6 Top Graduate Employability Issues

The competition for graduate jobs is fierce. As there is an overabundance of academically qualified graduates entering the graduate job market each year, employers are placing more emphasis on identifying and hiring the most workplace-ready candidates. 

These are graduates who have not only excelled academically but who have developed both hard and soft skills and can demonstrate how they have acquired them. 

Here at Graduate Coach, we have been coaching students and graduates for over a decade. During this time we have gained several insights into the main graduate employability issues and how to overcome them. 

In this post, we will outline 6 of the main graduate employability issues and explain what students and graduates can do to improve their employability and subsequently their career prospects. 

#1: Too much emphasis on academics 

A few years back, achieving a first or upper second class degree in an academic subject, from a prestigious university was enough to stand out from the crowd. 

Schools, sixth forms, universities and parents place a lot of emphasis on students achieving academic success. However, a degree alone is not enough to impress graduate recruiters. 

A minimum of a 2:1 degree is required by many graduate employers, but thousands of applicants will meet this criterion. 

Whilst a good degree from a good university looks good on paper, employers are extremely interested in candidate’s extracurricular activities and work experiences. 

In fact, several of the larger graduate employers in the UK such as professional services firm PwC have removed academic entry requirements, demonstrating how much value they place in what graduates can offer beyond a good academic record. 

Many bright graduates experience graduate employability issues such as finding it difficult to get their first job due to the fact that they thought their degree would be enough to convince a recruiter to hire them. 

Tip for students and graduates – ensure that you get good graduates, but also consider the fact that there are thousands of other graduates with the same academic credentials as you. Focus on what makes you unique outside of academia. This is what will make you stand out in the competitive graduate labour market. 

Photo by malcolm garret from Pexels

#2: Candidates lacking work experience 

One of the main graduate employability issues is that many students progress through their university life without getting any work experience. 

Graduate recruiters are tasked with the challenge of identifying candidates who:

  • Will be a great cultural fit and thrive in the company
  • Have the skills and competencies to excel in the role
  • Genuinely care about the company and what it is trying to achieve
  • Have the ability to learn quickly and acquire new skills 

It is not an easy feat to sift through thousands (sometimes tens of thousands) of applications to find ideal graduates with great potential. 

Graduates who have gained work experience in the form of short placements, internships, placement years or even shadowing will find it much easier to navigate their job search. 

This is because they will be able to draw on their experience to give evidence of their skills and competencies. 

Their achievements in the workplace will also help recruiters to get a sense of the candidates potential. 

Having experience will strengthen your candidacy throughout the entire graduate job application process. From having an achievement-based CV to being able to articulate your competencies confidently in interviews. 

#3: Lack of adequate careers advice  

Whilst all universities offer careers support to university students, it would be near impossible to give every student adequate careers advice. The advice from university careers centres is usually generic and not tailored to each individual student’s needs. 

Furthermore, many university students do not visit the career centre during their studies. 

This creates graduate employability issues as candidates leave university lacking direction and an understanding of what it takes to be highly employable. 

Here at Graduate Coach, we help students and graduates to boost their employability and land a good graduate job. We achieve this through career coaching, interview coaching, workshops, books and online courses. 

Further resources: 

➡️No idea what to do after uni [Here’s what to do]
➡️Confused about career after graduation [Help is here] 
➡️Help I’m struggling to find a job after university 
➡️1 year after graduation no job – what should I do 

Graduate Employability Issues graphic

#4: Not being taught how to interview 

There is an art and a science behind performing highly in interviews. 

Without being taught how to interview well, most graduates gradually get better at interviews over time, after being rejected several times. 

When graduates get rejected time after time whilst searching for a graduate job, it takes a toll on their self-esteem and confidence. Many graduates even report feeling depressed after graduation for this reason.

Graduate recruiters are seeking candidates who are able to confidently articulate their employability skills, experience and knowledge. It is a common misconception among graduates that their degree will impress recruiters. This is far from the truth. 

➡️ Why do I keep failing interviews? 
➡️Feeling sad after interviews: Dealing with post-interview blues

#5: Misunderstanding the nature of the graduate job market 

90% of graduates studied non-vocational subjects. Another misconception among graduates is that they will find a job in the field that is related to their degree. 

For example, many history graduates hope to find employment in a role related to History, or English Literature grads hope to find a related role. 

However, most graduate schemes and jobs do not specify a specific degree. 

The future of the graduate job market 

The demand for digitally-skilled graduates is increasing in the graduate job market. However, university courses have remained largely unchanged. 

Regardless of what you studied at university, it is worth developing your digital, IT and technology skills in order to boost your employability. 

➡️ How to help graduates launch their digital career

#6: Graduates not securing graduate-level jobs 

Whilst it is a sobering statistic, only 52% of graduates end up in a graduate-level job. The rest become underemployed working in jobs that do not require a degree. 

This is one of the top graduate employability issues. The root cause is the overabundance of academically qualifies graduates that enter the job market every year. 

How we help people to overcome these graduate employability issues 

We help graduates to discover their career path by determining their: 

  • Graduate job typology 
  • Hard and soft skills
  • Interests and career ambitions

Once we have determined the above, we then identify some suitable graduate job roles. Then we prepare the candidate for the graduate job application process. 

This involves crafting an achievement-based CV, writing effective cover letters, interview training and more. 

We encourage students to use their time at university wisely by taking every opportunity that they can to improve their employability skills. Gaining work experience is a great way to boost employability. As well as completing internships and placements, employers will also be interested in candidate’s extracurricular activities such as fundraising and being a part of a university society. 

How to Develop a Growth Mindset

“Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right” –  Henry Ford

Ford is right, we are the ones who determine whether or not we are successful through how committed we are to the idea that we can succeed. Those who believe they cannot do something will not prevail.

We can apply what Ford says to the job market as thousands of eager students prepare to dive headfirst into an increasingly uncertain and congested market.

All graduates will be desperate to convey as many of their talents and natural aptitudes to their potential employers and this is behind their success in the past and will be so in the future.

Whilst many graduate CVs will go into great detail about their organic abilities and how they have honed in on their God-given talents over their life, it is equally important to emphasise your ability to adapt and grow in order to learn any new skills.

By nurturing this ‘Growth Mindset’ you can bring success by constantly looking to improve your abilities and not relying on what aptitudes you already have to succeed.

By showing your capability to grow and thrive off challenges, employers will recognise this yearn for constant improvement and place you ahead of those who work with what is called a ‘Fixed Mindset’.

What exactly is a Growth Mindset?

Photo by meo from Pexels

The idea of the Growth Mindset was developed by psychologist Carol Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford University.

Dweck has spent many years exploring the psychology of success and how motivation, personality and development are integral to this success.

The theory suggests that there are two distinct types of human mindset which can be used to explain our approach to challenges and indeed failure:

1. A Fixed Mindset – This mindset adheres to the belief that our skills come from an innate ability to perform certain tasks.

This mindset, therefore, will view failure as an inevitability as you believe you simply do not possess the skills required to be successful.

