How Easy is it to Get a Graduate Job?

Written by: Rachel Barton
Published on: 2 Mar 2021

Students & graduates career advice

It is no secret that today’s generation of students face greater challenges when attempting to apply for jobs than that of a generation ago. The interview processes are lengthier, there are more applicants and there is a greater emphasis on having obtained some form of practical experience in the job role you are applying for.

With this in mind; how can give yourself the greatest chance of securing your dream job?


When is the best time to apply to a graduate job?

Throughout the year, companies will advertise new graduate jobs. However, the largest volume are often released during May-July and then again in September-November. The first trend marks the period in which employers reach out to the newly graduated university students. The latter trend often mirrors how the interview process for graduate jobs can often take up to six months, so graduates are often selected on a six-monthly basis. With this in mind, it may be worth timing any holidays around these peaks, in order to optimise your chance of securing your dream job.


Should you choose a grad job or a non-grad job?

Another option you face is opting to apply for non-graduate roles. Sometimes the same position within the company is available, but applications are not limited simply to graduates. A large proportion of graduates end up in non-graduate roles. This is not necessarily a bad outcome as the interview processes can be shorter thus, you will be earning sooner. Furthermore, as noted in a survey conducted by the Telegraph, statistics showed that ‘on average, employers have received 39.2 applications per vacancy, although for some industries it is much higher.’  Similarly, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development noted, ‘Overall, 58.8% of graduates are in jobs deemed to be non-graduate roles’. Non-graduate jobs on average received fewer applications. For this reason, you should apply to both graduate and non-graduate posts. You do not have to choose either camp.


How many applications on average will you need to make before a positive response?

A recent survey conducted by the Independent concluded that ‘Nearly 40 per cent of graduates are looking for work six months after graduation, while a quarter are still unemployed after a year, according to new research.’

With statistics such as these, it’s time to take action. How can you best aid your chances?

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Streamline your application process

Check your CV & Cover Letter for these frequent faux pas

Your CV and cover letter are your first chances to sell yourself and to make a good first impression. It is also a sample of the quality of the work you can produce, so don’t ever underestimate their importance. Below, we have put together a step by step guide as to how to construct the most punchy and memorable (for the right reasons!) CV and cover letter. 


Step One: Presentation / Content

Do not: Present to your interviewer a CV or cover letter that has; been overly creased, been written by hand, been written in size 18 Comic Sans or has been printed on coloured paper. And please, never use purple, blue or other coloured ink claiming your printer ran out of black ink. Finally, the use of humour or pictures is rarely appropriate.

Do: Set your CV out in a professional, standardised format.

As noted by Inside Careers the order of information should be as follows:

Personal details: Ensure that your contact information is current, especially if updating a CV. You should include your email address, contact address and mobile number.

Qualifications: List this in order of prominence.

Training: Make sure that the information in concise, recent and relevant.

Employment: Again, relevant, recent information. Dog walking for your Uncle bears little relevance to an engineering post.

Interests: Employers wish to see balanced candidates who will interact well with their existing staff. Talking passionately about your hobby is good, but do not be tempted to ramble. Also, you should attempt to relate your hobby to the post that you are applying for. For example, when applying for the position of PE teacher, running your own sports club would be worth mentioning.

References: You should provide an academic / professional referee as well as a character referee. Always ask permission when before citing their details as not only is this good manners, they are more likely to provide a glowing reference if they have time to contemplate your reference.

Tip: Ask yourself, does your C.V. and cover letter look visually attractive? Overly busy or overly bare could result in deterring the interviewer from wanting to read your document.


Step Two: Quality

Graduates often underestimate the importance of good grammar. Some all too common mistakes include using the wrong forms of your / you’re, it’s / its or their, there and they’re. This is something that most primary school students have mastered, so there’s no excuse!

Another big C.V and cover letter faux pas is creating one document to suit all. By not tailoring your content to the specific role, you do not appear that interested in working for their company in particular. Read exactly what the candidate specification is and then interpret and apply; do not simply repeat their job description.


Step Three: Quantity

Your C.V should be concise, but not bare. If you have under 10 years of professional experience, you should keep your CV to a2 sides of A4 in length. For this reason, you should carefully select what content is worthy of your CV and cover letter.


Step Four: Be optimistic

It is essential that you learn to pick yourself up from ‘failure’. Being constructive, bouncing back and having a good mental attitude is more likely to stand you in better stead for your next interview.

Sometimes failing at one thing can offer you better opportunities with another.

Make sure that you:

  1. Learn from your mistakes
  2. Ask for constructive criticism and feedback
  3. Thank the interviewer when face-to-face after having interviewed you. It is also worth thanking them when you hear a response either via phone or email.
  4. Properly read and analyse the constructive criticism you have received.

‘Talveer from The Knowledge Academy states, ‘learning from your mistakes is vital; ask for feedback and analyse the constructive criticism you have been given. This way, you can be proactive and evaluate what you can do better next time.’

Good luck in your job search!