What is a graduate scheme? [Everything you need to know]

If you are currently at university or if you’ve recently graduated, you’ve probably been thinking about what your next steps are.

Over the past decade, we have helped over 500 students and graduates to secure places on highly competitive graduate schemes.

This post will explain what a graduate scheme is, what the benefits are, how to apply for them and more.

If you have any questions that we have missed, or if you’d like help securing a graduate scheme, get in touch with us.

What is a graduate scheme? 

In short, a graduate scheme is a structured training program that is specifically designed for graduates who are in the early stages of their careers.

How long does a graduate scheme last?

Graduate schemes vary in duration however they typically last between 1 and 4 years. 

What are the benefits of doing a graduate scheme?

The benefits that you will gain from a graduate scheme will vary depending on the company. Generally, graduate schemes will come with a competitive salary, a clear career path, resources for training and development and more.

Graduate schemes give graduates the opportunity to gain hands-on experience and take responsibility right from the start. 

Some graduate schemes operate on a rotational basis where graduates will gain experience across a range of departments within the company. This provides graduates with broad experience and a deeper understanding of how the company operates. 

The rotational element of graduate schemes can provide a great entry-level job for graduates who aren’t sure of what they would like to specialise in. 

What is the difference between a graduate scheme and a graduate job?

Here are the main differences between a graduate scheme and a graduate job:
Graduate schemes last for a certain period of time depending on the role and the company. After the graduate scheme has come to an end, you may or may not be offered a job within the company. 

Also, graduate schemes tend to be more structured than graduate jobs. They’ll have a structured training program and may include several rotations. 

Usually, larger companies with large graduate recruitment budgets run graduate schemes. Graduate jobs tend to be less advertised, so can be harder to find. Therefore, if you are looking for a graduate job, it is important that you conduct thorough research and be sure to network.

Which industries offer graduate schemes?

Companies from a wide range of industries offer graduate schemes including:

  • Accounting and professional services
  • Armed forces
  • Banking and finance
  • Charity
  • Chemistry and pharmaceuticals
  • Consulting
  • Consumer goods
  • Engineering
  • Human Resources (HR)
  • IT
  • Law
  • Media
  • Property
  • Public sector

Are graduate schemes paid?

All graduated recruited into a graduate scheme will be paid a salary. The salary will vary largely depending on the role, company and industry. Alongside the salary, the company will invest in your training and development.

How much do graduate schemes pay?

Generally, companies in the investment banking and legal sectors offer graduates the highest starting salary.

Target jobs have put together a comprehensive list of the median starting salaries for graduates across different business sectors. 

It is important to not base your decision solely on salary but on what your skills and interests are aligned to. 

When should I apply for graduate schemes? 

You can start applying for graduate schemes when you are in your final year of university or if you have already graduated.

If you have already graduate graduated, check out our post entitled: “Am I too old for graduate schemes“.

Generally, Graduate scheme applications open between September and February.

However, this will depend on the company. A few companies open their graduate applications from as early as august and others have theirs open after February. Some companies have rolling recruitment.

Regardless of the deadlines, it’s a good idea to apply as early as possible as places on graduate schemes are highly competitive. 

Here’s a video on Shell’s graduate scheme application process:

What should I do if I miss the deadline to apply for graduate schemes? 

If you are really interested in a particular company or industry, but you’ve missed the deadline, generally, you can apply the following year. 

In the meantime, it is a good idea to gain work experience in the form of taking a different graduate job, or doing internships. Doing so will help to strengthen your application. 

Are graduate schemes just for recent graduates? 

Some graduate recruiters specifically state that their schemes are designed for candidates who have graduated within the past year for example. 

However, many of the graduate schemes are open to all candidates with a degree. 

It is a misconception that you’ve missed the boat if you aren’t successful in getting a graduate scheme in your final year of university.

You can generally apply (or reapply) for graduate schemes once you have graduated.

If you are unsure about your suitability for a graduate scheme, speak to the graduate recruitment team for the company you are interested in. 

What are the entry requirements for graduate schemes? 

Typically, graduate recruiters ask for a minimum of a 2:1 degree. 

However, it is important to note that the entry requirements will vary depending on the company.

As well as asking for a certain degree classification, some graduate schemes require a specific degree. For example, some technical roles require a degree in a STEM-related subject. 

However, for a large number of graduate roles, a degree in a specific field isn’t required. For example, for graduate programs in law, investment banking and accounting you do not need a specific degree. 

This is because you’ll be supported to undertake training and professional qualifications on the job. 

Can I apply for graduate schemes if I got a 2:2 in my degree? 

Yes, there are a number of graduate schemes that do not have a 2:1 as a minimum requirement.

For example, the civil service and Tescos have a minimum requirement of a 2:2 classification. 

If you faced extenuating circumstances during your degree which resulted in you not achieving your academic potential, speak to the graduate recruitment team. 

Can I apply for a grad scheme if I’m an international student? 

International students can apply for a tier 2 visa.

A tier 2 visa allows a registered company to employ an international student in the UK for up to 5 years.

International students must secure employment before your tier 4 visa runs out.

If you are an international student hoping to secure work in the UK after your degree, get in touch with us as we may be able to give you some advice.

Do my A-level grades matter?

Some companies ask for specific A-levels or a certain number of UCAS points.

If there is an A-level requirement, it will ask for your top three A-levels completed within your first sitting. 

However, in recent years some companies have decided to drop their A-level requirements.

If you experienced extenuating circumstances during your A-levels, be sure to contact the graduate recruitment teams at the companies you are interested in applying to. 

What is the application process for graduate schemes like?

Generally, most graduate scheme applications follow this process:

Online application

The online application may require you to fill out your basic information and upload your CV and cover letter. Some companies will ask some questions to assess your motivations.

Online tests

Some graduate schemes ask candidates to complete online tests. These are traditionally psychometric tests however recently some companies have introduced Pymetric tests. 

Digital/video interview

Graduate recruiters are increasingly using video interviews as a part of their application process. 

There are two main types of video interviews: live video interviews and recorded video interviews.

Assessment centre

Assessment centres are usually held at the final stage of the application process. The candidates who are successful at this stage will be offered a place on the graduate scheme.

At an assessment centre, you can be expected to take part in group exercises and face-to-face interviews. 

Check out our post on when to apply for graduate schemes.