Dweck described the goal of the Fixed Mindset individual is to “look smart all the time and never look dumb”.

2. A Growth Mindset – In contrast, a Growth Mindset is based on the individual believing that they can acquire the necessary skills required for a particular task through determination and hard work.

Possessing a growth mentality hinges on the belief that the brain is not fixed and it can continually learn to grow.  

A more detailed exploration of Dweck’s theory explains her belief in the benefits of possessing a Growth Mindset.

What do you need to have a Growth Mindset?

1. Effort – When a student with a Fixed Mindset is confronted with a difficult task, that student may consciously put in less effort because they believe they lack the inherent skills to be able to do it.

Whereas an individual with a growth mentality will acknowledge that in order to overcome the difficulty of the task, a greater level of effort needs to be applied for you to be able to master it.

If you are struggling to put in the effort at home then stick to this seven-step guide to help you study effectively at home.

2. Positivity – A lot of the Growth mindset can be down to your attitude. Not being overly self-critical and being optimistic in your approach can help to obtain this positivity.

Keeping positive whilst searching for your graduate career is a necessity as you are very likely to experience rejection in your pursuit of employment.

It is natural to feel these post-interview blues, and here is how can remain positive in the face of being rebuffed for a job.

3. Courage – The ability to actually face these challenges with confidence is key to being able to have a Growth Mindset.

The challenge of getting a graduate job at the minute is undoubtedly tough and one that requires this outrageousness.

Here are ten essential tips on how to get a graduate job in the current climate.   

Do you Have a Growth Mindset?

If you are wondering on which side of the fence you are currently sat with regards to your mindset.

You should consider what you perceive your skills and talents to be, and most importantly think how you would react to difficult challenges.

The London Academy of IT’s interactive quiz can help you to realise the type of mindset you currently have, and what elements of your attitude to work you need to improve the most

7 Ways to Develop your Growth Mindset

Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels

1. Learn how to Learn – There is nothing that cannot be learned through dedicated long hours of learning.

The time needed to be spent on mastering a subject varies from the traditional view of 10,000 hours to a more modern view of just 20 hours.

Whilst the length of time may be in dispute, there is no disputing that in order to properly learn something you need to devote a significant amount of time to it. Moreover, developing a technique that suits your learning is key to developing your Growth Mindset.

The Seven Learning Styles show that there is no singular method for your learning and it is certainly never too late to learn how to learn.

2. Focus on your effort, not your ability – Don’t bathe in the glories of your own ability, instead reflect on your success by focusing on the effort you have put into achieving it.

The more you begin to count on your own ability to succeed, the less effort you will begin to apply to your work. Don’t just believe in your ability but believe that your ability can always be enhanced by effort.

3. Use Constructive Criticism to your Advantage – This is perhaps the most overused piece of advice when it comes to bettering yourself, but there is a reason for that.

Being able to respond to criticism and use it to make yourself better can aid in your development of a Growth Mindset. The more criticism you listen to and take on board, the greater chance you have to improve yourself.

Opening yourself up to other people’s ideas and advice will help your mindset to grow.

4. Learn from other people’s mistakes – Likewise, listening to where others have gone wrong and heeding their advice can help you to improve by knowing what you should avoid.

5. Value the experience over the result – Those with a Fixed Mindset will avoid trying to learn something if that means they can avoid failure. The Growth Mindset thrives off the idea of a challenge and views failure as simply a launching pad for you to grow your learning.

Learning by doing even if it leads to failure is much more beneficial to your skills than believing your ingrained abilities mean you will never be able to accomplish something outside of your normal talents.

You should always emphasise the growth enabled by the experience of your work over the speed you are doing it at.

Being a fast learner can be a good trait but it can mean you don’t have the in-depth knowledge of someone who has really learned something in great detail.

6. Don’t be Complacent – Even if you think you have really begun to excel at a certain subject/skill, you shouldn’t start to think you have mastered it too soon.

You should constantly create new goals to allow you to improve yourself in a measurable fashion. Those who are successful never allow themselves to become complacent, they are instead constantly developing themselves and their ability to adapt.

7. Cultivate Grit – This is perhaps the most important step towards creating that Growth Mindset.

This is because putting in the effort is the biggest factor behind what we achieve as it prevents us from quitting when things are difficult and thus relying on our Fixed Mindset of skills. Here are five specific ways to cultivate your grit further.  

How will a Growth Mindset help you to secure a graduate job?

Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

Being able to demonstrate to a potential employer that you possess a Growth Mindset and you are able to apply it to your work, will stand you in great stead when it comes to job interviews.

Spending an interview listing off your many varied natural skills may sound impressive, but to be able to signify that you are constantly looking to improve yourself and expand your abilities will be far more impressive.

Indicating to an employer that you have that restless will to succeed and better yourself is exactly what employers will want to see in a graduate.

Someone who rocks up to work every day whilst believing they can rest on their laurels and rely on their natural ability to carry them through any obstacles that may surface compares unfavourably with those who believe that hard work and effort override natural ability when it comes to success.

You may never have been the sharpest tool in the box, but by allowing yourself to continuously grow your mind in the pursuit of achieving, will demonstrate the kind of willingness to learn and improve that will be incredibly appealing to employers.

So when you come to writing your CV or being interviewed, you should consider just how much of a Growth Mindset you currently hold.

Summary: How to Develop a Growth Mindset

We hope you’ve enjoyed this post on how to develop a growth mindset!

By analysing your own psychological approach to how you work and adopting this mindset it will enable you to have a career where you are always striving towards greater levels of success.

The trait of being fervently keen to learn is far greater than any trait we believe comes naturally to us.

If you’re a graduate who is finding it difficult to find a graduate job, contact us for some one-to-one coaching.

Written by Paddy Drew

Can I do a graduate scheme at 30?

There are a few reasons why you might be considering applying for graduate schemes in your thirties. 

If you’re in this situation and are wondering “can I do a graduate scheme at 30” this post is for you! 

We will outline why graduate schemes are not just for 21-year-olds and we will share some tips on how to use your experience to get a place on your dream graduate scheme. 

Why you might be considering a graduate scheme at 30

#1: You were a mature student 

There is no age limit for attending university and getting your degree. Perhaps you started your degree in your late twenties and now you would like to launch your graduate career, by doing a structured graduate scheme. 

A graduate scheme will help you to further develop your knowledge and skills whilst also giving you the opportunity to build up your experience.  

If this is the case for you, and you want to know if you can do a graduate scheme at 30, the answer is yes! 

You can certainly apply for graduate schemes at 30! Employers are not allowed to discriminate against you on the basis of your age. 

During your job search, you may come across a few graduate scheme job descriptions that state they only take graduates who have a maximum of one year of experience. Although positions like these will be far and few between. 

#2: You’ve recently finished your Master’s degree

Whilst many graduates embark on their Master’s degree straight after their undergraduate studies, there are many advantages of doing a Master’s after gaining a few years of experience. 

For example, doing a Master’s after gaining a few years of work experience will help you to study a programme that is in line with your interests and career aspirations. 

