LinkedIn for Graduates: Personal Branding To Land Your Dream Job

We’ve all been there, straight out of education and into the world of business. We may see our friends and classmates securing new internships and graduate jobs, but we’re still scrambling with job applications and uncertainty. 

But there is one way to get in front of hundreds of potential employers quickly – LinkedIn

LinkedIn boasts over 30 million company pages, meaning it’s the best place to reverse-engineer your job search and attract an employer to YOU. 

But how do you use it successfully?  Here’s how to create a perfect LinkedIn profile.

This is a guest post by Sakeena Khatib, the strategy director at Hytn.

1) Leave no stone unturned, complete your profile page

Ensure every possible field on your profile is complete. The more complete your profile is, the more seriously you will be taken. 

➡️The more complete your profile is, the priority it will be given in recruiter’s searches. In other words, the more information you share on your profile, the more visible your profile will be in the search results.

Profile photo

Your profile photo should be a headshot. But not necessarily a professional one.

Authenticity sells, and a less corporate, but still appropriate picture showing enthusiasm and personality could pay dividends – especially when looking to work for more creative or tech companies.

➡️LinkedIn profiles with profile pictures receive up to 14x more views.

Background photo

Customising your background photo is a good way to illustrate your personal brand and gives the impression that you have put a lot of thought into completing your profile.

The recommended size for your background photo is 1584 x by 396 pixels. You can use Canva to design your very own LinkedIn background image. There are plenty of LinkedIn background photo templates that you can customise and download for free.


 Try and refrain away from a tagline of “Looking for a Graduate Job” or “Graduated from XXXX with XXX”. Although these generic taglines will make it clear you have graduated, they are also vanilla and don’t allow for differentiation in a competitive market.

Be creative. You could try “An expert in Software Engineering, and a recent graduate from King’s College – passionate about all things .NET.” 

Fill out your summary section

Think of your summary section as the first few lines of a well-written cover letter. Keep it concise, highlight your qualifications and express your goals.

Remember to include keywords that are relevant to the graduate jobs you wish to apply for.

Work Experience

Don’t undermine your experience. You may never have worked a day in your life, or you may have worked in retail or as a barista to get you through University.

The trick is to never undermine these experiences because you learn something from everything. All skills are relevant skills.

Graduate employers will be keen to see evidence of transferable skills. You may have gained transferable skills from your work experience placements, internships, part-time jobs or even extracurricular activities.

Once you understand that every experience in your life has somewhat shaped your characteristics, you will take every experience and understand how it can be used in the business world. 

For example, You worked as a Barista at Starbucks for three years. You didn’t just make coffee. You were a master at time-management, juggling tasks simultaneously and working in high-pressure, demanding environments

If you can do that for three years, you have skills and you need to shout about them on your profile. The more experience you list, the more likely you will have something in common with potential employers. 

Where you can, upload examples of your work.

➡️The soft skills that you have developed such communication, teamwork and time management are desirable to graduate recruiters.

Be contactable

Make yourself approachable and contactable.

Your email address and even your phone number should be visible to potential employers and recruiters. There’s also a tick-box of “Open to New Opportunities” – ensure this is on.


Graduate recruiters will be interested in this section to check that you meet the minimum academic requirements for the job.

Pad out this section with as much information as you can including:

  • What and where you studied
  • Your degree classification
  • A-level results and possibly GCSEs (although this is not always necessary)

2) Connecting is great, but content is king. 

Posting video tutorials, pictures, and posts on how you’re upskilling is authentic, shows personality and not many graduates have the confidence to do it. 

Sam Winsbury, a student at The University of Birmingham and owner of That Personal Branding Guy states that exposure makes a person less of a stranger – “simply by appearing on their feed every day, you will become liked and trusted.”

So if employers see you posting relevant and engaging content on their feed and then see you in their application inbox, subconsciously they’ve already warmed to you – you’re no longer a stranger.

If you can do that for three years, you have skills and you need to shout about them on your profile. The more experience you list, the more likely you will have something in common with potential employers. 

3) Nearly every job field on LinkedIn has a relevant group and you should join it. 

The owners, managers and employers all recruiting for that skillset will be there and if you’re able to comment, add value and even offer freelance services to those in that community, you build a reputation, which will bring you jobs and exposure.

Group of preofessionals gathered together at work in the office
Photo by Jopwell from Pexels

4) Use your profile to apply for jobs.