What happens if you decide that you don’t want to work there?

That’s fine, you won’t be obligated to take a job offer after the end of the graduate training scheme. 

Can Graduate Coach help me to get a graduate scheme?

Yes! We have helped over 500 final year students and graduates to get places on graduate schemes.

We have helped our coaching candidates to get into PwC, Deloitte, Facebook,  Google, Amazon, Goldmann Sachs, JP Morgan, Network Rail and many more. Find out more about our successes here.

As well as helping many graduates to secure places at the large companies above, we have also helped several grads to get jobs within smaller companies

We have created several resources designed to help graduates to get a grad scheme. These include:

Two published books: The Student Book and The Graduate Book
Online courses, for example, our Nail that interview course
One-to-one coaching programmeInterview training

Depression after university [beat the graduate blues]

Experiencing depression after university is a lot more common than you may think. So if you are suffering from post-university depression you are not alone and help is available. 

You’re not alone         

If you’ve got a case of graduate blues, it is important to know that you are not alone. 

Many other graduates are in the same boat as you. 

In fact, there’s an interesting post on the BBC news site entitled “graduates ‘need mental health support’”.

The article features a recent graduate who experienced a low period after graduating, moving back home and struggling to find a job after university

Cosmopolitan has also written a post on post-university depression where they feature a graduate reporting similar feelings. She graduate explains going from feeling elated about earning her degree to being abruptly thrown into the real world. 

Why are you feeling this way 

Here are three reasons why you might be experiencing depression after university: 

  • Adapting to change can be uncomfortable
  • The fear of the unknown is making you feel down
  • Your friends seem to have it all together

Let’s delve into each of these reasons a bit more.

Dealing with change after university

Everyone adapts to change differently. 

Finishing your degree and moving back home is a huge change. 

For the past 3-4 years of your life, you’ve been following a timetable, hanging out with uni friends and in a way living in the student bubble. 

Once you’ve celebrated your graduation and settled into adulthood, it will be time to enter the working world and start your graduate career. 

Fearing the unknown after university

Leaving university presents a big question – what will you do next? Many graduates report feeling lost after graduation.

Not knowing what your next steps are, and feeling the pressure of earning money can make some graduates feel down. 

Up until now, education has provided structure, routine and security. You knew exactly what was expected of you and what you needed to do in order to succeed.

Essentially, it became your comfort zone and now you that have vanished. 

If you need help figuring out your next steps after university, check out our graduate coaching programme.

Comparing yourself to your friends 

In this social media age, it is difficult to not start comparing your life to the life others present on social media. 

If it seems as though all of your friends are thriving in great graduate jobs and having a good time whilst you are at home desperately filling out job applications it can make you feel down. 

But it is important to put this into perspective and stay focused on your own journey. 

What help is available for graduates experiencing depression after university? 

Depression can be classified as being mild, moderate or severe. 

First of all, if you are worried about your mental health and are struggling, get help. 

Your GP will be able to advise you on your treatment options. You can also find out more about clinical depression on the NHS website.  

What can I do to improve my mood? 

There are quite a few different things that you can do to lift your mood. 

Stay active 

beat depression after university

If you have moved back home and you haven’t yet started working, don’t just sit at home watching the days go by. 

Make a habit of going out for a walk or going to the gym to stay active. 

Exercise has been shown to help people who are struggling with depression. Many people report that exercise helps them to feel good.

If you are suffering from post-graduation blues, get active. You could join your local gym, jog around your area or even do gentle exercises at home.

Maintain your social life 

It was a see you later, not goodbye when you parted ways with your university friends!

A lot of students make lifelong friends during their time at university. 

Now that you have left university, it is important not to isolate yourself. 
Be sure to spend time with family, friends and your support network.

Even though you may have very different schedules to your friends, schedule in some time to meet up and do something that you enjoy. 

Get help with securing the right graduate job for you. 

Not knowing what career path is right for you after university can be distressing. 

Applying for job after job with no success can be discouraging. 

Continually failing interviews can have a negative impact on your confidence and self-esteem. 

If you are experiencing any of the above, it’s time to get some help. 

Here at Graduate Coach, we help students and recent graduates to secure their dream jobs. 

We’ve helped hundreds of graduates who have experienced feeling down after university due to not being able to find a job.

We have also helped graduates who finished uni years ago and have been underemployed in jobs that did not require a degree. We also help graduates who have found themselves being unemployed after uni.

We offer a wide range of services including: 

  • Online courses
  • Books
  • One-to-one coaching
  • Interview coaching

We also have a wide range of resources that have been designed to help students, graduates and career changers. 

Can your university help? 

In 2017 the student mental health charity, Student Minds distributed a press release stating that universities could do more to prepare students for the transition out of university. 

With that said, as alumni, your university might be able to help you.

Universities have resources for helping people with a wide range of mental health issues.

It is worth finding out more about the alumni services and network at your university.

Depression after university: summary

The transition from education to employment can be easy for some and extremely difficult for others. 

If you find that you are experiencing a mild bout of depression after university, try some of the self-help tips in this post. 

If you are particularly concerned about your mental health, visit your GP who will be able to advise you. 

Help is available and you don’t need to go through this alone. 

Remember to get in touch with us if you are struggling with your graduate job hunt!

We’ll help you to transition from education to the world of work successfully.

Tips for parents of university students

You are so proud of them! They worked so hard at college and earnt themselves a place at university! Packing your son or daughter off to university can be an exciting but slightly daunting time. Here are some tips for parents of university students.

1: Encourage them to focus on their employability as well as their academics

Whilst it is a distressing statistic, 48% of graduates never secure a graduate-level job and remain underemployed in jobs that do not require a degree.

We conducted a surveyed of 1500 graduates to find out why they struggled to get a graduate job

The survey revealed that:
90% found it difficult to work out what job was right for them
86% found it hard to write a graduate CV
85% find interviews difficult and nerve-wracking
85% admitted needing work experience before entering the workforce

Your son or daughter can increase their chances of successfully securing a graduate-level job after university by working on their employability whilst they study.

Action points:

-Encourage your son or daughter to get work experience and/or internships and a part-time job.

-Purchase a copy of The Student Book for them. It outlines everything you need to know to get the job you really want.
A degree alone is no longer enough to secure a graduate-level job.

