you are more focused it will then be much easier to identify when and where the job you want is likely to be advertised.

Know when to look for jobs. Timing is critical – graduate training schemes with major employers will usually open for applications in September or October and may close as early as November. However don’t assume that all graduate employers recruit in this way. Some large employers will recruit throughout the year and, occasionally, some will reopen their recruitment later in the year if they haven’t filled all their places. Be aware that graduate training schemes are not the only option open to you and smaller companies will usually recruit new graduates later in the year. The other thing to remember is that formal graduate training schemes aren’t available in every sector.  In many cases students will still be actively job-hunting a few months before they’re due to graduate.

Know where to look for jobs. A Google search will usually identify national sites such as Indeed and Monster. While there’s nothing wrong with these websites (and people do find graduate jobs using them) you’ll need to widen the scope of your search if you don’t want to miss out on some opportunities.  Knowing what you’re looking for will help you to work out the best places to find advertised vacancies for jobs in the sector that interests you.  Options might include:

  • General graduate job sites.  Sites such as Prospects, Milkround and TargetJobs carry listings of jobs for new graduates/graduate training schemes (check out Careerhub for a comprehensive list).  These sites tend only to advertise vacancies with larger employers and won’t carry opportunities for every job sector.
  • Specialist job sites. There are many websites that carry vacancies in specific job sectors. Some are aimed at new graduates while others will post jobs for new graduates as well as for more experienced hires. To work out which specialist job sites to use log onto Careerhub for sector-specific lists and check out the occupational profiles on Prospects for helpful links. You can also search for specialist recruitment agencies via the Agency Central and REC
  • Company websites. Most companies will have a careers or jobs area on their website which will list current vacancies. To find relevant employers you can search company directories (some are available in the LRCs) and relevant professional bodies will sometimes publish membership lists. The occupational profiles on Prospects will give details of professional bodies.
  • Social Media. Follow companies and recruitment sites on social media such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to get news and job updates (but first make sure your own online presence is professional!).

Finally, don’t forget that some jobs aren’t advertised so you will need to develop good networking skills (both online and face-to-face) and be prepared to make speculative applications. Internships are becoming common ways for graduates to find their first job and, as well as looking for advertised internships, you should be prepared to contact employers directly to see if they’re offering work experience opportunities.

Suzanne Ball is the Careers Adviser for the Schools of Creative Arts and Health & Social Work. She regularly tweets on all thing creative via @CareerView.

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