Just typing in “Graduate” into a UK Job search on LinkedIn shows me over 15,000 results. 

And the magic behind applications through LinkedIn is that they’re often one-click, and show the personality behind the application. 

You could even go one step further and message the employers direct with a portfolio of your skills. 

It allows for unlimited exposure and communication. 

5) Connect with people in your network

Be sure to connect with former peers and colleagues. Connecting with the people you know will help you to build up and stay in touch with your professional network.

Once they become connections also ask them to endorse your skills and request recommendations.

Linkedin for graduates app on phone
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

6) Lastly, don’t wait until Graduation day to start this.

The competition for graduate jobs is fierce, and top employers are looking for forward-thinking individuals to join them. 

If you’re already engaging with them whilst studying, you will ooze sophistication and confidence, which will bring employers to you. 

Summary: LinkedIn for graduates

Taking these steps in marketability is training for the business world itself. It teaches confidence, putting yourself out there, and is the first step on the career ladder. 

Guest author bio: With a background in PR, Branding and Recruitment, Sakeena has taken. her core skills to the next level. She combines Marketing and. Branding with Recruitment to create the best possible campaigns for her clients, bridging the gap of understanding between Branding and Recruitment.

If you are in the process of searching for a graduate job, a well-optimised LinkedIn profile is a must! It is equally important that your other social media profiles are also professional!

We hope you enjoyed our LinkedIn for graduates post!

Finding it hard to land a graduate job? Get in touch with the team here at Graduate Coach! We offer students, graduates and career changers career coaching, interview training, online courses and more!

Is it too late to get an internship after graduation?

So, you’ve recently graduated, and now your thinking about how you will launch your career as a graduate.

Perhaps you missed out on getting any internships whilst you were at university and feel an internship would help you to discover your career path.

In this post, we’ll answer a commonly asked question: is it too late to get an internship after graduation?

Assessed Internships

Most of the large companies that hire an intake of graduates every year offer internships.

They usually offer these internships to undergraduate students who have completed years 1 and 2 of their degree. These are delivered as a highly structured summer internship programme.

The undergraduate students who successfully get a place on the summer internship programme will be assessed during the internship for their suitability for a graduate scheme at the company.

graduates who do well during the internship will usually be fast-tracked through the application process for the graduate scheme at the company.

If offered a place on the graduate scheme, they will start the following summer, once they have completed their degree.

For example, Shell offers undergraduate students and postgraduate students the opportunity to apply for their assessed internship.

During their assessed internship programme, candidates will have a midterm review and a final review with their supervisor. This assessment could lead to am employment opportunity in a full-time role.

Large graduate employers often have a summer internship programme to help them to identify potential talent. Candidates that have completed an internship at the company and who perform well are a much lower risk than a candidate who hasn’t.

As those who complete an internship with these companies as a student have a greater chance of getting a graduate job there, places on these summer internships tend to be very competitive.

So to summarise, if you have already graduated it may be too late to get a summer internship at one of the larger companies.

If you have already graduated is it too late to get an internship?

The short answer to this question is no.

Here are some tips for getting an internship if you’ve already graduated:

  • Be on the lookout for companies that offer off-cycle internships. These may be open for graduates, or larger companies that offer internship programmes for those who have already graduated.

    For example, Commerzbank, offers off-cycle internships that range from 8 weeks to 12 months. Students (both undergraduate and graduate) and those who have already graduated are eligible to apply.
  • Look for internship opportunities at smaller companies. Assessed internships are not exclusive to large companies.

    Smaller companies also assess their interns. Some smaller companies hire candidates for a short period of time to determine whether they would make a good fit in a permanent role at the company.

What job can I get with my degree?

So you’ve finished your degree, graduated, and now it’s time to get a job.

You certainly want to get a graduate-level job, but you have no idea what career path is right for you.

If you are in this predicament, don’t panic! Graduate Coach is here to help you!

In this post, we will outline what jobs you can get with your degree, regardless of what you studied at university.

Most graduate jobs do not require a specific degree subject

Yes, you read that right. Most graduate jobs do not require a specific degree.

In fact, recruiters hire graduates from a broad range of degree disciplines to introduce more diversity in their workforce.

It is a little known fact that graduate jobs can be divided into three typologies:

  • Specialists
  • Knowledge architects
  • Communicators

Specialists are hired for their specific knowledge and expertise in a particular area.