Perhaps you embarked on a Master’s at 30 and now wish to complete a graduate scheme in a specific field related to your postgraduate studies and previous work history. 

Whilst the majority of graduate schemes do not require a Master’s degree, if you have one in a related field as well as relevant work experience you may be able to demonstrate your aptitude well and stand out. 

If you aspire to work in a specialist field such as software engineering, data science or economic consulting, for example, having a Master’s degree might be desirable to some graduate recruiters who are looking for graduates who possess specialist knowledge in certain fields. 

If you are wondering: “can I do a graduate scheme at 30 after doing a master’s?” The answer is yes! Again, employers will be interested in not only your postgraduate studies but also your previous experience and the transferable skills you gained. 

Photo by Ekrulila from Pexels

#3: You are thinking of changing your career 

Maybe you graduated a decade ago and already have substantial experience under your belt. Perhaps you are now ready to pivot your career in a new direction and pursue your passion or work in a more lucrative field. 

Maybe you have done plenty of research into your new career path, and feel as though starting off in an entry-level position is the right move for you. 

If you are in this situation you are not alone. Many people do not discover their ideal career path for several years. Once they do they are happy to start at entry-level, or even take a pay cut to pursue a career that they truly love. 

In specialised fields such as technology, it is quite common for career changers to start in more junior graduate roles before working their way up. 

#4: You haven’t been able to secure a graduate-level job yet 

As mentioned above, many people do not discover their career path for many years. 

In fact, 48% of graduates do not get a graduate-level job and work in roles that do not require a degree. 

Maybe you have been underemployed for a few years or feel as though you are stuck in a dead-end job

Maybe you would like to do a graduate scheme at 30 because you now have a clearer understanding of your goals and interests and would like to challenge yourself to pursue your dream career. 

Applying for a graduate scheme at 30 blog graphic

Tips for getting onto a graduate scheme at 30 

The competition for graduate schemes is fierce. In order to get a place on a graduate scheme, you will need to successfully navigate the rigorous, multi-stage application process. 

The application process for graduate schemes consists of:

  • Submitting an online application
  • Completing online tests
  • Completing a series of interviews that might be video, telephone and face-to-face
  • Attending an assessment centre 

Many graduate employers recruit on a rolling basis, so be sure to apply early, and read our post on when to apply for graduate schemes

Here are some tips for getting onto a graduate scheme at 30 

#1: Use your experience to your advantage

If you have several years of experience of working full-time, you will certainly have a wealth of employability skills that graduate recruiters look for in candidates.

Your experience and the transferable skills that you have will give you a competitive advantage over the graduates who have very little work experience, or none at all.

Draw upon your experience and demonstrate your skills throughout the entire application process. 

#2: Conduct in-depth research

Take some time to reflect on the hard and soft skills that you have acquired so far. This will help you to identify the grad schemes that are most suitable for you.

Research each company that you are interested in so that you can tailor your applications to each one.

For every graduate scheme you apply for, you must be able to answer these three questions: 

  • Do I have the skills and competencies to do the job?
  • Why do I want the job?
  • Do I understand what the company wants and needs?  

Also, before embarking on this route, find out if there are alternatives. Perhaps you can get a graduate job that will help you to achieve your career goals. Is a graduate scheme worth it for you?

#3: Invest in interview coaching 

Interviewing is a skill that many people never truly master. When it comes to graduate scheme interviews, in order to stand out for the right reasons, you must present yourself well and demonstrate what you have to offer. 

Here are Graduate Coach, we offer two types of interview coaching: 

Summary: Getting a graduate scheme at 30 

Thanks for taking the time to read our post on getting a graduate scheme at 30. Regardless of your age, you are not too old for graduate schemes

Be sure to do your research, and if you do decide to apply for graduate schemes, send out high-quality applications and leverage the work experience that you have gained so far.  

Your experience, transferable skills and aptitude to learn new things will help you to stand out for the right reasons and land your dream job. 

What to do if you are finding life after university hard

The university bubble has burst, and you’ve been propelled into adulthood seemingly overnight. All of a sudden, your level of responsibility has skyrocketed and you’ve got several important decisions to make. 

Finishing university and starting your new life as a graduate isn’t always easy. It may take some time for you to find your feet. But what should you do if you are finding that your life after university is hard? 

In this post, we share tips for graduates who are finding life after university hard. 

Why is life after university hard?

Everyone’s journey after university is unique, however, there are some common challenges that graduates face and find difficult. Here are some examples and solutions:

#1: You are unsure of your career path

life after university is hard
Photo by James Wheeler from Pexels

So you’ve left university and you feel an overwhelming pressure to start working life. However, you don’t know what career path is right for you. 

Perhaps it was your dream since sixth form to finish university and become an Ecologist, but you haven’t been able to find any entry-level jobs in that field. 

Or maybe you applied for several graduate schemes and jobs throughout your final year of university but kept getting rejected. 

The truth is, many people don’t know what to do in terms of their career after university. 


  • Get some professional careers advice. Here at Graduate Coach, we have helped over 500 students and graduates to discover their career path, land their dream job and thrive in their careers. Find out more about our one-to-one coaching programme.

  • Audit your skills. Write down a list of your hard and soft skills. 
  • Work out your career typology. Companies hire 3 types of graduates: communicators, knowledge architects and specialists. Get yourself a copy of The Student Book to find out more about graduate job typologies and to identify yours.

  • Get some work experience. Gaining experience will help you to better understand what roles and working environments you like.  

Key takeaway: 

Invest time into working out what career is right for you. Do not ‘panic apply’ for several jobs and don’t put off this step and opt for postgraduate studies. A Master’s degree may not be the answer for you. 

Many graduates do not get a job straight out of university. Don’t give up on your graduate job search and use this experience to build your resilience.

#2: You aren’t enjoying your job 

Many graduates go through a hard time after university because they simply do not enjoy their job. 

48% of graduates never land a graduate-level job and remain underemployed. This is the harsh reality. Life after university is hard when you feel as though the time, money and energy you invested in your studies hasn’t paid off. 

Many graduates take up jobs that they are overqualified for so that they can start earning money to support themselves. 

Fortunately, even if you graduated a year or more ago, you are still eligible to apply for graduate schemes and jobs. 


  • If you are unhappy in your job, start thinking about switching careers. Contact us, for help with successfully transitioning into the right job for you. We can help you to find a job and to excel in your new role. 
  • Study the job market and identify the skills that you need to develop to boost your employability. 

Key takeaway

If you took up any job after university, rather than a good graduate job, all is not lost. regardless of what job you are in now, you will have gained several transferable skills that will make it much easier to get a new job.

There is no age limit when it comes to getting a graduate job, so stay positive and research your next career move. 

Read: Stuck in a dead-end job with a degree [There’s hope]

#3: You reluctantly moved back home with your parents 

Leaving university and moving back home is not easy for all graduates. It can be really hard for some graduates to come to terms with. 

After being away and living independently for the past 3-4 years has become the norm for you. 

Maybe you had hoped that you would stay in your university town or that you would get a flat with some of your uni mates. 