Graduate recruiters expect graduates to leave university with the following 6 skills:

  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Organisation and planning
  • Problem-solving
  • Professionalism
  • Using your own initiative

Gaining work experience will help your son or daughter, to be able to clearly demonstrate and articulate that they have skills useful for the workplace. This will boost their employability.

For more information, visit our page dedicated to parents.

We’ve put this as the first tip for parents of university students because employability is often overlooked.

2: Understand the academic support available to them

Most graduate schemes have a minimum entry requirement of a 2:1 degree.

Employers still do value academic achievement however, it is important to also gain experience as explained above.

Many students say that “first year doesn’t count” as the grades achieved in the first year doesn’t contribute to the final degree classification.

However, working hard in first year will help them to build a strong foundation for their second and final year at university.

First year is a good opportunity for students to develop the academic skills required for higher education such as researching and referencing.

If your son or daughter is having trouble adapting to their university studies remind them that they can:

Tips for parents of university students

-Visit their academic support centre.

Most universities have an academic support centre as well as a section on their website dedicated to academic support.

They will provide help with research skills, writing skills, study skills etc.

-Speak with the staff at their university’s library

The library staff can help students to locate books and resources related to their course.

If your son or daughter requires assistive technology, the library staff may also be able to help your son or daughter with that too.

-Attend office hours

Office hours will give your son or daughter the opportunity to speak with their lecturers face to face. If they are struggling with a particular area of their course attending office hours can be beneficial.

-Get the right support if they have or think they have learning difficulties

The disability services centre at your son or daughter’s university can help them to get the support they need.

3: Encourage them to be all-rounders

As well as a strong academic record and work experience, employers will be interested in your son or daughter’s extracurricular activities.

Encourage them to take up leadership positions for societies that they are interested in.

Other activities such as taking part in a sport, volunteering, learning a language or playing a musical instrument will help your son or daughter to stand out when it comes to applying for graduate jobs.

Furthermore, taking part in these additional activities will help them to get the most out of their time at university.

Whilst they may find the academic element of their university overwhelming at times, it is important that they manage their time effectively and pursue various other activities as employers will look for evidence of this.

4: What to do if your child wants to change course

If it is still early on in the term it may be easy to switch to another course. Advise them to book an appointment with their programme leader to see if they can switch to another course.

Unless your son or daughter wants to go into a vocational profession such as nursing, changing their degree subject shouldn’t have a major impact on their employability as many graduate programmes do not require a specific degree subject.

If your son or daughter is studying something that they enjoy, they may feel more motivated to work harder, increasing their chances of achieving higher grades.

5: Give them the space to settle into university life

Your son or daughter might be leaving home for the first time. This can be quite nerve-wracking for both parents and students.

Give them some space for the first few weeks to settle into their new lifestyle.

If you do want to check in, remind them to do important tasks that they might overlook such as registering to the local GP.

Tips for parents of university students: summary

We hope that these tips for parents of university students are useful.

The key takeaway from this post is to ensure that your son or daughter actively works on improving their employability whilst they are at university.

Before you go, here are 5 tips for parents of university students from a parents perspective by Leicester university.

1 year after graduation no job – What should I do?

So you graduated a year ago, and despite sending out several applications, you haven’t been able to secure yourself a graduate job. 

In this post, we’ll share some advice on what you can do if you have no job 1 year after graduation. 

 Don’t panic – help is available

If it’s been one year since you graduated and you haven’t found a job yet it can feel pretty disheartening. 

After all, you invested a lot of time and money into getting your degree. 

First of all, if you are in this situation, don’t worry. You haven’t missed the boat. 

You can still land your dream graduate job.  

It can be easy to compare yourself to your friends, especially if they all seem to be in great jobs. However, it is important to not compare yourself and focus on your own journey. 

This will be the main focus of this blog post – helping you to get on the career path that is right for you. 

Here at Graduate Coach, we have helped hundreds of graduates that come to us 1 year after graduation with no job. So if you need some help and personalised career guidance, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. 

Reflect on what you have done so far

Point number 1 is important because we see graduates who get themselves in a panic and start applying for any job vacancies they find. 

This is a poor strategy for finding a job because graduate recruiters are trained to spot genuine motivation. 

If you are just applying to get yourself a job so that you can start earning money, the interviewer will be able to tell. 

So if you have been “panic applying” stop. 

Take some time to reflect on the past year since you graduated and your time at university. 

The whole point of reflecting is to get you thinking about your interests and skills so that you can start to narrow down your job search. 

On a piece of paper or in a word document, write down all of your non-academic experiences These will help you to stand out from other candidates. 

Did you play an instrument? Take part in a sport? Run a society? Gain work experience? Volunteer? 

If so, these are all excellent accomplishments!

Write down the skills you gained from these activities. 

Also, think about what you enjoyed doing most during your time at university. 

Did you love working on group assignments? Or did you enjoy working with numbers? Perhaps you really liked carrying out research your essays? 

Have you developed any new interests in the past few years? Perhaps you are passionate about technology, or leadership. 

Write down anything you think of as this will come in handy in the next steps of this post. 

Complete a skills audit

A skills audit is an assessment of the skills that you currently have. 

Even if you don’t know what you want to do yet, doing a skills audit will prove to be beneficial. This is because regardless of the graduate job you apply for, all recruiters will look for the following 6 key skills in graduates: 

  1. Communication
  2. Team Work
  3. Organising and planning
  4. Problem-solving
  5. Professionalism
  6. Working on your own initiative 

Using the examples you listed in step 2, for each of the above skills write down an example of how you can demonstrate that you have those skills. 

Remember, even if you don’t have a large volume of work experience, you’ll still be able to complete this task. You can draw upon your non-academic experience. 

Get into the habit of answering your questions in a STAR format. 

STAR is an acronym for:

  • Situation 
  • Task
  • Action
  • Result 

It is a way of concisely articulating your competencies. 

The reason why we advise you to get into the habit of using the STAR method from now is that it will come in very handy in your interviews. 

Think of it this way, if you are asked in an interview to tell me about a time where you had to work as part of a team, (Which is a skill that all graduate recruiters will look for)  you’ll have a concise, powerful answer ready that you won’t need to memorise. 

Identify the problem

Now that you have spent some time thinking about your skills, non-academic experiences and your interests it is time to work out what is holding you back. 

When graduates come to us 1 year after graduation with no job, there tends to be four main things holding them back. 