Some examples include computer scientists, pharmacists and doctors.

Only around 10% of graduates fall into this category. These specialist graduate roles require a specific degree.

The remaining 90% of graduate jobs do not require a particular degree subject.

Knowledge architects are hired for their ability to analyse information and derive insights from them.

Examples of knowledge architects include graduate roles in consulting, accounting and finance or banking.

Communicators are hired for their ability to build and maintain viable relationships with clients and internal teams.

Examples of communicator graduate jobs include sales, marketing and PR.

types of graduate jobs
Read more about graduate job typologies in The Student Book, by Chris Davies

If you aren’t a specialist who wants to pursue a career based on your degree subject, there’s a lot of options available to you.

Think of your degree as an entry pass to the graduate job market

Now that you have your degree, the graduate job market will open up for you.

Most graduate jobs and graduate schemes ask for a minimum of a 2:1 degree in any subject.

The academic requirements will vary across companies. So do not despair if you achieved a 2:2.

However, simply having a degree does not guarantee you a graduate job. The graduate market is incredibly competitive.

It’s a sobering statistic, but only 52% of graduates get a graduate-level job. The rest become underemployed and work in jobs that did not require a degree.

To put it bluntly, your academics alone, will not impress graduate recruiters.

Graduate recruiters are looking for workplace-ready graduates who can demonstrate their employability skills.

This is why getting a Masters degree straight after your bachelors won’t necessarily help you to get a job.

Unemployed with a Master’s [What to do next]
Should I do a Master’s degree?

To summarise the points above, most graduate jobs do not specify a specific degree. Once you meet the minimum academic requirements, your personality and skills will outweigh your academics.

So without further ado, here are some graduate jobs you can get with any degree.

#1: Law

It is a common misconception that you need to have studied an LLB in Law in order to get a career in the legal field.

This could not be further from the truth with many city law firms hiring 50% non-law graduates.

legal recruiters hire graduates from all degree disciplines.

If for example, you wish to become a solicitor at a city law firm, the company will pay for you to take a conversion course and to get the required legal practise to qualify as a solicitor.

Some examples of law firms that recruit graduates with law and non-law degrees include: Linklaters, Weil, Clifford Chance, Reed Smith and many more.

Resources for launching a graduate career in law:

Law careers net

#2: Consulting

If you have an aptitude for analysis and are commercially aware, a career in consulting might be for you.

Like law, consulting is very competitive to get into. Once you tick the academic box, you’ll need to be able to demonstrate a broad skill set. Graduate recruiters in consulting look for very specific skills and aptitudes in graduates.

Consulting firms that hire graduates include, PwC, Bain, McKinsey, Accenture, EY, Deloitte, BCG, KPMG, IBM and more.

Resources for launching a graduate career in consulting:

What job can I get with my degree
Photo by The Coach Space from Pexels

#3: Human Resources (HR)

You don’t need a degree in HR to get a job in this area. In a HR role, you will help to manage the workforce. This may involve recruitment, training staff, reviewing salary and more.

All large companies across all industries will have a HR department. Network Rail, Shell, Ford, Virgin media are all examples of companies that hire graduates for HR roles.

Many employers help the graduates on their HR graduate schemes to gain a CIPD-approved postgraduate qualification.

Resources for launching your graduate career in HR:

#4: Civil Service

The Civil Service Fast Stream is an award-winning leadership development programme. It develops people from a wide range of backgrounds who have the potential to be future leaders.

The Civil Service Faststream offers 15 different programmes for graduates.

They specifically state on their website:

“Regardless of the degree subject you studied, there’s a scheme for you”.

Civil Service Faststream

Most of the fast stream programmes have a minimum of a 2:1 or 2:2 degree in any subject.

The Fast stream offers a competitive starting salary starting from £27,000 – £28,000. This rises to £45,000 to £55,000 upon completion.

Some of the streams include commercial, digital data and technology, Human resources, Finance and more.

The application process for the Fast Stream involves completing online tests, a video interview, an assessment centre and a final selection board.

Further resources on The Civil Service Fast Stream:

#5: Accounting

You do not need a degree in accounting to become an Accountant.

The Big four accounting firms don’t ask for a specific degree subject. Some do not even ask for a minimum of a 2:1.

They are much more concerned with your skills and potential. They are willing to invest in high calibre candidates and support them by gaining the necessary qualifications to become a professional in the field.