Whatever your situation is, moving back home can be a big adjustment to some and very stressful for others. 


  • If you are set on moving out of your parents home as soon as possible, devise a realistic plan to follow to ensure that you can do so. This may involve some career planning so that you can fund your move. 
  • Communicate your concerns effectively with your family members so that they understand how you feel. 

#4: You miss university 

As much as you hated pulling all-nighters in the library and racing to meet your deadlines, you enjoyed student life

Whilst you were at university, you probably met lots of new people and made lifelong friends from all over the world. 

Now that you have finished you may not see them as frequently and may miss the social life that you built for yourself. 

You created so many memories whilst at university, and leaving it all behind can be really hard. 


  • Attend alumni reunions at your university
  • Stay in touch with your uni friends and make the time to meet up with them 
  • Connect with your peers on social media 
  • Continue to do the things you enjoyed whilst at university. For example, join a local sports club and continue to work on your social life. 
  • Take positive actions to improve and maintain your mental health. This may involve getting daily exercise and plenty of sleep. Many graduates report feeling depressed or experiencing the “graduation blues” if you feel this way, be sure to speak to someone. 

Summary: what to do if you think life after university is hard 

If you think life after university is hard, you’re not alone in feeling this way. Leaving university and starting your new journey is a big life change. Many young people feel confused about their careers and unsure of the future.

This is normal. Progress your post graduate life by making informed decisions, planning and being proactive. 

Remember, if you are facing difficulties finding a graduate job, do not hesitate to contact us here at Graduate Coach.

8 Steps to Write a Successful Email to Your Potential Employer

Are you feeling a bit of “email anxiety” when thinking about emailing our potential employer?

Yep, ”email anxiety” is a real thing

The main reason behind it is the uncertainty about the response. 

“Will they see my email?” 

“Will the employer respond at all?”

“Is this the right position for my career?”

That’s why writing and sending a cold email to an employer is a common scenario for email anxiety. 

It shouldn’t be that way, though. 

First and foremost, you’re doing the right thing. Email is the best way to deliver a personalized, professional message that makes you stand out in a pool of candidates. 

Second, by emailing potential employers, you’re expanding your range of choices. This means making a step in the right direction to making better career choices. 

If you need help writing that email, we’ve got you covered. Below, find eight steps on how to write a compelling and personalized email (or LinkedIn InMail) to your dream employer. 

Step 1: Research the Position 

Okay, here, your academic research skills can really shine. 

Before you start writing the email, you need to know how to personalise it.

Email personalisation shows you’ve taken the time to research the position well and tailored your outreach. That’s a great sign for employers.

Besides, it might help you find the signs of a great company while you’re at it. 

So, here’s how to do it right.

As always, start by researching useful info to mention in your letter. Keep in mind that the job description isn’t the only place to get it. 

Let’s suppose you’re considering writing an email about this developer position at Google. 

Okay, so the qualifications and responsibilities are clear…

Hold on a sec. You’re not sure about some terms in the description…

“Google Stadia” is one of them. Even if you already know something about it, you need to know the latest news about the folks who work on it. 

Make a simple search to get them (sometimes the best things are simple). 

For example, in just a few clicks, I found Stadia’s blog for developers with lots of great info.

So, again, make sure to research the position. 

This way, you can find something to mention in your letter and make it more compelling for employers. 

Read: Small and Mighty Ways to Ge Employer’s Attention

Step 2: Write an Interesting Subject Line

“An inquiry?” – not engaging.

“I’m interested in your job opportunity?” – too general. 

When writing a subject line for your email, consider the following tips:

  • Use the findings from company research. Include a project a company is working for or mention a specific need of the company, e.g. “I’d like to contribute to [Project name]”
  • Provide value. What would provide that additional motivation for an employer to open your email? What makes you a great asset? A specific skill? Experience? Even basic value-adding phrases like “Content manager, interested in helping your content team” is totally fine to mention
  • Get personal. This means including the name of the recipient in the subject line.

Step 3: Use Appropriate Tone and Language

This one can be a little tricky.

The formal tone and language is the best bet in most cases. However, some companies prefer to communicate more casually, and even look for the same in candidates.

The ultimate choice depends on what you find during company/position research. 

For example, if you find that the job description is written in a formal tone and the recruiter’s LinkedIn post activity suggests the same, chances are you can write to them in a conversational tone. 

The critical thing is to be super respectful and friendly, regardless of the tone and language. 

Pro tip! While studying at university, many students adopt a very wordy academic style. While it’s great for essays and research papers, it’s not exactly the best idea for an email to an employer. 

The problems with the academic style include passive voice overuse, long words, unnecessarily complicated phrasing, and others. 

These won’t impress the person reading your email, so try to:

  • use more active voice, e.g. “I completed this” instead of “This was completed by me”
  • don’t be afraid to use “I” more often. While commonly discouraged in the academic writing style, “I” could help you to turn passive sentences into active
  • avoid industry buzzwords. This is a good idea even if the employer understands them because if you’re a fresh graduate, you might not completely understand what you’re talking about. 

Step 4: Mention the Position You’re Applying for

Can you tell what’s wrong with this letter?

“Dear Mr. Thompson,I’m glad to learn that your company has recently opened new positions in the marketing department. I’m writing to apply and would be grateful if you would consider my candidacy.  The prospect of joining the department would be an exciting challenge.”

What do you think?

While the content is quite okay, the sender hasn’t mentioned the job they’ve applied to. This leaves the employer guessing. 

The lack of details can discourage them from reading the CV altogether. So, please make sure to include the official title of the position to avoid having your CV ignored.

Step 5: Explain Why You’re a Great Fit

This is the most important thing to include after the short intro. 

Basically, you need to answer these questions:

  • “Do I need the eligibility criteria?”
  • “Do I have any additional relevant experiences?”

To give a potential employer a quick overview of your education, qualifications and experience without having too many details, try including the most relevant info.

If you were applying for a marketing-related position, for example, try mentioning:

  • your educational degree
  • foreign language skills
  • relevant internships
  • online courses
  • accomplishments. 

Try limiting this section to 4-5 sentences to the easiest reading experience. 

Step 6: Invite to Open Your CV

It goes without saying that your outreach email should contain the CV as an attached file. A bad application email never tries to convince the reader to open it. 

Feel free to use these call to actions to invite the recruiter to check out your CV:

  • “My CV is attached for your review”
  • “I’m enclosing my CV so you could review my experience”
  • “Please feel free to review my attached CV for additional information regarding my experience and qualifications
  • “Attached is my CV, which contains details about my qualifications and experience.”

Important! Don’t include any other documents besides the CV. Let them read it and then provide more information if requested. 

Read: Courses That Make your CV Stand out From the Crowd

Step 7: Let Them Know About the Follow-Up [Optional]

If the employer doesn’t respond in a week or so, feel free to send them a follow-up email. However, you should mention this in your first message.

You can do so with a sentence like this:

“I will follow up next week to verify the receipt of this letter.”

