With September right around the corner, we've rounded up some of our best tips and advice to help new graduates make the most out of this important time.
If you're looking to score a new graduate job or secure a place in a graduate scheme now is the time to start applying. Graduate season is the period of time right after graduation, when employers open up their graduate programmes and start bringing on new grads into their business.
But you don't have to be a final-year student to take advantage of this time, in fact, the sooner you're aware of it the better. Here are some of our favourite tips to help get you grad season-ready:
1. Make sure your CV is up-to-date and clear
Yeah, we know. You've probably heard this advice time and time again - but it's true. Your CV and covering letter needs to be up-to-date and ATS-friendly if you want to avoid it getting lost in the void.
If you don't know, ATS stands for Applicant Tracking System and is a software used by many recruiters to sort through electronic applications. It also keeps track of each step in the application process, from the posting of the job offer all the way through to submitted and classifying your application.
Unfortunately, it can often have trouble "reading" complex CVs, so make sure you're not wasting time (and money!) on those fancy CV templates. All those colours, columns, and extras can actually be hurting you in the application process, since the ATS will struggle to read your document. Instead, keep it simple, black and white, and under two pages. You should also save all your documents as .Doc or .Docx instead of PDF - often when you submit a PDF you're just submitted a photo of the document, meaning any relevant keywords you use won't be picked up by the system.
2. Consider all your options
Now before you starting submitting your perfectly-tailored CVs left and right, it's important to know what you're looking for. Graduate season will bring a lot of options for you, so here's a quick breakdown of the kinds of positions you're likely to find around this time:
- Graduate job: A graduate job is an entry-level position with and employer or company. Although you'll normally have a short period of training at the start of this role, most of your experience will come from learning on the job. It's a great option for those who want a boots-on-the-ground approach to their postgraduate career.
- Graduate scheme: A graduate scheme is a work-based training programme, which usually last for 2-3 years. You'll be "hosted" by a company or employer for this duration and often rotate through multiple sectors of the business such as Finance, HR, Operations, etc. in order to get a feel for the role that suits you best. At the end of your scheme, you'll take on a full-time graduate role with the company.
- Internship: An internship can be a little more elusive than graduate jobs or schemes; they're often not as widely advertised as these other positions. Because of this, it's a good idea to contact some of the companies you're hoping to work for directly and ask them about their available intern positions. Internships can be either full-time, part-time, paid, or unpaid, so make sure you're aware of this.
- Work placement: Placements are time-limited periods of work experience. Unlike graduate schemes, they often don't end in full-time employment, which makes them a great option for those who are still in school, have limited time to offer, or can;t otherwise commit to a full-time role. You'll still gain valuable experience in your industry without being tied down to one employer for an extended period of time.
3. Know when to apply
Each of these positions will have their own optimal time for applying. To give you the best shot of securing a role, we've also included the best times to submit your application below:
- Graduate job: Available year-round, with seasonal peaks in April-May and September-November.
- Graduate scheme: Most open in September, with the start date for the successful candidate(s) being the following August/September. If you're looking to secure a position right after graduation, then it's best to apply the year before you graduate to allow for any interviews, assessment centres, and tests.
- Internship: Available year-round, with season peaks in summer. Lots of students take on summer internships between semesters, so try contacting your university or colleges careers centre to find available places.
- Work placement: Available year-round, but can get a little more competitive at the end of the academic year. Like internships, many university courses offer placement years or set placements periods as part of certain degrees, so be sure to check with your programme leader.
4. Start networking and making connections
Our fourth and final time is maybe another one you've heard countless times before: get out there and start making connections.
It's an oldie, but it's true. Sometimes, it's not what you know, but who you know. The sooner you can start making connection in your desired industry, the better. If you're still a student, attending careers fairs and employability events is a great way to build your professional network and open industry doors.
Failing that, head to LinkedIn and start searching up your fellow alumni and get connecting. Trust us, you'll be surprised by how many of your old school mates have ended up in big companies. A position might not fall into your lap, but if you're sincere in your message, then you're more than likely going to get some advice, tips, or well-wishes thrown your way.
Ready to start your graduate career this September? Sign up to GradTouch to stay up-to-date with all of our exciting graduate opportunities, and get ready for your new start.