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Time scales for graduate recruitment

Not sure about the difference between graduate schemes and graduate jobs (or direct entry jobs)?  Have a look at the explanation in the first section on the graduate jobs page.  These are advertised at different times of the year, with different timescales and recruitment processes.

Graduate schemes

Recruitment to graduate training schemes starts far in advance of actual start dates - so be prepared to think about what you want to do and apply early.

  • Summer before final year: If you haven't already, start thinking about what you want to do and which organisations you are interested in. Research the companies, think about your strengths and skills, and make sure your CV is up to date.
  • Sept - Dec: The peak time to apply for graduate schemes. Many employers will attend university recruitment fairs and other events, so take the opportunity to meet them to find out more and demonstrate your interest in working for them.  Watch out for deadlines; some are very early eg the Civil Service Fast Stream, popular with many York students, can close in late October.
  • Dec - Feb: Initial sifting of applications by online tests, video or phone interviews. Some schemes are still open. Some operate a rolling recruitment process, assessing applications in batches. It is best to apply as soon as possible as they may close when they have enough good applicants, and keep checking as new roles may be added. 
  • Feb - April: The later stages in the selection process include assessment centres, interviews and job offers.
  • May - June: Some schemes may re-open if they have unfilled vacancies.
  • July - September: Start dates. If you are a Masters student applying to a graduate scheme, you may need to negotiate a September start.
  • Ongoing: A few graduate schemes also offer January and April start dates, and so recruit throughout the year.

Graduate jobs / direct entry jobs

These jobs are advertised all year round by organisations of all sizes and in all sectors. The recruitment process is shorter than for graduate schemes; the employer may expect to fill the role within around six weeks of advertising.

  • Sept - March: Use this time to do your research; find out what skills are in demand in the sector you're interested in. Use the information on our website, starting with the ideas section if you're not sure, the apply for jobs section to understand the recruitment process and how to make a strong application, and the graduate jobs section and job hunting toolkit to practise reading job adverts so you know what employers are looking for.
  • March - April onwards: Direct entry jobs advertised from around Easter are suitable for undergraduate candidates finishing in June. Jobs advertised in early summer are likely to have a September/October start date so may be suitable for taught postgraduates too.
  • Ongoing: If your first applications are not successful, keep looking - jobs continue to be advertised year round. Seasonal peaks for job ads are around May - July and then again in September - November. 

Placement years and internships

Depending on the type of company you are hoping to work for, the time scales for placement years and summer internships are likely to be similar to those for graduate schemes above. Schemes with the "Big Four" professional services companies are likely to close by December/January, whereas internships and placements with smaller organisations or in other sectors have later deadlines.

Summer internships offered by the University of York's Student Internship Bureau are advertised from the beginning of April.

Find out more about placement years and internships on our Internships and work experience page.