Including a notification about the follow-up is a common practice and a good opportunity to contact the employer once again. That’s why set up a reminder on your smartphone so you don’t forget about it, just in case. 

Read: Following Up After a Job Interview [4 Steps]

Step 8: Run a Quick Grammar Check

It’s very easy to make silly mistakes that can ruin your chances to get a job. So, to be on the safe side, use an online grammar checker. 

Tools like Grammarly, for example, check for grammar, tone, and spelling mistakes and give recommendations to avoid passive voice. 

Checking your email may take a few minutes but make a difference for your image as a candidate. 

A Successful Email for a Potential Employer: Summary

If you write a relevant, personalized, and to-the-point email, there’s no reason for “email anxiety.” The employer will notice that you did your homework and spent time researching their company’s needs. 

The tips above suggest the following email structure:

  • Greet the recipient
  • Identify the position you’re applying for
  • Give a concise overview of your education and qualifications to explain why you’re a great fit for the position
  • Have a call to action inviting the recipient to take a look at your attached CV
  • Let them know about a follow-up.

Of course, don’t forget to research the company and the position to know which skills and qualifications are the most relevant for the employer. 

Good luck!

Author’s bio. Daniela McVicker is a career and business communication coach, helping future job applicants to write business emails to help them achieve success on their career paths. She is also a contributor to Topwritersreview and Essayguard.

When do graduate schemes start?

So…you’re approaching graduation and you’re wondering what to do next?

Well, as I’m sure you know, many students look for graduate schemes. It’s a great way of getting high-quality, structured training and transitioning from a student into the working world. 

Graduate schemes normally start between July and September. However, companies have graduate schemes starting at different times throughout the year. 

I’ll take you through everything you need to know about graduate schemes so that by the end, you’ll know exactly how to get started. 

#1 The difference between graduate jobs and graduate schemes

The first thing you need to know is that they have set application dates. For example, applications may open in September for an intake the following August.

Graduate schemes are structured programs that help you develop technical skills while receiving on-the-job training.

It’s a clear pathway to prepare you for a full-time role at a large corporation where you can prove yourself. You may also be able to gain a professional qualification along the way. 

Typically, you’ll join a rotation training scheme run over a set period of time (between 12-36 months).

This gives you the chance to build up experience in multiple areas which, of course, is very handy if you’re not quite sure where you’d like to end up!

You can dip your toes into numerous fields before choosing where to specialise at the end. 

Meanwhile, graduate jobs do not have set application dates so don’t worry if you managed to miss all the deadlines for training schemes!

They will open job roles for graduates as and when they need them throughout the year. They also tend to have a far swifter application process. 

Generally, graduate jobs are more specialised. You’ll receive thorough training but it’s more hands-on and you learn on the job.

You will not be following a set program as you do in a graduate scheme so perform well and you will get rewarded with more responsibility. And with more responsibility comes opportunities to progress faster!

Which route you go for is up to you. In summary, graduate schemes for big companies look fantastic on your CV and, as a result, are very competitive. A graduate job may provide opportunities for a faster progression. 

➡️Read: What is a graduate scheme? 

#2: The graduate recruitment calendar 

➡️Read: When to apply for graduate schemes

Graduate schemes have set application dates. Typically, they may be open from September to January. Dates vary though, so make sure you’re aware of the application deadline for each scheme. 

You should be well aware of what graduate schemes you’d like to apply for well in advance. It is important to note that it is usually done on a first-come-first-served basis.

➡️Read: Graduate Careers For Bright Minds to see an extensive list of graduate scheme deadlines in 2020.

The whole application process takes a long time. There are many stages, which involve the likes of aptitude tests and assessment centres.

These take place over a number of months. Therefore, you might not find out about whether you have got the job until 7 months after you applied.

The recruitment process might look something like this:

#3: The application process 

When do graduate schemes start
Photo by energepic.com from Pexels

Application processes take a long time so you’ll have to be patient. This can be especially frustrating if you’re final year students with a lot on your plate already. 

Most graduate programmes ask for a 2:1 but more and more are starting to accept graduates with a 2:2. For example, EY and Deloitte have now scrapped the minimum requirement of a 2:1.

Below, I’ll run you through each stage of the application process:


The initial application will involve sending a CV coupled with a cover letter. Remember to tailor your CV for each role you’re applying for. 

You may also have to answer a series of questions asking you why you want to work in that industry and what relevant qualities or experience you have. So if you can intern somewhere beforehand then great! 

The first application might take a long time. But once you have a strong cover letter and answers to questions, you can adjust these for each application. 

Online Test:

The next stage will be an online test. You can normally expect aptitude tests involving verbal and numerical reasoning.

There are plenty of sites you can practise these on and it is essential that you do so.

Once you’ve done a few, you’ll really start to get the hang of them. Therefore, when you get to this stage of the application, you’ll feel like you’ve seen all the questions before. 

➡️Try: Practice Aptitude Tests. They have a number of free tests to get you started. 

Telephone interview: 

If you’ve made it here then very well done. Most applications are cut before this. Make sure you can thoroughly explain to them both why you want the job and why they should hire you.

Interviews will contain competency-based questions so brush up on your strengths and weaknesses beforehand. Also think of examples involving teamwork, leadership and where you’ve overcome a challenge.

It is also important to note that some interviews are recorded video interviews. This means you’ll be answering a set of predetermined questions with no one on the other side. Having a one-way conversation is, understandably, more difficult so be sure to thoroughly practise all your answers beforehand.


Assessment centres

So if you’ve made it here you’re down to the select few. An assessment day might involve a group exercise followed by an interview. However, it could also involve a presentation, written exercises or a roleplay.

There will always be some sort of group exercise to see how you interact with other applicants. If you find the idea of this stressful, don’t worry, everyone does! Having to address a room of people you’ve never met before is especially daunting.

Don’t feel like you’re competing directly against the other candidates. Everyone could get hired from your assessment day or no one could. The key is showing the company the attributes that they are after. 

Don’t be too quiet but equally don’t feel like you’ve got to hog the limelight. No one likes a show-off. 

Make sure you get your voice heard but also try and include other people-maybe someone who hasn’t said too much. These big companies are looking for team players, not someone who already thinks they can do the job better than everyone else.  

Face-to-Face Interview: 

The interview is likely to be a more thorough version of the phone interview discussed earlier. Make sure you come across as being passionate about the role. No one expects you to know everything at an entry-level interview. But they do want to see that you’re eager to learn and would be a good fit for the company. 

Here’s an example of how the process works at one of the most sought after companies for graduates, KPMG:

KPMG Graduate Application Advice Video

The Job Offer:

Once the assessment centre is done, the hard work is out the way and all is now out of your hands! They will normally set a timeframe telling you when to expect a response. 

If you are offered a job, congrats, all your hard work has paid off! If not, don’t panic. Just learn from your mistakes and move on to the next one.

Firms will normally give you feedback and if they don’t make sure you chase them up for it. It’s important to know where you went wrong so you can make adjustments for next time.

➡️Read: 6 Graduate scheme application tips 

#4: When do graduate schemes start?

