Whether you're seeking your first role, or your fifth, job-hunts can be an exciting but challenging process.

Check out our top tips, and learn more about support available to job-seekers.

Securing your first graduate role can feel tricky at times, so here are some tips to help you navigate the job market and land your dream job:

  1. Define your goals
    Clarify what type of role you want and which job sectors interest you the most.

  2. Tailor your applications
    Tailor your CV and cover letter to each role to show how your skills align with the specific job requirements. Refer to internships, part-time jobs, or volunteering to highlight relevant experience, skills, and achievements. Remember, you can upload your CV to CareerSet (our AI tool) for instant CV feedback. You can even upload the job description of the role you’re applying for, for feedback on how well you’ve tailored your CV. Remember: you’ll need to register for an alumni email, if you haven’t already, to keep accessing all our resources.

  3. Network, network, network
    Networking can open doors to opportunities. Connect with employers on Handshake, attend industry events, reach out to York alumni on York Profiles and Mentors for advice and insights about your chosen industry.

  4. Practise psychometric tests
    Many graduate recruiters use numerical testing as part of their recruitment process. By practising these on AssessmentDay, you’ll feel confident if asked to complete these by an employer.

  5. Upskill
    Through York for Life, you can access a wide range of training, which could help you to secure your first role. 

  6. Prepare for interviews
    Research the company thoroughly before interviews, as it's important to show genuine enthusiasm to stand out from other candidates. Be ready to discuss your strengths, weaknesses, and how you can contribute to the organisation. Practise common interview questions on Shortlist.Me (accessible using a York alumni email), and if you need further help then book a careers appointment.

  7. Showcase your soft skills
    In addition to technical skills, check whether the job description is asking for soft skills like communication, teamwork, and adaptability. Make sure to provide examples of how you've demonstrated these skills during your degree and work experience.

  8. Seek feedback
    If you receive rejection emails or don't make it past an interview, consider reaching out for feedback. Constructive criticism can help you improve and increase your chances of success next time.

  9. Stay focused and positive
    Stay dedicated to your goals, and maintain a positive attitude. Rejection is part of the process, and each experience can teach you valuable lessons. If you’re struggling, book an appointment with us, and we can talk through any feedback you’ve been receiving.

Check out some more of our advice:

If you’re in your first or second graduate job, and considering looking for a new role, you are likely to be an early-career seeker (defined by Handshake as someone with less than five years of experience).

Remember, you now have the benefit of having additional experience to show you are qualified for new roles. Make sure to have a thorough think about the skills you’ve gained so you can discuss these in your applications and in interviews.

You will also now have a broader network – this can be beneficial for hearing about opportunities.

Looking for a new role can be a difficult process, so here are some tips to help:

  1. Tailor your applications
    Avoid mass-applying for jobs. Tailor each application to the specific company and role you're applying for. Read the job description carefully and highlight how your skills match their needs.

  2. Refine your online presence
    Employers often research candidates online. Ensure your social media profiles are professional and present you in a positive light. Update your LinkedIn profile, to showcase the skills and experiences you gained during your time at York and in your previous roles.

  3. Network, network, network
    Networking can open doors to opportunities. Reach out to employers on Handshake, attend industry events, and reach out to York alumni for advice and insights about your chosen industry.

  4. Use York’s resources
    We can help you with CV reviews, interview preparation, and connecting with employers. Check out our new alumni offer York for Life too, where you can find training in a wide range of topics.

  5. Practise interview skills
    Prepare thoroughly by researching the company, understanding the role you're applying for, and practising common interview questions on Shortlist.Me. This can help you to gain confidence and improve your communication.

  6. Stay positive and develop a growth mindset
    The job search process can be challenging, and rejections are common. Don't be disheartened; instead, learn from each experience and stay focussed.

  7. Seek feedback
    If you receive rejection emails or don't make it past an interview, consider reaching out for feedback. Constructive criticism can help you improve and increase your chances of success next time.

  8. Use your experience
    Your previous roles can be very beneficial in your job search. For example, you can reflect on your experience and draw out your key achievements, to use in applications and interviews. You’ll also have a range of contacts who may since have joined other organisations and be able to provide some insights.