Resources for starting a graduate career in accounting

#6: Investment Banking

Investment banking is all about buying, selling, dividing and combining companies or entities.

Investment banks can be divided into three categories, front, middle and back-office. Roles within the front office include traders, strategists, sales, analysts.

Roles within the back and middle office include legal and compliance, HR, Technology and risk management.

A career in investment banking is not just for finance, economics and maths graduates.

Investment banking is another field that is open for graduates from all degree disciplines.

Leading graduate recruiters in Investment Banking include Barclays, Citi, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, HSBC, Nomura and more.

Resources for getting a graduate job in investment banking:

Youtuber: Heroine In Heels

#7: Working for a charity

If you are a socially-conscious graduate, who wants to make a real difference, there are opportunities in the third sector.

The larger charitable organisations are more likely to offer graduate jobs to graduates with any degree.

Some examples include:

#8: Technology

Some jobs in technology are for specialists who have studied a degree in a STEM subject.

However, if you did not study a STEM-related degree such as computer science, but have a passion for technology, there are opportunities for you.

If you fall into the communicator or knowledge architect graduate job typologies your skills will be valued in the tech field.

Tech companies and consulting firms need people who can relay technical concepts to client and internal teams effectively.

Capgemini divides their technical graduate jobs into three categories:

  • Technical roles – for those with a technical background
  • Technology consulting roles – for those who are tech enthusiasts who want to work with technology, but not build the technology
  • Business/ consulting roles– for those wanting to work in the tech sector but in a client-facing or operations role.

As you can see, only one of the three categories requires a tech-related degree. Anyone with a degree in any other subject can get a job in technology consulting roles.

Photo by luis gomes from Pexels

#9: Digital Marketing

Digital Marketing is another field that attracts graduates with a degree in any subject.

If you are a graduate who is both analytical and creative, a career in Digital marketing might be for you.

You may decide to specialise in a specific area of Digital Marketing such as PPC, SEO, Programmatic Display, Social Media or digital PR.

Here at Graduate Coach, we have helped several graduates to launch successful careers in Digital Marketing!

Resources for starting a graduate career in Digital Marketing

#10: Working at a start-up

Perhaps working at a large corporate isn’t for you. Maybe you would prefer to be a big fish in a small pond.

If so, you might want to consider working at a start-up.

One of the best solutions, when you don’t know what job to get with your degree, is to gain broad experience.

Working at a start-up will often allow you to “wear many hats” or in other words try out many roles.

Many start-ups and smaller companies will gladly take on entrepreneurial graduates with degrees in any subject.

If you are interested in getting a job at a start-up company, you’ll need to do lots of research. This is because opportunities at start-ups will be less advertised.

Resources for graduates looking to get a graduate job at a start-up

#11: Teaching

Have you considered becoming a teacher?

If you are considering becoming a teacher at a UK state school, you’ll need to have a degree and a recognised teaching qualification.

Teaching might be a good option for you if you are really passionate about the subject that you studied at university. You’ll be able to use your passion to inspire the next generation.

Resources for graduates considering a career in teaching:

#12: Policing

Police officers work with their community to maintain law and order and to protect members of the public.

It is a challenging career path for graduates from any degree subject.

Police now offers two graduate training programmes, the national detective programme and the national graduate leadership programme.

Resources for graduates who are thinking of becoming a police officer:

What job can I get with my degree: Summary

Thanks for taking the time to read our post! We hope it has given you some ideas on what job you can get with your degree.

Graduate employers are looking for much more than a degree. They are looking for high-calibre graduates who have a broad skill set and experience.

What you studied, where you studied and what grades you got doesn’t make you stand out in the competitive graduate job market.

Looking for a graduate job?

We can help you! Here at Graduate Coach, we offer interview training, one-to-one coaching, online courses, books and workshops.

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. 

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. 

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 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 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: 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:

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!

How to get a training contract [Ultimate Guide]

Are you an aspiring solicitor who is keen to boost their chances of getting a training contract? In this post, we will share top tips on how to get a training contract! 

Firstly, we will outline what you can do to strengthen your applications. Then we will discuss how to succeed throughout the rigorous training contract application process. 

How to increase your chances of getting a training contract 

A training contract is essentially the step between academia and becoming a qualified solicitor.

Here are some actions that you can take before applying for a training contract. These will help you to put together stronger training contract applications.