Typically, graduate schemes start the Summer after you graduate with intakes ranging from July to September. 

However, there are of course variations. Some graduate schemes might start in January whilst some have multiple intakes. For example, Deloitte has intakes in both September and March.

Meanwhile, the well-known Aldi Graduate Area Manager Programme takes on graduates in different parts of the UK all year round. 

So great..now you know how they work, but how do you find them?

#5: Where to find graduate schemes

If you know which graduate schemes you want to apply to, then great. You’ve probably already gone straight to their website, so this bit might not be for you! If you just want to browse through some graduate schemes online, then there are plenty of great sites. These include Milkround, Bright Network and Gradtouch.

➡️Read: 21 Job Websites for Graduates

It’s definitely worth taking a look at The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers 2019-2020: Amazon.co.uk: Martin Birchall: Books. Most universities will have copies to give out to students. It’s a great read for students that have started thinking about the job hunt but aren’t sure which graduate scheme to go for. 


  • Graduate schemes are structured training programs usually providing rotations through different teams.
  • Applications typically open in up to a year before you’re due to start, so make sure you are ready to start applying well in advance.
  • Be prepared to go through a lot of stages in the application process.
  • They’re very competitive so make sure you apply to as many as possible.

If you would like some advice on how to land your ideal graduate scheme, feel free to get in touch with the team at Graduate Coach. 

Graduate Coach offers one-to-one coaching, interview training, online courses and more.

Economic consulting graduate jobs

Are you a recent graduate who is looking for economic consulting graduate jobs? 

In this post, we will share some tips on how to get an economic consulting graduate job and list some of the companies that hire graduate economic consultants. 

What is Economic Consulting? 

Economics is the study of how humans choose to use their scarce resources. Economic consultants apply economic analysis to solve challenges faced by businesses and consumers. 

Companies that hire graduate economic consultants 

The entry requirements for economic consultant graduate jobs vary across companies. 

Generally, companies have a minimum entry requirement for candidates to have either:

  • A 2:1 minimum of an undergraduate degree in Economics or a related subject
  • Postgraduate degree in Economics 
  • A minimum of a 2:1 undergraduate degree in any subject 

Here are some of the companies that hire graduates in economic consulting job roles: 

#1: PwC – Economic Consulting graduate scheme

Entry requirements: A 2:1 degree in Economics or a related subject.

As a graduate on the Economic Consulting graduate scheme at PwC, you will work alongside high-profile clients and law firms to help them during competition investigation and commercial disputes. 

You’ll conduct economic analysis and construct economic arguments using empirical evidence to advise clients on building cases to present to competition authorities, regulators and courts. 

The economic consultants at PwC provide advice in areas such as: competition economics, financial economics, market design and regulation, behavioural economics, econometric modelling and more. 

Find out more about Economic consulting graduate jobs at PwC.  

#2: FTI Consulting – Economic & Financial Consulting

Entry requirements: A minimum of a 2:1 degree. The economic consultant graduates at FTI come from a wide range of degree backgrounds, not limited to economics or finance. 

As a graduate consultant, you’ll have the opportunity to apply your skills and intellect to business and economic challenges. You will work in small teams to carry out quantitative, business and industry analysis and report your findings in a structured way.

As well as your team, you’ll work with international law firms, global conglomerates, FTSE 100 companies, regulators and governments.

As a part of the economic consulting graduate scheme at FTI consulting, you will get the opportunity to also earn qualifications to become a Chartered Accountant (ACA) or a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). 

Find out more about Economic consulting graduate jobs at FTI Consulting.

#3: Frontier Analytics – Analyst programme

Entry requirements: A 2:1 or equivalent degree and a Master’s in Economics. They do accept applications from final year undergraduates who will then go on to study a part-time Masters (part-funded by the company), and attend evening classes twice a week.

Throughout the programme at Frontier Analytics, you’ll be supported by two mentors as you work on projects with economists, senior analysts and directors.

You will get the opportunity to solve client problems, attend internal and external meetings, applying economic frameworks such as econometric modelling, writing reports and more.

Find out more about the analyst programme at Frontier Economics.

#4: Oxera – Graduate Economics Analyst

Oxera are looking for graduate analysts who share their passion for finance, economic and personal growth.

As a graduate, you’ll be able to choose between 3 pathways:

  • Graduate Economics Analyst
  • Graduate Economics Analyst – Econometrics
  • Graduate Analyst – Finance and valuation

The application process involves submitting an online application form, completing a Watson Glaser critical thinking test and attending two rounds of interviews.

Tips for getting an economic consulting graduate job:

6 Top Tips for Masters Students

About to start your masters or just starting?

Check out these 6 tips for masters students below!

Entering a new phase of study can be intimidating and more complex than your undergraduate studies.

However, with the right mindset and knowhow, completing your Master’s degree can be extremely rewarding and a great accolade on your CV.

#1: Think like a Fresher

As you enter the start of your postgraduate studies, your social situation will change. Even if you are continuing at the same university you did your undergraduate in. 

Most likely, you will have to rebuild much of your social circle – in which the first few weeks will be key. 

Generally, taking the approach of Freshers’ will most likely help you – that is, engage in as many activities as possible. These are, for example:

  • Societies and Sports Clubs. Though you may only be there for a year or two, it is still a great opportunity to link with new people.

    At the beginning of the year societies and clubs are flooded with new students –don’t worry about sticking out as a postgrad.
  • Take part in Student Union run Freshers’ events. Though you might not go to all the clubbing events, there are still an array of more ‘mature’ events, or indeed bespoke postgraduate events that you can take advantage of.

  • Actively engage and talk with people in your field of study. During the first month of studies, most people will be in the same boat – keen to make new friends.

    Be sure to network and forge some early social bonds while everyone is receptive. Indeed, it offers an opportunity to have a ‘study buddy’ in the future when assessment season comes around.

  • Check out our 5 Tops Tips for Starting University if you want to read further.

#2: Structure your Time

Photo by Michaela from Pexels

Chances are, if you were like me, you were pretty fast and loose in your undergraduate studies when it came to organising yourself. 

I remember the last few weeks of my undergraduate studies rushing to squeeze out assignments in the last few weeks, or skim-reading 80 pages of literature before a three-hour seminar.

Unfortunately, as I tried, continuing this strategy into your postgraduate studies or masters degree does not work.

The amount of readings that you will have to trawl through is considerably higher, and far more complex than undergraduate studies. 

It was certainly a rude awakening as I found that I had to plan my readings days in advance and break sections into time slots.

I’m sorry, but most of us mortal beings cannot process 150 pages of journal articles in one sitting, and merely reading the introduction and conclusion is not enough.

In my case, I would often allocate a certain number of pages to read each day. 

It’s good to know how fast you read (whether an A4 or A5 document) so you have a rough idea of how much time it may block out.

It’s important to take into account however that you will read considerably slower than casual reading, and especially as you make notes.

Some people prefer to allocate a fixed time of reading (say two to three hours per day), but I found this unsatisfying.

