Advice & Hacks
When To Apply For Graduate Jobs
Wondering when to apply for graduate jobs in the UK? We look at the best times of year to begin the graduate job search.
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If you’re due to graduate from university and beginning to consider your next steps, the question of when to apply for graduate jobs may be at the forefront of your mind…
Finishing university can be a time filled with uncertainty and anxiety over the future, but we’re here to help make the transition from student to graduate as stress-free as possible.
Before we get into when it’s best to start your graduate job search, remember you can continue to access hundreds of student discounts and deals with TOTUM even after you’ve graduated. Find out more about our Alumni scheme here to keep saving even when you’re no longer a student!
What is a graduate job?
A graduate job - also known as a graduate scheme - is a permanent role specifically designed for recent graduates to help them begin their career in a particular industry/sector.
Graduate jobs can last anywhere from one to three years and will typically involve the graduate receiving on-the-job training and gaining experience and insight into a number of departments across the company.
Some graduate jobs can be very competitive for a number of reasons, including the type of industry, the employer, and the starting salary. For this reason, you’ll want to stand out from other graduates going for the same roles, and you can do this by gaining work experience during your time at university whether that’s in the form of an internship or volunteering.
Graduate scheme employers will also be extremely interested in the soft skills you have, particularly in the likes of time management, organisation, taking initiative and being a team player.
When should I apply for graduate jobs?
Generally speaking, most graduate jobs begin in the September after you’ve graduated from university.
However this isn’t always the case, with different industries having different recruitment cycles.
The top employers begin their graduate application process up to a year before the start date, so you’ll want to be looking from as early as the start of your final year.
Here are some general tips on when to apply for graduate jobs…
Research your industry
Applying for graduate jobs isn’t a one-size-fits-all process; application times can vary by industry.
For this reason, you’ll want to research the industry you’re hoping to go into to find out exactly when employers begin recruiting for graduate roles, making a note of the key dates.
If you want to work in finance for example, the recruitment cycle often starts in the autumn of your final year of university, with applications due in early winter.
On the other hand, other industries may have more flexible recruitment cycles, with graduates able to apply at any point during their final year.
Consider how long it will take to complete your application
When you first begin applying for graduate jobs, you may be surprised by how long the application process can take. Some employers require graduates to go into a lot of detail about their skills, experience and knowledge within their application, as they want to be sure that they’re finding somebody who is the right fit for the company.
Even after completing your application, there is a lot of work to do. Many graduate employers will request multiple interview rounds before deciding on the candidate, and this can often consist of preparing interview tasks such as presentations or written work.
This is something to bear in mind when applying for a grad role, as you don’t want to leave yourself too little time to complete everything to a high standard.
Search for job vacancies
Remember to keep a look out for graduate job vacancies in your relevant industry, as there will likely be specific application windows for many grad schemes.
You can browse on specific company websites if there are certain employers you have your eye on, leading job websites such as Indeed, Reed, Totaljobs and LinkedIn, and graduate-specific job websites such as Milkround, GradTouch, targetjobs and more.
Sally Bracegirdle from GradTouch reinforces that graduates should start looking from September of their final year, writing: “Between the months of September and December lots of the UK’s biggest employers (and some smaller ones too) will begin recruiting for next year’s intake of graduates.
“They start hiring so far in advance because their screening processes are often quite long, with multiple stages of interviews, assessment centres and training days to get through before the programme commences.”
It’s also worth checking the social media pages of any employers you’re interested in working for, as job listings will often be shouted out on their platforms.
Take into consideration your personal timeline
Most importantly, you need to decide when exactly is the best time for you to commence a graduate scheme.
If you want to go straight from graduating into a grad role, you should definitely apply in advance as mentioned above (the first term of your final year).
But if you want a gap year first or just a few months off before jumping into the world of work, you may want to hold off on applying for September’s intake.
Instead, you can check out graduate scheme employers with winter intakes, or even apply for the following year’s September intake instead.
For more tips and advice on all things graduation, check out our recent guides:
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