#1: Get some legal work experience 

Gaining legal work experience has three main four main benefits, it: 

  • Helps you to determine whether a career in law is right for you.
  • Demonstrates your interest in the legal profession.
  • Helps you to develop your skillset and legal competencies.
  • It can lead to further legal career opportunities.

It is a really good idea to get a place on at least one vacation scheme. This is because some law firms use vacation schemes to assess candidates and fast track them for training contract opportunities.

To boost your chances of getting vac scheme and training contract offers, gain as much legal experience as possible.

➡️ We have put together a comprehensive post sharing 16 legal work experience ideas.

In that post, we share ideas on gaining pro bono experience, virtual law internships, becoming a paralegal and more.

how to get a training contract
Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

#2: Take every opportunity to engage with legal graduate recruiters

It is a common misconception that training contract recruitment starts when applicants apply for vacancies. 

However, this could not be further from the truth. Legal graduate recruiters actively search for talented candidates early. They build a pipeline of candidates with high potential including A-level and first-year university students.

If you are serious about securing a training contract, you must engage with legal graduate recruiters as much as possible. This will put you on their “radar”.

Once you are in the pipeline, you’ll be notified of opportunities and exclusive events. These will help you to get a training contract.

How to engage with legal recruiters:

  • Connect with them on social media
  • Attend networking events (more on this later)
  • Apply for law programmes for first and second-year students if you are still at university
  • Take part in access to law schemes and widening participation initiatives.

#3: Get some non-law, commercial work experience

Getting non-law related work experience can help your application to stand out amongst the competition.

Here are two benefits of gaining non-law related work experience.

  • It will help you to develop your commercial awareness skills
  • You’ll gain and develop transferable soft skills

Any experience that you gain will be valuable. Some ideas could be to gain some experience in investment banking or consulting.

Law work experience in the city
Photo by Burst from Pexels

#4: Research law firms carefully

There are approximately 10,500 law firms in England and Wales. All law firms are different so it is very important to identify the right type of firm for you.

Applying for training contracts at firms that you have thoroughly researched will improve your chances of success. Legal recruiters will be looking for well-researched candidates.

You’ll be expected to have a clear and concise answer to “why do you want to work at this particular firm?”

Here are some of the main types of law firms:

Magic circle law firms

Magic circle law firms are large, based in London and have significant international operations. All of them have a trainee solicitor intake of close to 100 per year.

The work at magic circle law firms places a lot of emphasis on corporate and finance work.

Members of the magic circle include:

Training at a magic circle law firm will be excellent for your CV, but they aren’t suited for everyone. They are known for working graduates very hard and the hours will be very long.

Magic circle law firms

Large commercial law firms

This group of law firms are sometimes referred to as silver circle law firms.

In terms of the day-to-day work for trainee solicitors at silver circle law firms it doesn’t vary much. The work will largely involve corporate, finance and international deals. The salaries match those paid by magic circle firms.

Firms seen as part of the silver circle include but are not limited to Ashurst, Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner, Herbert Smith Freehills, Macfarlanes and Travers Smith.

American law firms in London

Since the 1970s there has been an increasing number of US law firms taking their place in the UK market.

Around 50 of them offer training contracts to UK trainee solicitors. Some examples of these firms include, White & Case, Weil, Baker McKenzie, Jones Day, Latham & Watkins and more.

Other types of law firms

Other types of firms to look into include:

  • Mid-sized commercial law firms such as Bird & Bird, Charles Russell, Reed Smith, Taylor Wessing and K&L Gates.
  • Smaller commercial law firms such as Penningtons Manches, Withers, Druces, Boodle Hatfield and Ince Gordon Dadds.
  • Niche law firms such as Arnold and Porter, Fox Williams, Morgan sports law, Simkins, Kingsley Napley, Leigh Day and Northridge Law.
  • Regional law firms such as Taylor Vinters, Ashfords, Blaser Mills and Burges Salmon

Shortlisting law firms

Once you have determined what type of law firm is right for you, the next thing to do is to shortlist the firms that you will apply for.

For the firms that you are interested in, note down what traits the firm looks for in trainees.

For example, Linklaters assesses applicants against their agile mindset framework which identifies candidates that will make a good cultural fit.

Understanding what firms are looking for in trainee solicitors will help you to tailor your applications and increase your chances of getting a training contract.