  • They haven’t got a clue about what to do after university.
  • They’ve been sending out several applications but not progressing to the interview stage.
  • They keep failing during the interview stage.
  • After 1 year of job searching, they have started to lose confidence or self-esteem

Identify what it is that is holding you back then work towards the solutions. 

Don’t know what to do after university

Some graduates remain unemployed for a year after graduation because they are confused about their career path.

If you haven’t got a clue about what to do, read our post on CV-Library about how to discover your career path after university

There are a lot of different graduate job titles so it can be really confusing if you do not know what to do. 

That’s why it is important to understand what your career typology is because that will narrow down your search. 

There are three career typologies for graduates:

Specialists – these graduates are hired for their specialist knowledge in a subject such as Doctors, nurses or pharmacists. 

Knowledge Architects – these graduates are hired for their ability to analyse data and draw valuable insights from it. Examples of graduate job titles for knowledge architects are: consultants, finance, business analysts etc. 

Communicators – these graduates are hired for there ability to communicate important information and to develop and maintain profitable business relationships. Examples include sales, marketing and PR roles. 

Which one of these career typologies do you identify with most? 

Once you’ve identified this, you’ll be able to narrow down your job search significantly. 

Not getting any interviews

If you’ve been applying for several jobs but not getting any interviews, it’s time to revisit your CV.

Your CV needs to convince employers that you have what it takes to excel in the role you’ve applied for. 

Therefore, it is important that you tailor your CV to every application. 

Your CV is not one size fits all. 

Writing your first graduate CV can be difficult. 

However, based on what you have learnt so far in this blog post, you’ll be able to write an achievement-based CV. 

You must highlight the skills that you have gained from your work experience or non-academic experiences.  

It is a good idea to refer to the job description listed on the job vacancy to see what skills are required and then demonstrating that you have those specific skills on your CV. 

To find out more about how to write an achievement-based CV, grab yourself a copy of The Student Book. 

In The Student Book we’ve got a section that is dedicated to writing an achievement-based CV. We have even included several examples of some excellent graduate CVs. 

Keep failing interviews

1 year after graduation no job

If you keep failing your interviews, you’ll need to brush up on your interview skills. 

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you have been failing your interviews. 

Performing highly in interviews is an art and a science. 

There are some basic tips and tricks that you should know if you want to perform highly in interviews. 

In addition to what you need to know about interviews, in order to get really good at interviews, you must practise. 

Here at Graduate Coach, we have condensed all of our expertise and learnings gained over the past 10 years to create our Nail That Interview course

You can access the introduction and module 1 of the course for free. 

Confidence level has dipped

If it’s been 1 year after graduation and you still haven’t been able to find a job, it could have started to take a toll on your confidence. 

If it has, it’s important to keep building it back up as confidence plays a vital role in helping you to get a job. 

If you are not confident in yourself, why should the employer be confident in you? 

If you have lost your confidence from continually being rejected from jobs, you might want to consider getting some one-to-one career coaching with an experienced graduate coach. 

1 year after graduation no job – Summary 

We hope that you have found this post on what to do if you are still looking for a job one year after university helpful. 

Remember, you haven’t missed the boat and you can still land your dream graduate job. 

Whilst it may have been a difficult year, you will have had the time to think about the type of graduate job that is right for you. 

If you’ve been unemployed for a year after graduation, get in touch with us.

Benefits of online career counselling for graduates

Are you unsure of what career is right for you? Do you want to progress rapidly in your career? If the answer to one of those questions is yes, you’ll definitely benefit from some online career counselling

What is online career counselling? 

Online career counselling involves consuming online resources that are designed to help you to secure and thrive in the right job that is tailored to your skills and interests. 

The beauty of online career counselling is that it allows you to digest content at your own pace and reflect upon how you’ll implement what you have learnt. 

What online career counselling resources do you offer at Graduate Coach? 

Here at Graduate Coach, we offer a wide variety of online career counselling resources designed for students, graduates and career changers.

Here’s a list of our online career counselling resources:

The Graduate Coach blog:

We have a wide range of blog posts covering topics relating to interview tips, job applications, career advice and more.

You can check out our blog here

Graduate Coach YouTube channel:

Our YouTube channel has a vast range of videos created by the founder of Graduate Coach, Chris Davies.

Check out our YouTube channel here and don’t forget to subscribe! 

Ebooks:

We have two ebooks: The Student Book and The Graduate Book

The Student Book contains everything you need to know to get the job you really want. The Graduate Book outlines everything you need to know to do really well at work. 

Both of these books are available in Kindle and hardback formats. 

Online courses:

We take a two-pronged approach to our career coaching programmes.

Most of our coaching includes an element of online career counselling combined with a face-to-face element. 

The Nail that interview course brings together all the learnings we have gained over the past decade into 8 hours of content.

Find out more about our online interview course here.

Here are some of the benefits of online career counselling.

1: Helps you to discover your career path

Many graduates struggle to find a job after university

One of the reasons why many graduates struggle is because they don’t know what to do after university. 

There are several different graduate job titles on the market and it can become quite confusing if you are not sure of what career path to embark on.

Online counselling sessions can help students, graduates and career changers to discover what career is right for them and help them to make an informed career choice. 

We have an online course called: Discover your career path. The course helps candidates to identify their skills, interests and ambitions and to understand their career typology. 

Here’s a post on how to discover your career path after university that is published on CV-Library.

2: Gain lifelong skills 

Mastering:

-The art of performing highly in interviews is a skill that many people neglect.


-How to identify your skills 

Write an achievement-based CV 

Are all lifelong skills that will be beneficial throughout your entire career and working life.

Many of the candidates who have benefitted from our career counselling online have told us that was a short term investment for long term success.

3: Increases the chance of getting a graduate job

It’s a distressing fact, but 48% of graduates never secure a graduate-level job and remain underemployed.

We conducted some research to identify why graduates struggle to get graduate-level jobs. Here’s what our research uncovered:

-Determining what job they should do

-Writing an effective CV

-Being successful in an interview 

Career counselling is designed to address all of the struggles outlined above and more.

4: Helps you to thrive in the workplace

For many graduates starting their first job after university can be very daunting.

We equip graduates with everything they need to know to perform highly in their career.

If you want to learn how to do really well in the workplace, get yourself a copy of The Graduate Book.

online career counselling

Benefits of online career counselling for graduates: summary


Many students progress through their time in formal education without ever seeing career counsellors. 

