There is now more competition than ever for graduate jobs.  A degree is no longer enough on its own!  Employers in the UK want to see evidence of skills, work experience and other extra curricular activities. 

When looking for work in the UK it is vital that you understand the graduate job market and the 'rules' associated with UK employers and what they are looking for in their prospective employees.  Although there may be some similarities with your home country, it is worth considering the following points:

Applying for Jobs

It is expected that students apply directly to an employer through the organisation's application procedure.  This will allow you to promote and market your own skills, experience and knowledge in a direct way.  Application procedures vary between organisations.  Some will require you to complete a paper application or fill it in online, whilst others may request a CV and covering letter.  If you want further advice about any aspect of the job application process contact one of our Career Advisers or visit our section on job hunting skills.

Typically, employers will compile a job description and specification for each role they have available.  This will outline the key skills and qualities that they are looking for.  This is the key document you must use for matching your skills, and proving to an employer that you can do the job.

Many of the large, national graduate employers have a deadline for applications, which tends to be from October - April each year.  Therefore it is important to start applying for these types of position at the beginning of your final year of undergraduate study.  Many employers do not have specific deadlines and recruit graduates all year round depending on their needs.  Register with the Job Shop as soon as possible so that you can be made aware of opportunities that are available.

Employability Skills

Employers in the UK are keen to see applications from students and graduates who have a key set of transferrable skills which you may have gained from a number of options including part-time work, volunteering, extra-curricular activities and from your own life experiences.  The University of Bolton has defined a set of ten key skills which it thinks every student should be able to develop whilst at the university.  See our section on Employability for further information.

Selection Procedure

If you are successful at the application stage you will be required to take part in further selection procedures.  Again, these vary between organisations.  Some typical procdeures can include:

  • Telephone interviews
  • Face to face interviews
  • Assessment Centres (incorporating psychometric tests, group work discussions and observation)

Telephone interviews are carried out on a 1-1 basis.  If you are invited for a face to face interview there may be just one person undertaking the interview, or in most cases there will be a panel of people, which is often between 3-5 individuals.  Many interviews now also require the candidate to undertake a short presentation, prior to the panel asking you a set of questions.  You may be given the topic for the presentation prior to the interview, or you may only be made aware of it on the day of your interview when you turn up at the employer's premises.

Looking for Work

There are numerous ways in which you can look for graduate jobs.  A good place to start is the Careers Service.  Our staff are on hand to provide you with information and support to apply for jobs and access relevant resources.  Explore our 'looking for work' section and also visit careers resources for international students as well as our section on graduate websites.