This page will help you understand the different types of graduate jobs and where you can search for them. Read the Graduate vacancies (PDF , 1,182kb) information sheet for more information. When you’re ready to apply, use the job hunting toolkit to help you through the process – it covers when to apply, understanding job adverts and answers common myths about applying for graduate jobs.
Graduate schemes are work-based training programmes for graduates.
They are usually available with large organisations and last from anywhere between 1 and 3 years, and sometimes longer. They usually result in a job with the company afterwards.
The programme will vary depending on the employer, but could include training, mentoring and a lot of hands-on work. Graduates are sometimes rotated around an organisation. Many graduate schemes pride themselves on giving a lot of responsibility to their graduates.
Graduate schemes are available in a range of sectors. Many allow graduates from any degree to apply, but some are more specialist and require certain qualifications.
They are very popular and the recruitment process can be competitive, often including a multi-stage process with online tests, telephone interviews and assessment centres.
Companies with graduate schemes tend to do a lot of promotion on university campuses. For example, you’re likely to find many attending job fairs.
If you want to get onto a graduate scheme you’ll have to apply early. Many advertise during the autumn and have deadlines around January. Some close earlier and a few advertise later. Most schemes start in the summer you graduate.
Benefits of graduate schemes:
A 'graduate job' refers to any job that a recent graduate (from an undergraduate or postgraduate degree) is qualified for. You may hear graduate jobs called 'direct entry jobs' or 'immediate vacancies.'
The vast majority of graduates go into graduate jobs rather than schemes. There are many more available and, unlike graduate schemes, you will find positions in all kinds of organisations, both big and small.
Graduate job vacancies may be advertised exclusively for recent graduates or they may be open to any suitably qualified person.
They differ to graduate schemes in that they are not structured training schemes. Instead, the successful candidate would be expected to do the job from their first day. This doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be training opportunities, but they wouldn’t be structured in a formal training programme.
Most students apply for graduate jobs one or two months before they finish their course - much later than the application deadlines for grad schemes.
Benefits of graduate jobs:
The term ‘entry-level job’ is generally used to describe a job for someone with little relevant industry experience.
You may see graduate jobs described as entry-level but you might also see non-graduate jobs (jobs which don’t require a degree) described in the same way.
Non-graduate jobs may be suitable for graduates who want to:
Graduate schemes are advertised on a range of websites, including:
Each year more than 300 graduate vacancies are advertised through Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP). These are roles for graduates lasting between 6 months and 3 years and are part-government funded. In KTPs, graduates work in businesses on projects using their expertise from their studies. They also get support from academics working in a similar area.
Many big organisations with graduate schemes attend university job fairs and sometimes run separate events on campus.
Events are a good way to learn more about a graduate scheme and make a good impression with a potential employer.
We run a number of large job fairs every year and a range of smaller events with top graduate employers. Find out what’s happening on our events page.
A number of student societies also run events with employers. Browse the list of societies on the YUSU website.
Graduate jobs are advertised on a range of websites, including:
Employers who are keen to recruit graduates often attend job fairs and events on campus. These events are a chance to find out more about job vacancies and meet and impress potential employers.
Many jobs are never formally advertised - anywhere between 30 and 70% of jobs, depending on the sector. Why? It is costly and time consuming to advertise, shortlist and interview for a vacancy.
Instead, organisations might wait for the right candidate to apply, hold a bank of CVs from people who have approached them or use their networks to find the right person.
This is called the hidden job market.
As a graduate, that means you could get a job by networking and sending speculative applications.
Some graduates use recruitment agencies to find jobs. Recruitment agencies are essentially middlemen, employed by companies to find suitable candidates to fill job vacancies.
Many employers use recruitment agencies – some even use them exclusively, meaning you may find vacancies through recruitment agencies that are not advertised elsewhere.
Recruitment agencies generally fall into three categories: high street agencies, which deal with a variety of work and tend to focus on local opportunities; specialist agencies, which deal with a particular job sector and are more likely to advertise national and international vacancies; and online agencies, which vary in the level of service they provide. You can find agencies on Agency Central.
You should never be charged for using a recruitment agency. They make money by charging fees to employers. Read more about recruitment agencies on our information sheet: Recruitment agencies (PDF , 538kb).
If you’re interested in jobs in science, there are a number of specialist agencies. Read more on our information for science students.
The labour market (ie available jobs and the recruitment to roles) can vary, depending on a variety of issues. This can be due to a recession, the decline of particular job sectors and industries or other restrictive conditions (such as the Covid-19 pandemic).
It may be harder to find and secure the job you want, but it doesn't mean it's impossible to get a job. It just means you may have to be a bit more creative in your approach, persistent in your job search and prepared to make adjustments, if necessary.
You may have to take up opportunities that may not be exactly what you want, if it means giving you a chance to work for an employer you're interested in. Many employees move between roles within the same company, using their experience in one job to learn more about the organisation and the opportunities available within it.
Keep up to date with the latest labour market information to identify areas in decline and where there is growth.
Networking and making contacts become even more important than ever in helping you identify potential job openings that are not necessarily being openly advertised.
Understand job adverts, tips on searching, learn what employers are looking for.
- Finding and applying for jobs: Graduate schemes
- Guide for applying to accountancy and financial services graduate schemes
Learn more about working in the UK after graduation.