Without any guidance, it can be really difficult for grads to navigate different career options.

Through counselling and coaching graduates for the past decade, we have shown how beneficial it can be in helping candidates to thrive in their early careers. 

Find out more about how we have successfully helped 500+ students and graduates over the past decade. 

Speak to a career consultant today!
Book an appointment with the Founder of Graduate Coach, Chris Davies.

Feeling lost after graduation? Here’s what you can do

It is quite normal to feel lost after graduation. A few months ago, you couldn’t wait until your exams were over and now you are wondering where all the time went. 

Now that you are a graduate, there will be lots of new opportunities to look forward to and important decisions to make. 

In this post, we’ll share some tips on how you can beat that feeling of being lost after graduation. We’ll also share some tips on what you can do to get your career off to a great start! 

1) Remember that it is completely normal to feel lost after graduation

The student lifestyle is like none other. 

For the past few years, your life has been centred around essay deadlines, maintaining an active social life and getting to lectures on time. 

All of that came to an abrupt end and now you have a lot of things to think about regarding your future. 

It is completely normal to feel lost after graduation because you are experiencing a massive change in your lifestyle.

However, this feeling will fade away as you adjust to your new lifestyle as a graduate. 

2) Don’t compare yourself to your friends 

Feeling lost after graduation? Here’s what you can do

I know it can be difficult not to compare yourself to your friends, but remember, you are on your own journey. 

Whilst all of your friends might have graduated and seem as though they have ‘their lives together’ you’ll never know what they are going through. 

If you feel as though everyone else has landed a great graduate job and you are at home twiddling your thumbs, now is a good time to start your graduate job search. 

3) Reflect on your time at university

Whether you’ve recently graduated from your undergraduate or postgraduate studies, you’ll have a lot to reflect on. 

Take some time to think about what you really enjoyed doing when you were at university.

Was it working in a group? 

Did you particularly enjoy being the president of a society?

Also, take some time to reflect on any work-related experiences you may have gained. Think about the skills you gained from it.

What did you absolutely hate about university? Maybe you disliked writing long essays? Whatever it was bare it in mind and think about why you disliked it. 

4) Write down your skills and interests 

Now that you have taken some time to reflect on your time at university, write down all of the skills that you have gained. 

Use the STAR method to write out examples of how you have been able to demonstrate these skills during your academic studies or your work experience. 

The STAR method is an acronym for:

  • Situation
  • Task
  • Action
  • Result 

It is a good idea to practise using the STAR method because it will come in handy during your upcoming interviews for graduate jobs. 

Also, note down any interests you gained whilst you were at university. Maybe you became fascinated by technology, or maybe finance has piqued your interest. 

5) Match your skills against the 6 key skills that all employers will look for in graduates.

 Even if you do not have any work experience yet, you’ll be able to use examples from your time at university. 

The 6 key employability skills for graduates are:

  • Communication
  • Team Work
  • Organising and planning
  • Problem-solving
  • Professionalism
  • Working on your own initiative 

Using the STAR method, write out examples of how you are able to demonstrate each of those skills. 

6) Work out your career typology 

Most graduates aren’t aware of this, but all graduate jobs can be categorised into three key areas:

  • Knowledge architects
  • Communicators
  • Specialists

Graduates who are knowledge architects are hired for their ability to analyse data and draw valuable insights from them. Examples include management consultants or accountants. 

Communicators are employed to build and maintain profitable relationships. Examples include sales and marketing roles. 

Specialists make up only around 10% of graduates. These graduates are hired primarily for there specialist knowledge in a particular field. Many specialists study vocational courses at university such as medicine, or nursing. 

Knowing your career typology will help you to narrow down what types of graduate jobs. This will help you massively if you are feeling lost after graduation.

Once you know that you are a communicator, for instance, you’ll be able to focus your job search on communicator roles. 

7) Put together your graduate CV 

The idea of putting together your graduate CV may seem daunting. This is especially the case if you feel as though you do not have much work experience. 

However, don’t put it off, because you’ll want to have a solid CV that you can easily tailor if a graduate opportunity comes up. 

In our book, The Student Book, we have dedicated a whole section to writing your first graduate CV and included several examples of great graduate CVs. 

Get yourself a copy of The Graduate Book either in hardback or ebook. 

8) Start applying for graduate-level jobs 

As you have invested all that time and money into getting a degree, you’ll probably want to get a graduate job that has great prospects. 

Now that you understand what your skills and interests are and what your career typology is, you can start thinking about sending off some job applications. 

If you don’t follow the process outlined above and rush into applying for graduate jobs you may end up feeling confused and even more lost after graduation.

Here at Graduate Coach, we have helped over 500 students and graduates to secure graduate positions at a large number of the top graduate employers including PwC, JP Morgan, Facebook and many more. 

If you find yourself struggling to find a graduate job after university, get in touch with us.

9) Keep in touch with your friends from university 

Many people gain lifelong friends at university. 

Maintaining these friendships will is a great idea. 

Even if you have all moved away, take the time to meet up. Some graduates move home and isolate themselves which contributes to them feeling lost after graduation or even depressed

Maintaining a healthy social life is good for your mental health and wellbeing. 

Keeping in touch with people from your course is a good way to build up your professional network. 

You never know what companies they will work at in the future and they may prove to be a useful connection. Add them on LinkedIn and other social media platforms. 

10) Make the time to pursue new activities and interests 

Now that you have finished university, you may have some extra time on your hands. 

Use this time wisely to pursue activities that you may have put on hold during your studies. 

We have helped many people who have felt lost after university to discover their career path and launch successful careers.

How to get a graduate job with no experience

So, you’ve bagged yourself a degree, and now you want to land yourself a graduate job. The only thing is, you have no experience. Don’t worry, because in this post, we will tell you how to get a graduate job with no experience.

1: Reflect on your time at university 

You may actually have a lot more experience than you think!

Perhaps you feel as though you do not have any relevant work experience to the types of graduate job that you’d like to apply for.

However, you will have gained some transferable skills from taking part in other activities that will be valuable to employers.

Here are some activities you may have taken part in during your time at university:

  • Work shadowing

some universities have work shadowing schemes that allow students to shadow members of staff in different departments or arrange for students to take part in work shadowing experiences with local businesses. Maybe you arranged to shadow a professional in a work environment.