An achievement-based approach where you hit a fixed target can give you effective closure, and prevent you worrying about work during the rest of your day (you will after all, still want to maintain your personal life?).

#3: Figure out how You Best Learn

lightbulb on blackboard

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

You’ll probably know what kind of learner you are. Some people prefer to learn via lectures, reading, or actively engaging in seminars.

While you may have had some ‘out of the box’ working strategies from your A-Levels or Undergraduate studies, they will most likely become inadequate as you transition to your Master’s degree.

The amount of information you will have to process and understand requires you understand how you best learn. You don’t want to commit time to a learning method that has limited return.

Some people like mind maps, flashcards, highlighting, or working with pen and paper as it can help them absorb the content better.

Many of these methods can be categorised into four categories: Auditory, Visual, Written or Kinaesthetic.

 You can get a good explanation of these groups and what style of learning you are here, and possibly a new strategy to adopt. 

Knowing how you learn best, can help you to develop your study skills and to work more productively.

➡️Read: How to study from home effectively for some of our top study tips!

#4: Strategise your Assessments

Tips for Masters Students

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

In my undergraduate studies, I could start and finish assessments, days before they were due in.

Needless to say, this isn’t something anyone should condone. However, in your master’s degree, you won’t have the luxury of choice, and you will have to plan well in advance.

I very quickly found that essay questions were considerably more difficult to answer and required far more thought, research and reading to fulfil. 

Even if some are the same word count as undergraduate assessments, often the work will produce will have to be more nuanced. However, there are some pitfalls you need to avoid.

Tips for tackling your assignments strategically

  •  Don’t follow a fixed plan. By the very least, have a rough outline of a plan that offers flexibility. As you research your topic, the scope and shape of your argument will change in an unexpected direction.

    Articles you thought were relevant may not be necessary at all, and newly found literature will become far more relevant. Chances are, if you properly research your argument your initial research plan will have little bearing to your final draft.
  • Use your study time efficiently. When writing your assessment, you will invest considerable hours into that piece of work. Regularly ask yourself with whatever you plan to do that it is an effective use of your work time.

    You don’t want to commit to reading fifty pages of a journal article that has little relevance to your argument.

Or, if you spend two hours creating a timetable and reading list that most likely won’t be followed as your assessment changes, was it a good use of time?

  • Don’t be afraid to commit to writing the essay. It’s common to feel uncomfortable about starting the essay as you may lack clarity of what your argument is.

    So, you end up sinking into a hole of reading more and more literature in the hopes for a sudden moment of clarity (I recall a time when I had 27,000 words of notes for a 3,000-word essay).

    It’s nice when you have an epiphany, but don’t count on it happening every time.

Sometimes, as unpleasant as it may be, forcing yourself to write your assessments will give you clarity of what you want to say and what you’re lacking. 

It’s always tough to make a start, but that’s the hardest part.

#5: Keep your Future Career in Mind

Tips for Masters Students

Photo by freestocks.org from Pexels

Whether you’ve started your master’s as a stepping stone towards a PhD or merely to stay at university for another year, the inexorable question of what your career will still remain. It’s good to allocate time in the week on career development.

Keep in mind that 48% of graduates never land a graduate-level job. You don’t want to contribute to that statistic. Here are some key pointers:

  •  Keep following the key industries you’re interested in.

  • Network as much as possible with people who are associated with those industries. They could offer key insights or help in the future.

  •  Check the key employability skills requirements many job offers specify. Ask yourself whether you answer these convincingly – do you need additional experience in certain areas?

  • Consider a Graduate Coach to best guide you through to the world of employment. If you’re unsure, check out this blog: ‘Why you should consider getting a graduate coach.’

#6: Don’t Forget: You’re still allowed to have fun

Photo by Arthur Brognoli from Pexels

The last of our tips for masters students is to enjoy your postgraduate studies.

Many start their master’s degree, with all guns blazing, view that they’ll take their studies more seriously and prioritise work. While in theory, this is laudable, it isn’t realistic.

In reality, you’re merely setting yourself up to burn out in a few weeks’ time. It will most likely impact the quality of your work.

Keeping a balance of alternative activities and time to yourself throughout your postgraduate studies will benefit you.

Most importantly, following steps to look after your mental wellbeing is a good place to work around your weekly schedules.

If you’re unsure of where to start, check out the University of Sussex’s article on looking after your mental wellbeing; it has some great pointers and explanations on how best to manage your mental wellbeing and suggestions for healthy activities.

Conclusion: 6 Tips for masters students

Whether going back to university or continuing from undergraduate, entering the phase of postgraduate studies can be intimidating. 

However, with these 6 tips for masters students, you’ll have a good idea of how best to approach this exciting challenge. 

Certainly, with this article, you can view your master’s degree not as intimidating, but a hugely rewarding challenge to overcome.

We hope you have found this post sharing tips for masters students helpful!

By Peter Anson

10 Alternatives to graduate schemes

Whilst there are several benefits of doing a graduate scheme, they aren’t for everyone. Furthermore, graduate schemes are very competitive. Being aware of the alternatives to graduate schemes will help you to make the right career decisions after graduation. 

In this post, we will outline 10 alternatives to graduate schemes. We’ll also share useful resources to point you in the right direction if a traditional graduate scheme is not for you, or if your graduate scheme applications have been unsuccessful. 

#1: Get a graduate-level job

What are graduate-level jobs? Graduate-level jobs are positions that specifically state that candidates are educated to degree level in the job description. They are entry-level jobs for graduates. However, unlike graduate schemes, they aren’t as structured and do not end after a few years. 

Graduate-level jobs can be great alternatives to graduate schemes. They often have competitive salaries and allow graduates to gain hands-on experience within a particular role. 

A graduate job might be a good alternative for you if you already know what role is right for you, and therefore do not need to complete a graduate scheme that is rotational in nature. 

How to get a graduate-level job? 

Larger companies that offer graduate schemes generally have larger budgets for graduate recruitment and thus are able to advertise their graduate and early career opportunities better. You might find that graduate schemes are less well advertised, so you will need to remain proactive with your job search. 

Graduate jobs will be advertised on job boards, company websites, social media, graduate recruitment agencies and more. 

The application process for graduate jobs will be similar to graduate schemes. You’ll still need to submit your CV, and successfully navigate through a series of interviews

Some graduate-level jobs aren’t advertised at all, so do not hesitate to send speculative applications to the companies that you are interested in working for after university

Check out our post on how to search for a job online

Here at Graduate Coach, we can help you to land your dream graduate job regardless of what you studied or what university you attended. We offer career coaching programmes for students, graduates and career changers. 

Tips for getting a graduate job:

  • Be active on social media. Ensure that your profiles are optimised and be sure to look out for graduate job opportunities and connect with graduate recruiters. 
  • Attend networking events for students and graduates
  • Tailor every job application to the specification. 
  • Demonstrate your employability skills throughout the entire recruitment process. 
  • Improve your interview technique
  • remember, smaller companies won’t always advertise their jobs as much, so reach out to them an ask if they have any opportunities for graduates.

