When to Start Looking for Graduate Jobs

Nov 17, 2019

Ideally, you’ll want to have a graduate job lined up and waiting for you when you finish university. However, this is not the reality for many graduates. Knowing when to start looking for graduate jobs is vital. 

This post will cover when you should start looking and applying for graduate jobs to give yourself the best chances of success.

It is never too early to start looking for graduate jobs

Your graduate job search can start as early as your first year of university. 

Graduate employers build talent pipelines. These are comprised first, second and final year students. 

Candidates who are a part of a company’s talent pipeline increase their chances of getting a graduate job

How to become a part of a company’s talent pipeline? 

You can become a part of different companies talent pipelines by:

  • Attending networking events and insight days
  • Attending graduate careers fairs 
  • Applying for internships, spring weeks and vacation schemes 

If you attend an insight day at a company that you are interested in, during your first year of university, you will gain an advantage when it comes to applying for a summer internship in your second year. Getting a summer internship will increase your chance of getting a graduate job at the company. 

When to Start Looking for Graduate Jobs

When to start applying for jobs before graduation 

To get a graduate job before you graduate you need to actively seek opportunities to gain as much experience and exposure as possible.  

  • First-year students – During your first year of university lookout for opportunities to attend networking events and insight days.

  • Second-year students – In your second year, look for structured summer internships, vacation schemes, spring weeks and placement year opportunities.

  • Final year students – In your last year of university, you can start sending job applications for graduate schemes before graduation. The main application window is between September and January. You can also apply for graduate jobs. These opportunities are open all year round.

As well as seeking out these opportunities, it is important that you do the following: 

  • Practice psychometric tests 
  • Look for short-term work experience placements and shadowing opportunities 
  • Improve your interview technique 
  • Understand what you will need to demonstrate at assessment centres 
  • Research the graduate recruitment process
  • Write achievement-based CVs and cover letters
  • Keep your social media profiles professional  

The above is really important if you want to start applying for jobs before graduation. 

Why it is important to apply for graduate jobs and schemes early 

All companies have different application processes for students and graduates. 

However, most graduate recruiters hire on a rolling basis meaning they make offers to suitable candidates on a first-come basis.  

When to start applying for jobs if you have already graduated 

What should you do if you haven’t secured an opportunity and you have already graduated?

Check out our post on what to do after graduation from university

If you would like to join a graduate scheme you may need to wait until the next graduate scheme application window which is between September and January. Graduate scheme start dates are usually between July and October of the following year. 

In the meantime, you could apply for graduate jobs which take applications all year round. 

To gain a deeper understanding of the difference between graduate schemes and graduate jobs read our post called “what is a graduate scheme”. 

What types of graduate jobs to look for 

Your job hunt can be extremely difficult, especially if you don’t know what you are looking for. 

If you are unsure of what graduate career is right for you, get yourself a copy of The Student Book, written by Chris Davies the founder of Graduate Coach. 

The Student Book contains everything you need to know to get the job you really want. Here are some other books for graduates who want to excel in their career. 

We also offer a six-stage one-to-one coaching programme to help students and graduates to discover their career path and get the right graduate-level job.  

When to Start Looking for Graduate Jobs: Summary 

When it comes to looking for graduate jobs, time is of the essence. If you are at university, start looking as soon as possible if you want to secure a job before graduating. 

Whilst you are at university there will be several opportunities to network with potential employers. It is a good idea to take advantage of these opportunities. 

If you have already graduated, all is not lost. You can still apply for graduate schemes starting the following year. You will also be able to start applying for graduate jobs that recruit all year round.

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