I graduated from a top university but can’t get a good job! What should I do?

Oct 23, 2020

If you graduated from a Russell Group or top university, but are struggling to find a good graduate job, this post is for you.

Dear Graduate Coach,

I graduated last year from a top university with a first-class degree in English Literature.

I’ve always been very studious throughout my academic career, striving for top grades in my GCSEs, A-levels and my degree.

Since graduating, I have been applying for jobs, but have been unsuccessful so far.

I thought that with high grades and a top uni on my CV that I would find it easy to find employment.

I need to find a good job soon so that I can move out of my parents home and climb the career ladder.

What should I do?


Thanks for getting in touch with us Thomas. There are several graduates who are in a similar situation. We have listed some pointers below to bear in mind. Our coaches will be glad to offer you one-to-one graduate career coaching to help you to secure yourself a good graduate job.

A 2:1 or 1st class degree is no longer enough

A 2:1 or even a first-class degree is not enough to impress employers. It is certainly a great personal achievement and testament to your strong work ethic. However, as tens of thousands of graduates achieve these grades each year, it is no longer a differentiator.

Furthermore, the majority of graduate schemes and graduate jobs ask for a minimum requirement of a 2:1 degree. Once a candidate has met the academic criteria, other factors are taken into consideration.

Do employers really care about where you studied?

Like the point above, where you studied is unlikely to greatly influence hiring decisions.

Historically, where you studied may have influenced hiring decisions, but now, employers strive to hire a diverse pool of candidates from regardless of what and where they studied.

Do employers care about what degree subject you studied?

For the majority of graduate jobs and schemes that are non-vocational what you studied won’t significantly influence hiring decisions as long as you meet the academic entry requirements.

Employability skills are key

So what makes candidates stand out?

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

Your employability skills will.

Every year, thousands of graduates with top degrees from top universities flood the job market. Employers have to identify and hire the most job-ready grads.

The best way to enhance your employability skills is to gain work experience and to demonstrate your skills throughout the entire job application process from your CV to your interviews.

If you went to a top university and achieved a 2:1 or a first-class degree, but you do not have any work experience, you may find it difficult to get a graduate job.

Graduate career coaching

There’s a misconception that career coaching is for executives or people in more senior roles with years of experience.

This could not be further from the truth.

Career coaching for graduates has numerous benefits.

Aside from it ultimately helping you to get a graduate job, it also helps you to:

  • Get the right job for you
  • Build a network of professional contacts
  • Gain the lifelong skill of being able to interview well
  • Learn what it takes to stand out in the competitive job market
  • Acquire the digital skills that are in high demand
    And more…

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