For more tips, check out our post on finding a graduate job

#2: Enrol on a graduate training programme

What are graduate training programmes? Graduate training schemes/ programmes are structured training programmes that are designed to upskill graduates in a highly specialised field, usually in technology or finance. Once you have been trained up, the company will help you to secure a full-time position where you will further develop your skills. 

Some graduate training programmes are free, and the training provider earns money from the company that offers you a full-time role. Other graduate training programmes and bootcamps are funded by candidates and are seen as an investment.

What companies offer training programmes for graduates?

There are several companies that offer graduate training programmes in specific fields to help to close skills gaps. 

Here are some examples of companies that offer these graduate training programmes:

  • FDM – The graduate opportunities at FDM are designed to help graduates to bridge the gap between academia and the workplace. They offer various training opportunities in technology and business. Once you have completed the training programme successfully, you’ll be deployed to work with one of their partner companies.
  • Mthree – the Alumni graduate programme at mthree upskills graduates in 8 weeks before they are deployed with one of their partner organisations for a 12-24 month placement. Candidates can choose the programme that is right for them from a wide range of disciplines including software development and anti-financial crime. 
  • QA – QA Academy has a 12-week programme that helps candidates to become a digital consultant. Once you have been trained the aim is that you will work for QA but you will work onsite with their customers. 

The above graduate training programmes can be good alternatives to graduate schemes as they provide you with a structured training programme and help you to become more employable in a particular field. They also combine the “book learning” with practical hands-on experience on successful completion of the programme. 

#3: Complete a Bootcamp

The companies below offer bootcamps that are designed to upskill candidates and prepare them for a job in a particular field. These fields are usually tech or digital related. 

Candidates have to pay for most bootcamps but some people see them as an investment or an alternative to doing a Master’s degree.

laptop with code on screen, a coffee mug and notepad and pen.

#4: Start-up your own company 

If you are entrepreneurial, starting up your own business might suit you more than completing a graduate scheme. 

There is a wealth of resources and support for entrepreneurs who are in the process of launching a business. 

Starting your own business straight out of university won’t be easy at all, and will be a steep learning curve. However, the rewards and payoff will be great if you have a great idea and persevere. 

Many people may advise you to work for a company first for many years before launching your own business, however, do not let this discourage you. Whilst you are young, it is a good idea to test your business ideas and rapidly learn and develop your skills. 



Regardless of whether your business fails or succeeds, you will gain work experience and transferable skills. 

Check out our guest post on how to market your first business

#5: Do a paid internships 

Like graduate schemes, good internship programmes are structured and are designed to give you hands-on experience in the working world. Therefore, internships can offer good alternatives to graduate schemes. 

If you perform highly during your internship, you may be offered a full-time position at the company you intern with. 

Regardless of whether you get a job at the company after your internship, you will have gained experience and developed employability skills that will make it much easier for you to get a job. 

The internship route might suit you if you:

  •  Are a university student in your second or penultimate year of study
  • Have graduated but do not have any work experience. 


Everything you need to know about doing an internship whilst at university 

How to get a summer internship 

#6: Work for a start-up 

Many graduates wonder if it is better to start their career at a small or large company. There are benefits and disadvantages to both, so it is important to work out what type and size company is right for you.

Have you considered working at a start-up company? Working at a start-up will allow you to “wear many hats” and gain experience in many different roles as you adapt to working for a growing business. 

One of the major benefits to working for a start-up is that the work culture tends to be less hierarchical and structured, giving you the opportunity to get really stuck in and build a name for yourself from day one. 

If you are interested in working at a start-up, you will need to be proactive in contacting them directly and sending a copy of your CV. 


  • Unicorn Hunt is a platform for finding and listing jobs in startups 

#7: Become self-employed 

You might decide that self-employment is the right path for you after university. 

Being self-employed will give you the opportunity to work flexibly and gain experience by working with numerous clients. 

Like starting up a company, freelancing straight out of university won’t be easy. You’ll need to take charge of your own learning to develop your skills and to serve your clients. 


  • The Dots is a diverse community of creative entrepreneurs & freelancers.

#8: Invest in further education 

Many final year students and recent graduates ask: “should I do a Master’s?” 

Here at Graduate Coach, we encourage our candidates to get experience as soon as possible and to only do a Master’s if they wish to in a specialised field after gaining significant experience. 

This is because doing a postgraduate degree will not necessarily boost your employability. Many graduates think that getting a Master’s will help them to stand out in the competitive graduate market, however, this is not the case. 

Employers expect graduates to have a good undergraduate degree. Beyond this, they are looking for graduates who have a broad range of skills that they can bring to the role. 

A candidate with a Bachelors degree, who has plenty of work experience and can confidently articulate their competencies and clearly demonstrate their skills will be seen more favourably than a candidate with an undergraduate and postgraduate degree without any experience. 

With this said, think very carefully before investing £10,000+ in a Masters as an alternative to doing a grad scheme. 

For some professions such as teaching (PGCE) and law (LPC or BPTC), it will be necessary to further your education. 

A good way to work out if your Master’s degree will be beneficial to employers is to see if the job descriptions that you are interested in mention that they are looking for candidates with a Masters degree in a specific subject. 

This may be the case if you are hoping to become an economic consultant for example. 

Wondering if postgraduate study is the right option for you? Get in contact with one of our graduate coaches. 


#9: Graduate apprenticeship  

An apprenticeship is a real job that offers hands-on experience, a salary and the opportunity to train and develop your skills. 

As apprenticeships give candidates hands-on experience whilst also training them in a particular field, apprenticeships are great alternatives to graduate schemes. 

Keep in mind that the minimum entry requirements for every apprenticeship varies. Some may deem you to be overqualified if you have completed your degree. 

If this is a route that you are keen to pursue, keep an eye out for Master’s apprenticeships. These programmes will give you the opportunity to gain work experience, get paid and earn a postgraduate qualification. 


#10: Do a placement abroad 

Gaining international experience will help you to broaden your horizons, whilst immersing yourself in different cultures. Working abroad will push you outside of your comfort zone and encourage you to engage with new people. 

All of these transferable skills and insights will be valued by your future employers wherever you work. 


  • Don’t limit yourself to doing a graduate scheme if it is not for you. There are several alternatives to graduate schemes. 
  • Get careers advice to help you to discover your career path
  • Conduct lots of research and consider all of your options. 
  • Focus on your development and work out what route will grow your skills the most.
Alternatives to graduate schemes

10 Alternatives to graduate schemes: summary 

The belief that a graduate scheme is the only route to success is far removed from reality. It results in thousands of graduates feeling lost after university if they are unable to secure a place on a graduate scheme. However, there are several routes that you can take after graduation. It is vital that you find the right path for you. 

We hope that you have enjoyed our post sharing alternatives to graduate schemes! The graduate job market is very competitive. however, strategically navigating your job search and working out what is best for you will help you to get your foot in the door and thrive in your career.

Once again, if you are struggling to work out what route is right for you, check out our career service and get in touch with us today! 

All the best with your job hunting!