When should I start looking for a graduate job?

You can’t deny that this year will be different for graduate jobs. Competition will be fierce. But our advice for when to start looking for a job is the same as always – the earlier the better.

Well that was a quick blog, hope you enjoyed it!

Actually, wait. We should clarify what we mean by ‘looking for a job’. We don’t mean spending hours on Google and sending off 100s of applications to any job you see.

There’s a lot more for you to do, whether you’re just starting a course, or coming to an end of uni. And we shouldn’t forget that you have your course to think about. That’s why starting early is important, so you can balance the two along with your other interests. The last thing we want is for you to get stressed, and we’re here to support you along the way to avoid that.

So what can you do now?

  1. Research different industries, sectors and job roles

You may be clear in what you want to do when you graduate, you may have no idea, or you may be somewhere in between. All of these are acceptable places to be, as we all live our lives at a different pace.

The best way to understand an industry/sector/job is through experience. If you can, try and get some work experience. This could be through insight days, volunteering, part-time work, work experience, internships or a placement year.

This might be difficult right now though, so another great way is through networking and talking to people about their experiences. We run events such as the Employer Panels and Industry Insights so you can hear this first hand, and ask questions to professionals. See all the events on My Jobs Online.

You can also Google it (other search providers are available… apparently), and we have information about different industries on our blackboard page.

2. Think about what you want from a job

What’s most important to you? The salary, the company’s values, the hours? Or is it the variety, the work-life balance or the big name brand that you want? Make a list so that when you are looking for jobs you can easily refer back to what is important to you.

A lot of people are attracted to big name brands, but remember that smaller companies may offer you more variety in a role.

3. Research different companies and their recruitment schemes

Once you know what you want, have a look to see what’s out there and what their typical recruitment scheme is like. Some companies run insight days, discovery programmes, or run webinars to help you understand them more. This could be a great way to get yourself noticed too.

Typically, big brands run their recruitment schemes in the autumn term, ready for you to start work the following summer. This year may be a bit different, so keep your eye out and sign up to their mailing lists.

You can read more about the difference in graduate schemes and entry-level jobs in one of our earlier blogs.

4. Understand your strengths and skills

This can sometimes be overlooked, but by really understanding what you are good at, and what you enjoy doing, you can narrow down different types of jobs.

Are you naturally organised? Do you have a creative flair? Do you love data? We’re all different and there are a lot of different strengths and skills than the first ones that come to mind. Being able to use your strengths at work will make you enjoy your job more.

5. See your Careers Consultant

No matter what stage you’re at, we’re here to support you. If you want to discuss your options, have your CV checked or practice for an interview, you can do this with a Careers Consultant. They’re all qualified and experienced, so they know what they’re talking about. And you can see them about anything related to your career, as many times as you need. Book an appointment on My Jobs Online.

What’s next?

Once you’re ready to start applying for jobs, start applying for them! Applications do take a long time, so by following the above steps you can make sure you’re focusing on quality rather than quantity.

Again, we can help with your application, so if you want some sound advice, speak to a Careers Consultant. You can also get advice on our blackboard page, where we have templates, examples and things for you to think about.

Now, take a minute to imagine what it will feel like to get a job offer before you finish your course.

Feels good, right? By thinking about your career now, you can start acting and feel more secure about your future.

One thing to note – don’t be disheartened if you don’t hear back from an application, or if you get a rejection. It happens to us all, and it happens often, especially in today’s job climate. Failure is not a setback, it’s a learning curve. It may take you a few days to recover, or you may be super resilient already, but remember not to let it get to you, and to keep trying.

Good luck and please do make the most of what is available to you.