  • Volunteering

have you taken part in any volunteering activities at, or outside of university? Volunteering can help you to develop a wide variety of skills.

Furthermore, as you start your job search you may realise that a lot of the companies that you are interested in may encourage employees to volunteer for a few days every year. If a company has a culture that promotes giving back to the local community, your volunteering experience may be impressive to potential employers.

  • Leadership roles within university societies

Have you held any leadership positions within a society at your university?

It can be extremely difficult to balance running a society with your academics. Doing so requires time management and organisational skills which are relevant skills to all graduate roles.

Even if you wasn’t the president or vice president of a society, any role you took that helped to run the society will be relevant.

  • Sports

There are lots of opportunities to take part in sports at university.

Most sports require developing teamwork skills which will be relevant for all graduate jobs or graduate schemes that you apply for.

  • Maintaining a part-time job

Did you have a part-time job whilst you were studying? if so, you will have gained relevant experiences that will prove to be valuable for your graduate position.

  • Course-related experiences

University courses are designed to help students to develop skills that will be useful for the workplace.

Your course probably required you to take part in group assignments, presentations, essays and reports and more.

If you took part in an activity as part of your course that helped you to develop some specific skills, that can also count as experience.

Key takeaway

Don’t dismiss any previous experience that you have gained just because you may feel that it is not relevant.

Recruiters will understand that for their graduate and entry-level positions, candidates may not have a lot of experience that is directly related to the role. However, they will be interested in what skills you have gained and developed from the experiences you do have.

Remember, your unique combination of experiences is what makes you stand out from the crowd!

Conduct a Skills Audit

Now that you have reflected on your time at university, it’s time to conduct a skills audit.

Write down all of the skills that you have gained from the activities you took part in during university.

No matter what types of graduate jobs you apply for, all graduate recruiters will look for the following 6 skills:

  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Organisation and planning
  • Problem-solving
  • Professionalism
  • Using your own initiative

For each of the skills listed above, draw upon the experiences gained at university to demonstrate that you have those skills.

This exercise will be helpful when it comes to filling out job applications and preparing for interviews.

After conducting an audit of your skills, identify what your career typology is.

All graduate jobs can be categorised into three groups:

  • Communicators
  • Knowledge architects
  • Specialists

Check out our post on CV-Library called How to discover your career path for more information on career typologies and identifying which of the three career typologies you belong to.

Once you have identified your career typology, you’ll be able to easily create a shortlist of jobs with job descriptions suited to your skills and interests.

Key takeaway

Employers will be looking for evidence that graduates are able to solve problems, communicate, work as a team organise themselves, act professional and use their own initiative. Even if you do not have any formal work experience, you should be able to demonstrate that you have those 6 key skills.

Improve your CV

Once you have a better understanding of your experiences, skills and career typology, you can start working on your CV.

By this point, it won’t be a case of writing a CV with no experience.

All of the activities that you listed in step one can all be added to your CV.

The key is to write an achievement-based CV.

We have put together a wide range of resources on how to write an achievement-based CV

There’s a whole section on it in The Student Book which contains everything you need to know to get the job you really want.

We also collaborated with Chris Pennington from Your CV Consultant which outlines 4 tips on writing a winning graduate CV.

Applications and interviews

Now that you have your CV ready and you have narrowed down a list of suitable careers, you can start sending your applications.

Whilst sending out your applications keep a spreadsheet containing a list of the companies you have applied to and any feedback that you get.

The application process for graduate jobs usually involves:

  • submitting an online form
  • completing online tests i.e psychometric tests
  • a telephone or video interview
  • an assessment centre with group tasks and a face to face interview

Graduate job interviews might seem daunting if you feel as though you haven’t got any work experience that is directly relevant to the role. However, as we discovered in step 1, you will have gained experiences during your time at university that employers will be very interested in.

Being able to perform highly in interviews is a lifelong skill.

Here at Graduate Coach, we have been helping students and graduates to prepare for interviews for over a decade now. We offer one to one interview coaching and we have an online interview course called Nail that interview.

Build and maintain your network

When it comes to knowing how to get a graduate job with “no experience” networking will come in very handy.

First of all, ensure that your social media profiles are fully optimised, especially your LinkedIn profile.

Keep an eye out for networking events hosted by the companies you are interested in. Also, find out if there are any upcoming graduate career fairs.

Attending career fairs will give you the opportunity to meet graduate recruiters in person.

Be sure to dress to impress and be able to confidently articulate who you are and what you are looking for.

How to get a graduate job with no experience

Get help

If you have read this post and are still unsure of how to get a graduate job with no experience, get in touch with us!

We are here to help!

We offer a wide range of services designed to help students, graduates and career changers to turn their degrees into careers.

So far our coaching and careers advice has helped over 500 people! Check out our successes!

How to get a graduate job with no experience: Summary

We hope you have found this post on how to get a graduate job with no experience valuable!

The chances are, even though you may feel as though you do not have any work experience, you probably have! Remember, at this stage in your career, it’s not necessarily about having a ton of highly relevant experience.

Graduate recruiters will be looking for the skills that you have gained from the experiences you do have. Even if these experiences have been gained from extracurricular activities.

Unemployed after uni? Here’s what to do

The idea of being unemployed after uni is every graduate’s worst fear.

After all, you’ve invested a lot of time and money into getting a degree with the intention of getting a graduate job afterwards. 

If you have been sending out applications but not getting invited to many interviews or if you have been continually failing interviews, read this blog post.

We will explain what you can do if you find yourself being unemployed after uni.

So without further ado, let’s get started!

Stop “Panic applying” for jobs. Get strategic with your job search

We see this all too often, graduates ‘panic apply’ for multiple jobs and get discouraged when their applications are unsuccessful.

In a state of panic, we make rash decisions.

Finding a graduate job needs to be an informed decision.

Ultimately you want to find the right graduate job for you.

If you’ve been ‘panic applying’ for jobs and just hoping that you’ll get lucky, stop.

It may feel stressful being an unemployed graduate. Your friends may have started great graduate jobs and perhaps you are living at home and your parents are on your case about getting a job. However, try not to let this get to you too much.

There is a much more strategic approach you can take to boost your chances of getting more interviews and more job offers.

The following steps will explain how you can be more strategic when it comes to applying for jobs.