#5: Attend networking events

As we mentioned above, it is vital that you engage with graduate recruiters as much as you can.

Attend law open days, insight days and careers fairs. These events will give you a deeper insight into law and tips for your applications.

A Guide to networking for aspiring lawyers

Find out about law networking events on the following sites:

When you attend networking events, push yourself beyond your comfort zone and make new connections. Be sure to read our post on networking tips for students.

Photo by Marily Torres from Pexels

#6: Get good grades 

Every year the number of applicants far exceeds the number of training contracts on offer. The competition for training contracts is fierce. This is one reason why academic grades requirements are so important for future trainees.

Most law firms have a minimum of a 2:1 degree in any subject. Some firms also ask for specific A-level grades. Often the A-level is AAB, however, some law firms do not have a minimum A-level requirement.

If you experienced extenuating circumstances during your exams, inform the graduate recruitment team before sending your application.

#7 Understand the purpose and key requirements of a legal traineeship

Traineeships are designed to give individuals supervised experience in legal practice.

It is the final step in the process of qualifying as a Solicitor. Trainees get the opportunity to develop their professional skills in a legal environment such as a Solicitor’s firm, local authority or an in-house legal department.

As a Trainee Solicitor, you must:

  • Apply and develop the skills outlined in the Practice Skills Standards
  • Maintain a training record
  • Be supervised by Solicitors and others with adequate legal knowledge and experience in the practice area they are supervising
  • Receive regular appraisals regarding performance, development and training record
  • Successfully complete the Professional Skills Course

Legal graduate recruiters will be looking for future trainees who know what the role will entail.

#8: Get a law mentor

law mentor coaching future trainee on how to get a training contract.
Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels

Mentorship will play a big role in your early career as a trainee solicitor as you’ll be supervised and mentored.

However, getting a mentor before applying for training contracts will help you to make informed decisions and to gain valuable insights.

To get a law mentor, ask Solicitors in your network to mentor you. If you do not have any family members or friends who are Solicitors, don’t hesitate to reach out to people on LinkedIn.

Oftentimes, people are open to helping those who are in the earlier stages of their career.

Your law mentor will have already gone through the process of getting a training contract successfully. Therefore, they will be able to share first-hand insights.

If you are unable to get a law mentor, there are some very informative videos by trainees and Solicitors on YouTube.

Youtuber: Eve Cornwell

#9: Hire a Graduate Coach

Graduate Coaches help students and graduates to excel in their early careers and beyond.

They help individuals to discover their career path and to land their dream jobs. This is achieved through achievement-based CV writing, one-to-one career coaching, interview training and more.

Here at Graduate Coach, we have helped students and graduates to training contracts at some of the leading law firms.

How to excel during each stage of your training contract application 

In order to stand out from the crowd, it is really important that you send off high-quality training contract applications.

To ultimately land training contract offers, you must excel during each stage of the application process.

The application process for training contracts varies across law firms. However, in general, you will need to:

  • Send an online application
  • Complete online tests
  • Pass interviews

#1: Understand each law firm’s assessment criteria

The graduate recruiters at each law firm will follow specific criteria when assessing each candidate’s suitability.

Understanding exactly what the firm is looking for, will help you to highlight the skills that they are looking for.

For example, at Linklaters, the recruiters use their agile mindset framework. It is designed to identify candidates who have can demonstrate empathy, divergent thinking, entrepreneurship and social & emotional intelligence.

At CMS, the recruiters are looking for future trainee solicitors who have:

  • The ability to demonstrate their personal effectiveness
  • A drive for achievement
  • Leadership qualities
  • Relationship building and commercial awareness skills

#2: Smashing training contract online tests 

Many law firms ask candidates to complete the Watson Glaser test.

The Watson Glaser online critical reasoning is designed to assess your ability to construct a sound, solid argument. It will also test your ability to evaluate information and draw conclusions that can be supported.

Here are some useful websites for Watson Glaser test tips and practice:

Some law firms such as Reed Smith ask applicants to complete an online situational strengths test.

These tests are designed to assess how you respond to and prioritise tasks that you may encounter as a trainee solicitor.

#3: How to nail your training contract interview 

As with all interviews, it is important that you:

  1. Demonstrate that you have the skills and competencies to do the job
  2. Genuinely want the job, and can clearly articulate why
  3. Empathise with the employer and show that you understand what the graduate recruiters are looking for

➡️Want to get really good at interviewing? Find out more about our interview training programme for students and graduates.


