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Myth busting

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Here are some common myths about graduate job hunting - with some surprising truths. Click on the myth to find out more.

Career choices and planning

The decision I make about my career now will be my decision for the rest of my life so I have to get it right

It might feel like that, but that’s not the case. Right now you are making a decision based on what you understand about yourself and the world of work as a soon-to-be new graduate. Once you are working you may revise your decision as you learn more. It is not unusual for people to change careers several times during their lives.

Degree value

A degree by itself is a guarantee of a good job

For many positions this is just not the case. Employers may require a degree but they also need more - they want work experience, the right skill set, the right attitude and fit, plus motivation and enthusiasm for both the role and the company.

I need a 2:1 to get a decent graduate job

A lot of large graduate recruiters want a 2:1, although there is a move away from this by some companies. There are graduate schemes that accept a lower degree classification, and many smaller employers are more interested in your skills and work experience than your degree classification. Watch our video: Does it matter if you don't get a 2:1?

Job hunting

The best place to look for vacancies is online

This is a good place to look, but it’s also good to realise that these jobs are visible to many people and there may be a lot of competition for these. Think about making speculative approaches direct to employers,  and use your networks to hear about opportunities that might not be advertised.

It’s too late for me to apply now, I’ve missed all the opportunities

If you want a place on a large competitive graduate training scheme with an early application deadline, then you may have missed out on some opportunities. However, read our information on recruitment timeframes, and you can see that graduate schemes are only actually a small part of overall graduate recruitment in the UK. You may even find there are still some unfilled graduate scheme places later in the year.

There aren't enough graduate jobs

It can be daunting to see how many applications are submitted for vacancies with some of the top graduate employers. At times of recession and high unemployment, there are fewer graduate jobs. But the situation in 2022 is improving.

Institute of Student Employers (ISE) data shows that the number of graduate vacancies with top employers is now 20% higher than it was before the Covid-19 pandemic. Job vacancies for graduates are expected to increase in 2022, and in some sectors graduate supply does not meet demand.

(Source: Universities UK: Getting Results - Busting graduate job myths, April 2022)

Find out more about labour market information.

Everyone else in my house/on my course has already secured a graduate position

It might feel like everyone around you has sorted themselves out, but it’s not always the case. If you are not looking for a place on a graduate scheme, you might not even have reached the time of year when it’s possible for you to find any relevant jobs. If you’re feeling anxious, set some time aside to work on your CV so you’re ready to apply when an opportunity comes up.

I should apply for as many opportunities as possible to increase my chances of being successful

No. This will waste your time and it is disheartening to be rejected or not even hear back from employers. Do your homework: target jobs and employers carefully and take time to do fewer, stronger applications.

Graduate schemes and jobs aren't appropriate for Postgraduates

The majority of graduate schemes and jobs will state that applicants should have a minimum of an undergraduate degree to be able to apply but this doesn't mean that you can't apply with a postgraduate degree. Most employers welcome applications from postgraduates because of the additional skills, knowledge, experience and maturity that they bring. It is rare for there to be a separate entry route or higher salary for postgraduates, but many employers tell us that postgraduate entrants progress more quickly to higher level roles.

For some professional careers, a graduate scheme will be the main entry route if you don't have previous experience in the sector. Employers may support you to obtain relevant professional qualifications or chartership in your chosen career eg accountancy, human resources, health management, healthcare science, patent attorney, actuarial, law.

In some sectors there might be a specific entry route for those with a postgraduate qualification, for example the Civil Service Science and Engineering Fast Stream, postdoctoral opportunities in science and engineering companies and some roles in the finance sector that require high level quantitative skills.

If you have a postgraduate degree and related work experience a graduate scheme might not be right for you, as they are intended for graduates with limited relevant experience. In this situation most employers would recommend you look at their direct entry jobs for opportunities that match your skills and experience.

I don’t want to work for a large graduate-recruiting company/work in finance, so Careers can’t help me

We can! We offer information, vacancies and events focussing on a wide range of career areas. It’s true that some of the larger companies have a higher profile on campus (they have a lot of marketing resource!) but if they are not for you, come and talk to us to find out what else is available. You can also read more about smaller companies on our SME web page.

Most graduates work for large companies, smaller companies are “second best”

Most graduates don’t, in fact, get a place on graduate schemes with large companies. While the structured training programme in a larger company is of great value to some, others prefer the breadth of experience they may have with a smaller company. Training may be more “on the job” and less structured, but this is exactly what some graduates enjoy. In a small company you may find you have more of an opportunity to make an impact! Find out more about smaller companies on our SME web page.

All the graduate jobs are in London

Some are, many aren’t. It can depend on what type of work or type of company you are interested in. For example, the automotive industry is particularly active in the Midlands and the oil industry is predominantly based in Scotland. Other sectors (such as health, local government, and social care) have graduate opportunities throughout the UK. Many graduates work in places where they already have a connection (eg home area, university region). London may offer high starting salaries and many of the country's big businesses, but these have regional offices too - around four out of five graduates start their careers outside of London. Read our advice on understanding the labour market for more information.

Postgraduate study

Doing a Masters will make me more employable

If the course is required to help you get into a specific career area this might be true, but for many jobs having a Masters does not necessarily make you more employable. You still need to articulate the extra skills you develop through postgraduate study - and a Masters is not an alternative to having little or no work experience. If you are thinking of doing a Masters check if it’s necessary for the job you want to go into and talk to a Careers Consultant about your decision.

Careers support

Once I leave York I won’t be able to get support from Careers

The good news is that you can keep using our services after graduation, for as long as you need us. You can keep using your Handshake account as an alumni which gives you access to all of our appointments. You can meet us face-to-face or by video call.

I don’t know what I want to do so Careers won’t be able to help me

We can! We can help you start thinking about different career areas, and suggest ways for you to find out more about these. We have online tools and one-to-one appointments to help you work your way through your decision making.