Check out some more of our advice:

Seeking a new role when you already have experience puts you in a great position. You can reflect on your values and the work which energised you, and use this to consider the types of roles you are interested in. You will also have built up a network, which you can use to hear about new roles.

  1. Online presence
    Polish your LinkedIn profile to highlight your key experience, skills, and endorsements. Engage by sharing industry insights and networking with relevant connections.

  2. Decide your non-negotiables
    Reflect on your previous experience to refine your non-negotiables – such as work culture, flexibility, location, or growth opportunities. Use this to narrow down your job search, focussing on companies that align with your values and career aspirations.

  3. Target strong matches
    Focus on opportunities which align with your skills and interests - where you can contribute significantly and continue to learn and grow. If you are looking to make a career change, read our tips on changing direction.

  4. Upskill with York for Life
    Check out York for Life for access to Linkedin Learning, and equip yourself with new skills to help you stand out.

  5. Meet recruiters
    Reach out to recruiters, such as REC, Hays and Michael Page. They can provide insights, offer job opportunities, and help you to tailor your application for specific roles.

  6. Grow your network
    Attend industry events, workshops, and webinars to expand your network. Networking can open doors to hidden job opportunities and provide valuable industry insights.

  7. Be selective on your CV
    Tailor your CV to each application, emphasising experiences and skills that align with the job requirements. Be concise and focus on achievements which demonstrate your impact in previous roles, and what you could bring to the organisation. Your years of experience bring a wealth of knowledge so make sure to emphasise your most relevant skills and achievements.

  8. Be confident and aim high
    Believe in your abilities. Your previous career experience means you can bring a range of skills and in-depth knowledge. Don't shy away from applying for roles that might seem ambitious – you have valuable expertise to offer.

  9. Interview preparation
    Practise your interview skills on Shortlist.Me, to ensure you present your experience clearly and confidently. Use the CAR method below, to articulate how you've overcome challenges and made a positive impact.

CAR stands for:

Context - Set the scene: what, where and when.

Actions - What action did you take?

Results - What was the outcome? 

Job-hunting can be a tricky process, and it’s a good idea to reach out for help. As well as booking a Careers appointment with us, here are some other types of support you can benefit from.

Career coaching:

Having a career coach can be incredibly beneficial when job seeking. Coaches provide personalised guidance, helping you to identify your strengths, define your career goals, and develop effective job search strategies.

If you were a UK home student and graduated within the past 12 months, you may be eligible for career coaching from the University of York.

“The support felt very personalised; it was always tailored towards achieving my specific goals. Overall, I found careers coaching to be a wholly positive experience. It has really demystified the job application process for me and given me a blueprint for how to succeed.” (Martha, 2023 Graduate)

Learn more about coaching and register your interest.


Graduates into Work

A programme for unemployed and underemployed graduates living in North Yorkshire (outside the City of York boundaries). Offering support through one-to-one coaching and online training courses.

Find out more about the Graduates into Work programme.


Professional bodies

Many professional bodies have dedicated job search pages on their websites, where you can find relevant vacancies, networking opportunities, and industry-specific advice. These include the British Medical Association (BMA) for healthcare professionals, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) for engineers, and the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) for marketing professionals. Most industries have professional bodies - find those within your chosen sector.


Smart Works

Smart Works is a UK-based charity which provides support to unemployed and vulnerable women. They offer interview coaching and workwear to boost the confidence of women seeking employment. 


Mental health and wellbeing support:

Mind provides articles and blogs, and shares coping strategies for a range of mental health concerns. They also run helplines and host support groups.

The NHS suggests ‘Five Steps to Mental Wellbeing’ which include: connecting with others, being physically active, learning new skills, giving to others, and paying attention to the present moment (mindfulness). This guide promotes a holistic approach to mental health, with steps to include day-to-day.


Financial support

Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA):

The UK government provides financial support to job seekers, which is designed to provide assistance to those seeking employment.

The amount of Job Seeker’s Allowance you may receive can vary based on your income and employment history.

To apply for JSA, you generally need to provide information about your job search and attend regular appointments at the Jobcentre.


Universal Credit:

Universal Credit combines various forms of support, including housing costs and child-related financial help, into a single payment. It's available to those on low incomes or without a job.

Government policies can change over time, so we recommend visiting the official government website for the most up-to-date information on how to apply, and eligibility requirements.