Careers Service

Graduate Jobs

Graduate Jobs

In This Section

There are many ways to find a graduate position, from online vacancy sites and graduate directories, to networking and social media.

Read on to find out:

  • about graduate jobs and graduate schemes – the differences and similarities
  • how to find opportunities – including where to search for advertised vacancies, how to approach employers directly with a speculative application, and how to find opportunities through social media and recruitment agencies
  • how to research typical graduate salaries

You can also pick up free directories in the Careers Service, listing graduate employers in the UK, including:

Graduate Scheme Or Graduate Job?

There are two main types of graduate employment in the UK: graduate schemes and graduate jobs. They are both valuable opportunities requiring a degree, however the structure and application process can be quite different.

Graduate schemes

Graduate schemes (or ‘programmes’) tend to be with larger organisations and are usually structured training programmes of around 18 months to 2 years, with employers often recruiting a large number of graduates in each intake. They are usually very competitive and involve several stages in their recruitment process. You often need to apply almost a year ahead, with applications usually opening around August or September and closing as early as October - December, for roles starting the following summer/autumn.

They are common in sectors such as business, finance, engineering, retail, law and IT, though can also be found in smaller numbers in the creative sector (such as media and PR) and not-for-profit (eg police, social work and teaching).

Entry requirements vary, but employers often ask for a minimum degree classification of 2.1 or 2.2.

Many graduate schemes, for example, accountancy and management, are open to any degree discipline, though some will require a specific degree subject, for example, in engineering, IT and science.

Graduate schemes are usually advertised widely – search using the vacancy sites listed under Find opportunities. You can also speak to graduate recruiters at recruitment fairs and employer presentations to find out more about their roles.

Graduate jobs

Graduate jobs also offer training and support, but they can be less structured than graduate schemes. Recruitment for graduate jobs can take place all year round, and jobs tend to be more likely to start immediately, with often a much shorter recruitment process.

Graduate jobs can be found across all sectors, from small to large companies. The Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education 2015/16 survey, published in 2017, showed that in 2016, only 57.6% of UK graduates went to work for large companies with 1,000 or more employees. It also showed that:

  • 34% of graduates were employed by a company that had fewer than 250 employees
  • one in six worked for a business with fewer than 50 employees.

Graduate-Jobs.com explores the pros and cons of working for a smaller company.

Graduate jobs can be less widely advertised, so you may need to do more research to find them. Some recruiters advertise their vacancies on graduate job sites, but some may only post them on their company website or in sector-specific vacancy sites or recruitment agencies. You can also find potential opportunities by contacting companies directly, with a speculative approach – see Find opportunities for advice on this.

Have a look at the Finding Jobs section on our sector-specific pages for additional vacancy sources and ways to find companies to research and contact.

This Guide to graduate schemes from Debut Careers has more information on the main differences between graduate schemes and graduate jobs.

If you’re not sure which route is best for you or you’d like help with finding opportunities, call into the Careers Service to speak to an adviser.

Watch our video 'Graduate training schemes: making sense of the options' (17m 16s) to find out more about:

  • what graduate schemes involve
  • how to find them
  • how to get onto one

Subtitles/closed captions are available.

Find Opportunities

You can start your graduate job search in a number of ways: from searching through advertised vacancies, using social media or recruitment agencies, or contacting companies directly.

The key is to start early and do your research. Many large employers recruit at the start of the autumn term, while others (particularly small and medium sized companies) recruit all year round.

Take the time to research employers and opportunities – talk to recruiters, eg at recruitment fairs and events, and think about the skills and qualities you have to offer. We can help you consider what opportunities are right for you, how to find them, and how to make a strong application – visit us to speak to an adviser.

We’ve listed below four key ways to find graduate opportunities:

  • advertised vacancies
  • speculative approach
  • social media
  • recruitment agencies

You can also use our Sector-specific Information to look for graduate opportunities in specific roles and sectors.

If you're looking for graduate jobs in a specific location, we've listed local North East vacancy sources, as well as regional and international jobs.

If you're an international student, you might be interested in our information on working in the UK after your studies.

If you’re interested in creating your own graduate opportunity and working for yourself, our START Up team can help you.

Graduate Salaries

Find information and advice on typical graduate starting salaries.

Starting salaries for graduate jobs vary depending on the position and sector. To help, you can find company profiles which include information on typical starting salaries for graduates on TARGETjobs: Employer hubs.

Prospects also has a wide range of job profiles which include details of typical starting salaries. See also GlassdoorLinkedIn and The Graduate Market in 2019 (PDF: 2MB) for salary information.

For more information, including how to negotiate a salary with an employer, visit Handling job offers.