Discover your career path

Lots of graduates don’t have a clue when it comes to knowing what to do after university.

So if you are unsure of what career is right for you, don’t worry. This is very normal.

However, you will have a set of skills and a range of interests that can help you to determine what career path might be the right fit for you.

Also, remember if you don’t find your dream job early on in your career, that is absolutely fine. Sometimes you need to gain a variety of experiences in the workplace and work out what you don’t like before you can work out what you love doing.

Here’s our tried and tested method to help you to discover what career path might be right for you:

Identify your skills

First of all, it is a great idea to write down all of the skills that you have developed since you started university.

You may have gained these skills from:

  • Employment (full-time or part-time)
  • Work experience, placements, internships or shadowing
  • Volunteering
  • Extracurricular activities

For each of the skills you identify, use the STAR method to demonstrate how you have demonstrated that skill.

Regardless of the graduate job you end up getting, the recruiter will be looking for evidence of communication skills, problem-solving skills, teamwork skills, the ability to use your initiative, organisational skills and professionalism.

Work out your career typology

Not many people are aware of this, but all grad jobs can be categorised into 3 main categories:

  • Communicators
  • Knowledge architects
  • Specialists

To find out more about these career typologies and how you can work out what your career typology is, check out this post that we wrote for CV-Library on how to discover your career path after university.

Create a shortlist of suitable graduate jobs

Once you have assessed your skills and you have identified your career typology, the next thing to do is to come up with a list of suitable graduate jobs roles. Be sure to read the job descriptions carefully.

Work on your graduate CV

If you have followed our advice so far, you’ll be in a much better position to start preparing to apply for graduate jobs.

The next step is to brush up your graduate CV.

The aim of your CV is to convince the recruiter to invite you for an interview. Think of it as a sales pitch.

We’ve put together 4 of the best tips for writing a graduate CV.

Also, get yourself a copy of The Student Book. It has several examples of some excellent graduate CVs, plus tips on how to write an achievement-based CV.

You MUST tailor your CV to every application.

Make it your full-time job to find a graduate job

Many graduates who are unemployed after uni become discouraged.

Every day from 9am-5pm, work on boosting your employability.

Fill every day with activities that will help you to secure a graduate job.

This might involve activities such as taking online courses, attending networking events, finding work experience, interview preparation and sending off applications.

Doing these activities will help you to stay motivated and pro-active during your job search.

Unemployed after uni

Brush up on your interview skills

If you have been continually failing your interviews, have a read of our guest post on CV-Library called 4 reasons why you are failing your interviews.

The ability to outperform other candidates in interviews is a lifelong skill.

That’s why many of the candidates we have offered interview coaching to have gone on to state that they saw it as a short term investment for long term success.

We also offer an online interview course called Nail that Interview

Our interview coaching is designed to help you to restore your confidence and master the art of performing highly in interviews so that you can stop missing out on amazing job opportunities.

Get some help

Our careers services here at Graduate Coach are designed to help students and graduates to turn their degrees into careers.

We have helped several unemployed graduates to get their dream job, even if they graduated several years ago.

After helping graduates to get jobs we also equip them with everything they need to thrive in the real world of work so that they can start their early careers off to a great start.

Unemployed after uni: Summary

No graduate wants to be unemployed after uni but if you find yourself in this situation, don’t worry.

Whilst being unemployed after uni can be uncomfortable, if you are strategic about your job search, this stage of your journey can help you to make more informed career choices.

Good luck with your applications!

How to prepare for a video interview [Step-by-step]

Chances are, at some point during your graduate job search, you’ll be asked to complete a video interview. Naturally, you’ll want to excel in your video interview and successfully progress to the next stage of the interview process. So in this post, we’ll share our step-by-step guide on how to prepare for a video interview

Step 1: Understand the different types of video interviews 

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of how to prepare for a video interview, it is important to note that there are two main types of video interviews: 

1) Live video interviews

Live video interviews are often conducted via online video conferencing software such as Skype or Google Hangouts.

These videos are between you and a graduate recruiter or a member of the team you are applying to join.

It is likely to be quite similar to a telephone interview, but the interviewer will be able to pick up on more of your non-verbal communication skills.

2) Pre-Recorded video interviews

Recorded or one-sided interviews are increasing in popularity, so the chances are, you’ll be invited to take one at some point during your graduate job search. 

If you are asked to complete a recorded video interview, you’ll be sent a link to a video interview platform. 

The email will walk you through how to access the platform and begin your video interview recording.

You’ll be required to record your answers to the video interview questions within the time limit. 

For example, you’ll be asked a question such as “tell me about a time you had to work effectively as part of a team“.

You’ll then have a short period of time to think of your answer before recording it.

Step 2: Gather as much information as you can about the video interview.

Whilst there are two main types of video interview, your experience will be different for every company. 

Some video interviews are designed to get to know more about you as a person and are relatively informal. 

Others are more rigorous and are designed to see how you function under pressure. 

Before your video interview, find out what will be expected of you. 

You can find this information by doing the following: 

  • Reading the video interview invite very carefully. You’ll usually be sent an email inviting you to take a video interview. It is vital that you read through this email extremely carefully.

  • Re-visit the company’s website and navigate to the page outlining the details of the graduate job that you’ve applied for.

    On that page, you’ll usually find a section about the application process and specifically about the video interview stage.

  • Use websites like Glassdoor to read about other candidate’s interview experiences. This will give you a deeper insight into what to expect. 

When it comes to knowing how to prepare for a video interview, it is vital that you first find out as much as possible about the interview you have been invited to.

Step 3: Practise for your video interview

When it comes to knowing how to prepare for a video interview, practising is one of the most important steps. 

Knowing how to outperform other candidates being interviewed is a skill. 

However, most people are never taught this skill. 

There’s definitely an art and science behind excelling in interviews. 

Here at Graduate Coach, we have been providing interview training sessions for graduates for over a decade now. 

Chris Davies, Founder of Graduate Coach

If you are currently preparing for an interview for a job that you really want, we strongly urge you to contact us

We can help you in two ways: 

  • In-person

    You can book one-to-one interview coaching sessions with a graduate coach.

    Find out more about our in-person interview coaching here.

  • Online

    You can purchase our online interview course called Nail that Interview for just £99.

    The Nail that interview course condenses everything you need to know to succeed in your interviews into 8 hours of interactive content.

