Job Hunting Tips For Graduates: Where to Work

There are many suitable opportunities for graduates, but not all of them include ‘graduate’ in the job title.

Job Hunting Tips For Graduates: Where to Work

Where do graduates work?

Some organisations regularly hire graduates into training schemes. However, due to the 2018/9 recession, a third of top employers cut their graduate recruitment budget and vacancies by 7% as compared with graduate recruitment in 2019. Not all graduates go straight into employment – 16% of 2020/8 graduates went on to further study.

The range of starting salaries for graduates is broad. Although the number of graduate vacancies is falling, starting salaries in some industries are set to increase by an impressive 6% in 2010. The average graduate salary is around £18,000, but be aware that many graduates are paid a lot less.

Graduate entrants should expect to develop their skills and industry knowledge quickly. As well as individual employees’ skills and experience, levels of pay are determined by many factors, including:

  •  the nature of the work;
  • competition and popularity of certain jobs;
  • economic change and business success;
  • requirement for professional qualifications;
  • geographical region;
  • sector and industry.

Though the large employers may be more visible, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with up to 250 employees have become more important in the graduate market, offering variety, responsibility and rewards to rival the big names.

What type of employer suits me?

Finding an organisation that suits you is as important as choosing the right occupation. There are pros and cons with any employer.

Large employers

These are often household names and traditionally key graduate recruiters. They tend to offer structured career development and support for employees studying for professional qualifications.

A whole cohort of graduates may be recruited together, with planned social events. Graduate entrants may earn high salaries and gain early responsibility. There may also be scope to experience different business functions.

On the other hand, the hours may be long and the work highly pressured. Some new entrants may also find their career development options restricted by the organisation’s long-term plans.

Small and medium-sized enterprises

SMEs may provide the chance to enjoy a wider involvement in issues affecting the whole organisation from the start. They may also offer variety of workload and flexible conditions. In smaller organisations, you may get to know all your colleagues rather than just those in your own department.

The down side is there may be less frequent opportunities for advancement without changing employers, and starting salaries may be slightly lower.


Setting up a business or self-employment is likely to suit self-motivated and well-organised graduates who value autonomy. The freedom to choose assignments and make independent decisions is balanced by the need to take responsibility for all tasks, including mundane or difficult ones.

Whatever size of employer you prefer, there are three main sectors of employment for you to choose from, each with its own characteristics:

Private sector

  • deliver profits to investors;
  • operate in competitive markets;
  • higher salaries;
  • commercial awareness is valued.

Public sector

  • delivery of goods and services by or for the government;
  • exists to serve the public interest;
  • includes healthcare, education, local and national government;
  • may offer greater security of employment.

Voluntary sector (also called the ‘third sector’)

  • charities and not-for-profit organisations;
  • offers both paid and unpaid posts;
  • sector experience is very important for entry.

Choosing your location

Your dream job is unlikely to be on your doorstep, so you may need to move to a new area. Metropolitan areas have a greater concentration of businesses, offering more opportunities. However, there are certain types of work or specialism that are clustered in specific places. For example, there are jobs in ports and airports that do not exist elsewhere. Always take into account how you will get to work and the time it will take. If you are considering relocating, remember to research the local area; this can easily be done by reading the local newspaper and researching online.

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