Unemployed with a Master’s Degree [What To Do Next]

Nov 13, 2019

You’ve embarked on furthering your education by studying for a Master’s. You hoped that this experience would give you the edge when it came to applying for graduate jobs. However, this hasn’t been the case and now you have found yourself unemployed with a Master’s degree.  

If you are in this situation, don’t worry, help is available.

In this post, we will share advice on how you can turn your master’s degree into a career that is right for you.

Master’s degrees and employability 

Unemployed with a Master's Degree

It is important that we first talk about the effect of a master’s degree on your employability. Then we will cover what you can do to find work as a graduate. 

“I have a master’s degree and no job.” If this statement resonates with you, maybe one of the main reasons you did your master’s was to improve your employability. 

However, this is not always the case. 

Employability can be defined as the quality of being suitable for paid work.

All university courses are designed to give students the opportunity to develop employability skills regardless of what degree they study. 

Some examples of skills you’ll gain at university include teamwork from working on group assignments and communication from writing essays. 

Therefore, having a degree, undergraduate or postgraduate, isn’t a differentiator. Or in other words, it won’t necessarily help you to stand out. Having varied work experiences and being able to articulate how you have developed your skills will impress graduate recruiters.

Furthermore, the majority of graduate jobs and graduate schemes have a minimum requirement of a 2:1 at undergraduate level.

So to summarise, having a master’s degree doesn’t make you stand out amongst other candidates with master’s. Secondly, the majority of graduate recruiters ask for a minimum of an undergraduate degree. Once these entry requirements have been met, employers will be more interested in a candidates ability to demonstrate skills and competencies. Having work experiences helps candidates to do this. 

The exceptions

There are a few cases in which having a master’s may help you to get a job

  1. You did a master’s degree that has given you specialist knowledge for a specific role.

    Around 10% of graduate jobs are classified as being specialist roles. Graduate employers hire graduates with specialist degrees for their specific knowledge.

    A few graduate jobs ask for a master’s degree in a specific subject.

  2. You didn’t get a 2:1 at undergraduate level 


Some companies state that if candidates did not achieve a 2:1 in their bachelor’s degree then they accept a 2:2 with a master’s degree.

However, this is not always the case so it is important to do research. 

What to do if you are unemployed with a master’s degree 

Now we will share some tips on what to do if you have a master’s degree but can’t find a job. The advice we share is action-based which means implementing it will help you. 

Identify your career typology 

The first thing to do if you are unemployed with a master’s degree is to identify your career typology.

All graduate jobs can be classified into three categories:

  • Communicator
  • Knowledge architect 
  • Specialist 

To find out your career typology, read page 65 of The Student Book. It will help you with your job search by helping you to determine what sort of job is right for you. 

Tip: Before you apply for a job, work out which of the three career typologies you align with most. Once you have done this, you will be able to narrow down your job search. This will be very helpful if you don’t know what to do after graduation from university

Think about your employability skills

According to the confederation of British Industry (CBI), there are nine skills that are essential for employability. These are:

  • Numeracy 
  • Information technology 
  • Entrepreneurship 
  • Communication 
  • Business awareness 
  • Team working 
  • Self-management 
  • Problem-solving 
  • Resilience

Chapter 2 of The Student Book explains each of these key skills. 

Just because you are unemployed after uni, it doesn’t mean that you are unemployable. This is because you have a set of skills. 

It is vital that you demonstrate your skills throughout the entire graduate recruitment process. 

Task: For each of the nine key employability skills above write a few lines explaining how you have demonstrated these skills in the past. 

You may have demonstrated these skills for full time or part-time work, internships or shadowing experience.   

If you do not have any work experience start searching for some work experience that will allow you to gain and develop your skills

Brush up on your interview skills 

If you keep failing interviews you will definitely benefit from some interview coaching. Interview coaching will teach you lifelong skills such as verbal communication and presentation skills as well as helping you to boost your confidence and beat interview nerves

We also have an online interview course called: “Nail that Interview”. The course condenses our learnings from over 20 000+ hours of learnings over the past 10 years. Try the first module for free.

Get help 

We can help you to get a job after your master’s degree.

We offer a six stage one-to-one coaching programme. It is designed to not only help you to find a job but to find the right job for you. Navigating the graduate job market can be tricky but with the right help, the process can be a lot easier. 

During the course, you will discover your career path, improve your CV, learn how to write effective cover letters and ultimately land a graduate job.

Over the past decade, we have helped several graduates who were unemployed with a master’s degree to get a graduate job. 

Unemployed with a master’s degree: summary

We know that it can be stressful being an unemployed graduate especially if you have invested extra time and money into attaining a master’s degree. 

Regardless of your situation, all hope isn’t lost. The good news is that there are a lot of things you can do to get a graduate-level job, and there’s help available. 

If you would like more information on how we can help you, do not hesitate to contact us

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