Here are some frequently asked questions future trainees have when applying for training contracts.

How hard is it to get a training contract?

Getting accepted for a training contract is difficult. You’ll be competing against thousands of other hopefuls to get an offer.

You won’t just be competing against those who graduated at the same time as you but also career changers and those who are reapplying.

These candidates may be more competitive as they may have gained valuable experiences and acquired transferable skills.

According to all about law, there are around 5,500 training contracts available in the UK. They estimate that there is a 1 in 6 chance of securing a place.

How to get a training contract before GDL?

If you are a non-law student, you can start applying for training contracts in your final year of university.

Most law firms accept and support non-law students throughout their GDL, LPC and training contract.

For example, Norton Rose Fullbright pays for all their successful training contract applicants to study for their required qualifications.

In the past, these have been the Graduate Diploma in Law and the Legal Practice Course. However, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) have made revisions. Therefore, future trainees in England and Wales are likely to take the new Solicitors’ Qualifying Examination.

Can I get a training contract with a 2:2?

Yes, it is still possible to get a training contract with a 2:2 degree.

If you were on track to achieve a 2:1 or a first but was affected by mitigating circumstances, inform the admissions team. These circumstances will be taken into account when considering your application.

Prepare any evidence of your mitigating circumstances in advance just in case the admissions team requests it.

If you aimed to get a 2:1 or higher and underperformed, you can still get a training contract, however, your options may be limited.

Law firms accepting 2:2 degrees

Looking for a training contract with a 2:2? If you have a 2:2 degree, you can still apply for a training contract at the following companies:

  • The government legal trainee scheme, for example, has a minimum academic requirement of a 2:2 in an undergraduate degree.

    ➡️Find out more about the Government Legal Trainee Scheme.
  • BLM does not screen out candidates on the basis of their academic career. They are looking for future trainees who will fit their dynamic and ideas led culture.

    ➡️Find out more about the training contract at BLM.
  • Browne Jacobson does not have minimum academic requirements for A-levels or degree.

    ➡️Find out more about the training contract at Browne Jacobson.
  • Royds Withy King’s minimum academic entry requirements is a 2:2 or above in any subject.

    ➡️Find out more about the training contract at Royds Withy King

As the competition for training contracts is intense, academic grades are used to screen candidates. However, they are not the only indicator of your potential to become a lawyer. If you underperformed at a particular stage in your academics, do the following:

  • Carry out extensive research to identify the firms and organisations that place less emphasis on academics.
  • Do everything you can to increase your chances of getting a training contract. Develop your skills and take every opportunity you can to get experience.
  • Look into all of the routes to become a lawyer. You may be eligible to do a legal apprenticeship.

    ➡️Find out more about the Level 7 Solicitors apprenticeship.

How to get a training contract at Freshfields?

To get a training contract at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, you will need to:

  • Write an 850-word personal statement
  • Pass the Watson Glaser test
  • Attend a half-day assessment
  • Pass the general interview and Analytical Interview
  • Complete a written exercise

Freshfields what we look for: preparing for the training contract application

How to get a training contract at Linklaters?

Linklaters is looking for people with a strong intellect, so your academic record will be highly regarded. You’ll need to be on track for a 2:1 in any degree discipline.

Eligible candidates will need to successfully navigate the following process to get a training contract at the magic circle law firm, Linklaters:

  • Complete the online form and the Capp online assessment
  • Do the Watson Glaser test
  • Pass the interview stage

Find out more about the training contract application process at Linklaters

Are there any books on how to get a training contract?

Yes! Some books have been published for those who wish to get a training contract. Some titles include:

Is it possible to get an in house legal training contract?

Yes, although the number of in-house legal training contracts will be very small. Companies that offer in-house vary each year.

If you are looking for an in-house training contract, you might want to consider applying for Accutrainee.

The BBC runs a Legal trainee scheme also.

We hope you found our ultimate guide on how to get a training contract useful. Ideally, it is best to prepare for your training contract applications years in advance. However, it’s never too late to take the actions that will boost your training contract applications.

It is absolutely vital that you send off high-quality application forms for the law firms that you are most suited to. In order to do this, it is vital that you conduct thorough research.

If you need help preparing for your training contract applications or interviews, get in touch!

Written by Adina Pascall