A Graduate’s Guide to Finding the Right Career!

By J&C Team

You’re on your way to getting a degree, but what’s next? Here’s how 
to find your place in the world of work!

The country’s top employers are upping their graduate recruitment by 4.3% this year, the fifth consecutive year in which graduate vacancies have grown. Yet despite this increase, the number of candidates applying for every job remains high. Together, the country’s top employers have received 9% more graduate job applications so far this year compared with 2016, according to research company High Fliers. Here’s how to stay one step ahead of the competition.

Where to look


This online graduate career resource advertises hundreds of paid internships, placements, graduate jobs and schemes. There are also advice pages to help you research different career choices and help with your decision-making and applications.

Milkround aims to help you to narrow your job search, apply for positions and ensure you make the best possible start to your career. Searching for jobs on the site is simple. Filters allow you to be as general or targeted as you like, and you can also set up personalised email job alerts for your career search preferences.

Recruitment agencies

It’s a common mistake to think there’s no need to bother to sign up with recruitment agencies when it’s so easy to contact potential employers directly. But by ignoring their services you could miss out on some great opportunities.

Recruiters often have jobs on their books you won’t have seen advertised elsewhere. Many companies choose recruitment agencies as their only method of sourcing new employees, as they prefer to pay someone to sift through hundreds of CVs and compile a shortlist of candidates. And as recruitment agencies get paid a commission for every person they successfully place in a job, you can be sure they’ll do their very best to at least get you an interview.

Once you’ve signed up with an agency, you’ll usually be allocated a recruiter who knows everything there is to know about the job market that interests you. They should also be able to suggest the best jobs that fit your profile, tell you what particular employers are looking for, whether your experience and qualifications are up to scratch, and advise you on how to improve your CV.

You can always pass on any leads that an agency puts your way. And as you don’t pay for their services, you’ve nothing to lose by signing up.

what you can do

While agencies can be a useful tool in your hunt for a job, you shouldn’t rely on them entirely. There’s still a lot you can do for yourself to improve your chances of employment.

Use your connections

Don’t be afraid to capitalise on contacts – be they neighbours, family friends, fellow graduates or people you’ve met through work placements. Offer to shadow someone in the industry that interests you. Chances are they’ll be flattered you consider them to be a potential mentor.

Make yourself more employable

There’s plenty you can do to make yourself more attractive to potential employers in a competitive job market. Volunteering, fundraising and mentoring are great ways to show how you contribute to society, for example.

Think about what you can put on you CV under “Other interests”. Writing a blog – especially covering something related to your chosen industry – can act as a great reference point for potential employers. Playing a sport is a good way to demonstrate teamwork and dedication, for example, while learning another language can also strengthen your CV.

Research the company

Even before you submit an application, it is worth doing extensive research on the company. Finding out as much as possible about your potential new employers will help you tailor your application to the company’s ethos.

If you are invited for an interview, your research will stand you in good stead. As well as allowing you to ask pertinent questions, you will also be able to make interesting observations at the interview to help you stand out from the crowd.

Consider starting small

You shouldn’t only consider the big guns when looking for work experience or a full-time job. Research shows 39 people apply for each graduate job at leading companies, so competition is stiff. Start-ups may not be as high profile as bigger firms, but gaining industry experience is all-important. You can also look into temporary internships to get your foot through the door.

Be prepared to move

The best opportunities don’t always present themselves on your doorstep, so being flexible about where you live will open up a whole new world of career possibilities. A willingness to relocate for a job also demonstrates adaptability and enthusiasm, attributes prized by prospective employers.

Graduate schemes

Most graduate schemes are extremely competitive, with entry requiring a minimum of a 2:1 degree. You will also need to demonstrate that you have the right skills and characteristics, such as initiative, dedication, good time-management, and the ability to absorb information and think commercially.

The following companies and organisations offer excellent graduate opportunities.


If you’re looking to get into the public sector, why not try the UK’s biggest employer? The NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme lasts from two to two and a half years, operating in six different departments: finance management, general management, health analysis, health informatics, human resources and policy and strategy.

You’ll receive in-depth training and get to shadow a variety of people, including frontline staff. Salaries start from around £23,000, excluding location allowance where applicable. By the end of the course, you could be on the road to a management role within the NHS.


The one-year Area Manager Scheme at the German supermarket is one of the best packages out there for graduates – a £44,000 salary, plus a fully expensed company car and healthcare benefits. Based in one of its nine UK centres – Bathgate, Darlington, Cardiff, Swindon, Bolton, Neston, Atherstone, Chelmsford or Goldthorpe – you’ll be trained in all business areas, starting at store level and moving up to areas such as logistics, financial planning and business administration.

In week 14, you’re given the opportunity to temporarily manage your own store, and the final five weeks will see you manage an entire area, encompassing three to four stores.


One of the largest fast-moving consumer goods companies in the world, Unilever owns some of the biggest brands on the market. The company offers a three-year Future Leaders Programme, with the opportunity to become a manager after two. You can work in areas such as finance, supply-chain management, and research and development, with a starting salary of around £30,000.

The programme also incorporates chartered qualifications in areas such as management accountancy, engineering and human resources, with the aim of being fast-tracked into a senior management position.


This British institution offers 12-month graduate placements in journalism, engineering, IT, production and new media, with a starting salary of £25,000, including London weighting. Due to the BBC’s worldwide reach, you’ll work on projects that have a global impact, as well as making some valuable media contacts. The BBC Academy also provides first-class training from specialists within your area.


Pharmaceutical giant GSK provides opportunities in science, engineering, sales, marketing and much more. During the two- or three-year Future Leaders Programme you’ll rotate between different business areas and locations in the UK. High-performing graduates may also get the opportunity to work in other countries.

As well as a salary starting at around £25,000, you’ll get access to training and mentoring from senior members of staff within the organisation.