Graduate Roles: Guide for Final Year Students

Guides 15 Feb 2023 / 6 mins read

By Owen Redman

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If you’re in your final year of university, talk of applying to graduate roles might be rampant amongst your friends. You’ll probably hear about ‘graduate jobs’ and ‘graduate schemes’.

But what are graduate jobs and graduate schemes? First, let’s work out the difference.

Graduate jobs

Graduate or ‘grad’ jobs are positions at companies open specifically for new graduates. You can find graduate jobs across all types of industries, and you can apply year round. 

Graduate jobs vary from company to company, but once on board, you will usually receive some level of specialist training. As these are positions open just for people who have recently graduated from university, there should be someone to support you as you transition.

Graduate schemes

Graduate schemes are slightly different, in that they are formal programmes with set application windows. They are very competitive and the application process can be long. However, the salaries will usually be higher than other entry-level jobs.

Graduate schemes offer very structured training over a set period of time; usually between 12 to 36 months. In this time, you will rotate around departments and learn about multiple areas of the business.

Now you know what the difference is, these are our top tips for applying for graduate roles!

Start your job search early

There are so many different graduate roles on offer, and they are often very competitive! To give yourself the best possible chance of securing a graduate job or scheme, start your search early. This will allow you more time to work on each individual application, and will help to ensure that you don’t miss out on any significant application dates!

Use websites like Milkround, GraduateJobs and LinkedIn’s ‘Job Search’ feature to find out what positions are available. Browse for companies that you would be interested in working for and check which roles they have for graduates; there will likely be useful information on application dates. 

Research the company and the role

Researching the company and the role that you are applying to is really important! Make sure to understand the company’s mission, values and culture, as well as the specific responsibilities and requirements of the role that you are applying for. This will help you to tailor your application and demonstrate how you align with the company. 

Conducting proper research into the company and the role will also help you to ask interesting questions to the hiring manager if you reach the interview stage. Here are some ways to start your research:

  1. Check the company’s website: here you will find details about the company’s background and ethos. You’ll also find key information about their products and services, as well as the company’s structure and future plans.
  2. Take a look at the company’s social media accounts: this will give you an interesting insight into how the company portrays itself publicly. 
  3. Read articles about the company: see what recent developments and news are being shared in the media.

graduate role

Tailor each individual application

Tailoring each individual application to the specific role and company that you are applying for is a good habit when it comes to graduate roles. Sending a personalised application that displays excellent knowledge of the role and the company, rather than a generic application, shows the hiring manager that you have invested real time and effort. 

Customise your CV and cover letter for the specific role and company.

Your CV should:

  • Highlight experiences relevant to the role.
  • Include skills that are mentioned in the job description.
  • Use specific examples of achievements that demonstrate your suitability as a candidate.

Your cover letter should:

  • Explain why you are a fit for the role and the company.
  • Discuss your motivations for applying.

Check out this YouTube video for tips on writing great cover letters.

Network and reach out

Networking is crucial when it comes to applying for graduate roles! Putting yourself out of your comfort zone to talk to people and form new connections can make all the difference.

Attend job fairs, industry events and alumni days to meet potential employers and learn about different industries. Events like these run throughout the year, and your university might even host some. Keep an eye open! 

LinkedIn is also a really great channel for networking, as it makes interacting with professionals from any industry, company or role very easy. Use LinkedIn to your advantage by following professionals and thought leaders, sending connection requests, and private messaging anyone that you’d like to speak with or ask questions to. 

It might feel nerve-wracking to reach out to new people, but the benefits of doing so shouldn’t be undersold! Networking can help you to get a foot in the door and make connections that lead to job opportunities. You never know which of your connections might one day recommend you for a role. Be proactive and friendly, and it will pay off!

Work on your interview skills

Interviewing for a graduate role can feel pretty daunting, but it’s not as scary as it might seem! With good practice, you’ll ace your interview skills. 

The first step is to prepare for common interview questions and practise your responses with a friend or mentor. This will help you to become more assertive when answering questions in a more formal setting.

As we spoke about before, researching the company and the role is important practice for interviews, as it will allow you to ask intelligent, informed questions.

You should also work on non-verbal communication skills, such as maintaining eye contact, smiling, actively listening, and having confident posture. Strong non-verbal communication skills will show the hiring manager that you are relaxed and prepared for the interview. 

During the interview, try to treat it more like a conversation than an interrogation! Listen carefully, and give clear and concise answers to any questions. It’s okay to give yourself a moment to think- try to avoid rambling or going off on unnecessary tangents.

Follow up after an interview

After an interview, it’s a good idea to follow up. You should send a thank-you note or email to the interviewer, thanking them for their time and reiterating your continued interest in the role and the company. 

If you don’t hear back from the company after a week or two, it’s perfectly acceptable to enquire about the status of your application. Do so in a polite and professional manner. 

Keep an open mind

Above all, be sure to keep an open mind whilst applying for graduate roles! There are so many positions, industries and companies on offer, so don’t limit yourself. Be open to exploring opportunities and trying new things. 

Good luck with your application process for graduate jobs and schemes! This is probably quite a stressful time for you, so remember to look after yourself and seek help if you need it.

Be sure to check out the Roome website, where we post loads of tips and tricks for university students every single week. Follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok and Facebook to learn more about how we’re revolutionising the student housing market!

Posted by Owen Redman

Co-founder of Roome

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