    Find out more about our online interview course here

As part of our interview preparation course, we can also arrange for you to take a mock recorded video interview.

This will involve taking part in a recorded mock interview. We will then review it and provide feedback until you gain more confidence and improve your interview technique.

If you will be having a live video interview, make sure that you are familiar with the video conferencing software that you’ll be required to use. Set up a test call with a friend to get familiar with the platform.

If you will be doing a recorded video interview, practise answering interview questions out loud and film your responses. Be prepared to answer questions related to your non-academic experience.

When watching the recording back assess your body language and the clarity of your answers.

Step 4: Find the best location to take your video interview


There’s a lot to take into consideration when it comes to deciding on the location where you’ll do your video interview.

Good internet connection

This is probably one of the most important factors to take into consideration when you are deciding where to take your video interview.

If your internet connection is poor the quality of the video call or video interview recording may be poor.

Video interview background

When it comes to the background of your video interview, keep it simple.

You don’t want the interviewer or the person reviewing your recorded video interview to get distracted by your background.

You want to be the main focus!

Therefore, ensure that your background will be clean, tidy and minimal.

Test out what your background will look like to the employer before you start your video interview by turning on your webcam and seeing what background works best.

Before you start your video interview, check that both your webcam and microphone are working correctly.

Check your camera and microphone

This is a vital check to avoid major problems during your video interview.

If you will be doing a recorded video interview, there might be a prompt before the interview to check your mic and webcam.

Position your camera so that it is at eye-level. You’ll want to ensure that you maintain good eye contact with the camera whilst giving your answers.

Good lighting

You want the interviewer or the person reviewing your recorded video interview to be able to see you clearly.

After all, they will be picking up on your non-verbal body language as well as your verbal responses.

Before your video interview, test the lighting to ensure that you can easily be seen.

You might want to use desk lighting if the room you are in is a bit dark.

If it is a sunny day, ensure that the sunlight isn’t casting shadows over you.

A quiet background without any potential distractions

It is really important that you find a quiet location to record your video interview.

Small background noises could potentially be picked up by your mic which could make it difficult for your voice to be heard.

As well as ensuring that your background is as quiet as possible, minimise any potential distractions. 

If you will be taking your video interview at home, be sure to inform your family members so that they do not interrupt your interview. 

Plan to take your video interview at a time where there is likely to be the least amount of distractions.

If possible, try not to take your video interview in a public place where you can’t control external factors such as lighting or potential distractions. 

Sit in a comfortable chair

During your video interview, it is important that you maintain good posture.

Slouching will make you come across as being less confident.

If you are using a computer chair, avoid swinging on the chair whilst talking, even if you feel nervous.

Male sitting in an office chair

Step 5: Dress appropriately for the company you are applying to

Wear what you would normally wear to an in-person interview. 

Even though only your head and shoulders will be on show, you want to make the right impression. 

Some companies require employees to wear business attire. Whilst Some companies allow employees to choose what they want to wear based on their own judgement. 

It is a good idea to research the company’s culture before the interview to get a good idea of what the employees wear. 

One way to get a sense of what the employees typically wear is to look at the images of staff members on the company’s website. 

Replicate what the employees typically wear. For example, if they wear smart clothing, dress smartly for your video interview.

Tips:

-Avoid bright colours and patterns and go for softer colours instead.

– If you are wearing a tie, wear a solid coloured tie.
-If you wear glasses, adjust the lighting in the room to reduce glare from the lenses.

Step 6: Make sure you have everything you might need nearby

Before your video interview starts, make sure that you have everything you might need nearby.

Check the video interview invite to see if it states that you’ll need anything in particular such as a calculator or a pen and paper. 

Here are some things you might want to have nearby during your video interview:

  • Notepad/paper and pen
  • A copy of your CV
  • Any notes you took whilst preparing for the interview.
  • Glasses if you may need them
  • A bottle of water
  • Laptop charger
  • Calculator

As well as making sure that you have everything that you might need around you, get rid of any potential distractions.

-Switch off your phone during your video interview

-Close any other tabs that you have open in your web browser

-Declutter the area that you will be taking your video intervie

Step 7: Prepare for unexpected events

With technology, there’s always a chance things could go wrong.

The interviewer understands that unexpected events may occur. They will be interested to see how you deal with such situations.

Many other posts on how to prepare for a video interview miss this very important point.

Here’s how to prepare for unexpected occurrences during your video interview.

  • What to do if your audio stops working

Tip: ask the interviewer for a number that you can reach them on if you get disconnected.

If the video cuts out, call them at that number.

Ask if you can continue the interview by phone or if you can reschedule at a later date.

 • How to handle unexpected noises

If noises (sirens, construction, etc.) interrupt your video interview, don’t just ignore it.

Apologise for the interruption and ask for a few moments until the noise has subsided.

You may want to mute the microphone if the noise is particularly loud or disruptive. 

If someone enters the room unexpectedly 

If someone enters the room while you’re interviewing:

-Let the  interviewer know what has happened
-Ask them for a few moments
-Mute your microphone and turn off your camera
-Deal with the interruption

Before the interview, find out who you’ll need to contact in the event of any technical difficulties.

Sometimes this information will be included in the video interview email invite or on the webpage outlining the application process.

Remember, unexpected events are sometimes unavoidable.

Your potential employer will be very interested to see how you deal with the situation because unexpected events occur in the workplace all the time. 

Knowing all about how to prepare for a video interview questions is one thing but preparing for the unexpected, what to wear and the equipment you may need is an important step.

How to ace a video interview by Vodafone

How to prepare for a video interview: summary

Video interviews are becoming much more popular. Most internship and graduate roles at large companies require candidates to complete one as part of the recruitment process.

Therefore, knowing how to prepare for a video interview is absolutely vital!

Whether it’s a video interview or a traditional face to face interview, preparation is key.

Surprisingly, people only spend on average 36 minutes preparing for an interview.

This is not enough time.

Preparing properly will help you to stand out amongst the other candidates.

Before your video interview, schedule in some time to practise answering questions. This will help you to refine your interview technique.

We hope you find these tips on how to prepare for your video interview helpful.

If you would like further support to prepare for your job interviews, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us

Before you go, if you enjoyed reading our post on how to prepare for a video interview, check out our graduate scheme application tips and our latest posts below.