The job market can be fiercely competitive for those applying for their first graduate jobs. You may have studied hard for years and achieved some excellent grades throughout your academic studies. You have probably thought that your life would become easier once you have graduated. However, many find it challenging to land graduate jobs. For most employers, a good degree is no longer enough. When considering candidates, most universities would look for relevant previous work experience as well as the ability to demonstrate a range of soft skills such as time management, organisation, team work, and communication skills.
How to find a job?
You might like to visit the jobs.ac.uk platform on a regular basis to keep informed about graduate jobs. The UK Higher Education sector supports more than 815,000 jobs in England. Searching and applying for jobs can be time-consuming. You need to consistently schedule time for your search and make a record of the applications you have made. If your university offers career coaching, do make sure that you book a session. Careers departments may offer mock interviews, revise your CV and your cover letter, and give you guidance on which organisations have employed their graduates in the past. At times, they might be able to put you in touch with alumni members who have successfully secured employment after graduating.
How to apply?
Many candidates submit generalised applications to try and save time. It can be time-consuming at first to craft bespoke application materials. Make sure that you carefully look at the job description and the application criteria and submit tailor-made materials for each job you are applying for. When creating your application, try to consider what would make your application stand out from the crowd. Have you completed any placements whilst studying at university? Have you volunteered for organisations and gained some relevant skills? Have you achieved any awards?
Many candidates are worried about not having sufficient professional experience in their CV. If this is a concern for you, you might like to take up volunteering or start working on a casual/ part-time basis while completing your academic studies.
Try not to leave your application to the last minute. When you spot a vacancy, do apply as soon as you can. Universities could close applications earlier than the indicated deadline date if they receive lots of interest. If you have made some applications and you have not received any interview invites or offers, do try to change your approach. Ask yourself the followings:
- Are you creating bespoke applications for each job?
- Are you casting your net wide and considering a wide range of graduate jobs (e.g. different geographical locations and organisations)
- Have you asked a friend/ family member/ colleague/ mentor to proofread your application?
How to list transferrable skills?
Transferrable skills are important because they demonstrate your ability to do the job even if you have not done it before. These can highlight your potential to successfully deliver the tasks. It is a good idea to list your transferrable skills in your CV. You might like to start by looking at the job description to see which skills are relevant. Do not forget that interviewers might ask you to explain when and how you have demonstrated these skills. Make sure that you prepare one or two real-life examples to support each transferrable skill.
Here is a list of transferrable skills you might also find relevant: problem-solving, effective communication, adaptability, and flexibility, data analysis, detail orientation, critical thinking, creativity, business acumen, ability to work under pressure, meeting deadlines, organisational skills, IT skills
10 Top Tips for finding your graduate job:
- If you have a LinkedIn profile, do ensure that the information is up to date. Employers may search online to check your background.
- Avoid submitting applications in a hurry. Always take the time to draft quality applications.
- Ask a trusted friend to look at your application and give you some feedback on how you can improve.
- Mock interviews can make all the difference. Do ask a friend/ family member/ careers advisor to run a mock test with you prior to interviews.
- Before taking part in interviews, spend lots of time researching the organisation. Look at their social media presence, events, and news and consider who their competitors might be.
- It is best not to include a photo in your CV.
- Be honest when describing your experience and skills.
- Think carefully about what could make your application stand out. What skills or experiences have you got which might be particularly valuable to future employers?
- Create a spreadsheet and record what jobs you have applied for, when you have applied, the outcome, and where you have found them.
- Be resilient. It can be challenging to receive rejections. Try to learn from each unsuccessful application and constantly refresh your approach.
You might find the below CV template useful. However, this is for general guidance only. Please tailor your application according to each vacancy.
Your First and Surname
Tel: E-mail: LinkedIn profile link:
A graduate professional with previous experience in the higher education sector. Experienced in delivering administrative support and coordinating marketing events. Confident user of virtual platforms and MS Office programmes. Demonstrates excellent organisational and interpersonal skills. Displays a positive outlook to all challenges, is flexible, and able to manage priorities.
Month/ year Qualification 1: Bachelor’s degree (Honours): Business Management
Name of the university or education provider Result:
Month/ year Qualification 2:
Name of the university or education provider Result:
Job title 1: Administrative Officer (part-time) 2020 – Present
Name of the employer
- Responding to customers’ queries via e-mail and phone
- Maintaining the departmental databases
- Managing projects to improve administrative procedures
- Coordinating face-to-face and online promotional events
- Organising departmental meetings and taking minutes
Job title 2:
Job title 3:
Transferrable skills: effective communication, creativity, able to work independently as well as part of a team, attention to detail, ability to meet deadlines, flexibility
- Jan 2021 Professional Development course on the ‘Principles of Digital Marketing’
- May 2020 Effective Communication Skills course
- March 2020 Advanced Project Management course
Professional Associations/ Scholarships/ Additional projects/ Awards:
References are available upon request.
Further CV tips and templates:
- How to structure a creative CV
- What do employers look for in a CV?
- Free CV template
- 10 things NOT to do on your CV
- CV Writing: Which Words Will Open Doors on a CV?
- The Questions Your CV Really Needs to Answer