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Grad Jobs: There is Hope Out There


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With figures released today from the Office for National Statistics revealing record-levels of unemployment amongst 16 to 24 year-olds, the employment market looks bleak.

There is no doubt that the task of finding a job after university seems more difficult than ever. However, here at TNS we are aware that despite these figures, there are jobs out there and there are graduates getting them. So to prove that it’s not all completely doom and gloom, we’ve chatted to a few of them to find out how they got their jobs, what advice they’d give, and why it’s not only all horror stories... 

Sophie started at a PR company when she graduated just over a year ago. She is now Senior Account Executive

‘Have the confidence to break away from graduate schemes – they’re not right for everyone – and don’t wait for companies to advertise job vacancies, just drop them an email! When I was looking to get into the PR industry, I used Google and PR Week (the leading industry magazine) to find exciting, creative companies I could see myself working for. I sent tailored, speculative applications to my favourite agencies – a strategy that secured me five interviews and, eventually, a fantastic job. The Managing Director of the company I now work for has since told me that in taking this different approach I passed the first test – initiative. 

‘Make yourself stand out. Employers are looking for smart, savvy graduates with common sense and a fresh outlook, so think about how you can shout about who you are and what you have to offer in new, creative ways. I can say from experience that, in the fiercely competitive world of PR, a dull, bullet pointed CV just isn’t going to cut it. For me, presenting my experience and academic results as an infographic, including blog links and testimonials, was an instant conversation starter. 

‘The key to finding a job in this market is starting early – I took internships and work experience placements from my first year at university, and not necessarily with businesses in the industry I’ve ended up in. Only by trying out different industries, professions and companies will you find what you really want to do, and by making the most of a variety of internship opportunities you will be infinitely more employable post-graduation. Yes, this job market is tough and graduate level positions are no longer ten a penny, but ultimately it’s down to you to have the drive, ambition and confidence to put yourself in a strong position.’ 

Will finished his degree in Biochemistry this year and has recently began work as a Lab Technician this week

‘I found the job on, and because I have direct lab experience through my degree I think they thought I was well qualified and experienced for the role. A good CV really helps and I would make sure that you show off.  Absolutely spend time tailoring your application for each role, it’s pointless otherwise. Yes the job market is though, so apply for everything you can find. However, you’ll get there eventually so do not panic.’ 

Matt graduated with a degree in Chemistry this summer and has started on a Credit Risk Analysis graduate scheme with one of the UK’s largest banks and financial services company

‘I found this position through a recruitment presentation at university about the graduate scheme, before applying on the website when I then went through online testing, a telephone interview, then two assessment centres. 

‘I think representing my skill set in a way was what made me stand out for the job I was applying to. A lot of large companies score your CV by university, A-levels, extra-curricular interests and activities, work experience etc. so it’s important to really consider what the job asks for and emphasise these parts in your CV/application. Once past the screening process it’s just a matter of being confident in your abilities, knowing about the company and job role and being able to pass the assessment centre(s). 

‘Assuming you can get onto a graduate scheme, these are definitely one of the best ways to kick start your career. I can only speak from a financial services perspective, but the majority of senior positions are held by people who were on graduate schemes at some point and I can only imagine this trend to increase with time. The only other advice is network as much and as best you can, it’s a great way to get a job and it’s also incredibly important when in the job also – unfortunately it really isn’t what you know, it’s who you know.’ 

Lizzie has been working as  Merchandiser for the UK’s biggest retail companies for almost 18 months after graduating with a 2:1 in Geography

‘If I’m honest then I’m not sure really the exact reason why I got my job. I found it on a job website and thought that the job hunt seemed relatively easy. My role wasn’t on a graduate scheme though, so was less competitive – hopefully it’ll do me well in the future though!’ 

Chantelle also graduated this summer, with a 2:1 degree in Business Management; she’s currently working at one of the country’s biggest commercial banks in their Sales department

‘I originally targeted graduate schemes with companies I specifically wanted to work for, with mixed responses. Many I never heard back from, a couple I had interviews with, and one invited me to an assessment centre. 

‘On one occasion though after finding out I was unsuccessful after my telephone interview I phoned them to ask for feedback and ask why. After a conversation generally just chatting to the person at the other end of the phone about the role and the process, she surprisingly invited me to attend an interview, reversing their original decision. It turns out they were impressed with my interview, but I did quite badly on my online testing; I practiced for the tests more, and got through to the next round. Although I was ultimately unsuccessful in getting on their grad scheme, I think that this proves that it’s good to show a genuine interest, prepare for tests properly, and never say never. 

‘I ultimately got the most success in my applications through recruitment agencies. I made sure my CV was online on many of the job websites and online recruitment agencies, and before long they were constantly contacting me about positions. I got a couple of offers through this process, including where I am working now.

‘I never expected to be able to work for such a great company on such a good salary without getting onto a grad scheme, but here I am. I love my job, and I would recommend taking alternative routes that what you would expect. Be flexible – your first job won’t be the one you’ll have for the rest of your life, and once you’re employed it’s like you’re in the club. You’ve now got contacts and experience that only make you stand out even more when you apply for your next position in a few years.’ 


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