How to find your first graduate job
Inigo, an English and Comparative Literature BA graduate from Goldsmiths, University of London, shares his advice on job hunting for new graduates. Find Inigo on LinkedIn here.
You’ve just graduated. Congratulations! But sadly, starting your search for serious employment can seem a little daunting. You don’t know where to look, what roles you’re qualified for or even what those roles you are entail. As always a quick google search is your best friend. Graduate employment schemes are being posted on job boards across the internet and - once you have honed your beautiful CV - you can begin firing off the many, many applications, paving the way to your first interviews, and hopefully to internships or a full-time position.
Which of these job boards and recruitment firms holds the keys to your future career? Some seem boring, others shady. Perhaps the first port of call is to look at graduate schemes, internships and jobs listed within the public sector. The Civil Service run many programs for recent graduates. These train applicants to develop skills that lead toward career progression and leadership roles.
Jobs in the Civil Service can be found here. If you have little experience you should look for roles that include terms such as ‘trainee’ or ‘assistant’ in the areas you are interested. This will give you access to career paths in all kinds of environments, from landscape preservation at Kew Gardens, to embassy clerical work in Iran. The Civil Service also runs a fast stream program specifically engineered for graduates which can be found at this website. On their website, they describe the fast stream as the ‘fastest route to real leadership’. These programs provide those who pass the stringent tests access to careers across all forms of government and even across the world.
But perhaps you’re more secretive. If you like hiding in the shadows there’s still room in government for you. You didn’t hear this from me… but the Secret Intelligence Service and the Security Service do have a graduate programs, as well as a job board for general applications. A warning before you apply. You will have to pass many entrance exams before will be considered for interview. Apply, but keep your eyes open for other opportunities. The competition is tough and it will take prior training. You should take the likelihood of failure on the chin. Sadly, not everyone’s cut out to be a spook. But maybe you are.
Working for the public sector is not for everyone. Especially if you want to work in the art industry. To many rules and regulations. If it’s time to pursue your calling as a gallery curator or even a theatre director Arts Jobs is the place for you. As the name suggests this is where the art industry posts its positions. Everything from Gallery Assistants to Interpretive Dancers show up here. However for graduate roles the usual search terms apply. You may find your BA qualifies you for a great many of these jobs but with the caveat that these roles expect some show of dedication to the field. You will have to adapt you cover letter and CV for each application to highlight your love of photography or your *drunken* volunteer work at every festival. Perhaps forget the drunken part. There is a small gap in the market between entry level roles and management ones. This makes it harder to find the perfect graduate position and feels as though you are only ever punching above or below your weight. In this world it’s better to know exactly where you are going, otherwise you might accidentally end up in a career cul-de-sac. ‘Started from the bottom’ beginning to sound familiar?
Luckily for many of us art does not make up the entire private sector. Roles in banking and business have always drawn recent graduates, and now tech is fast becoming the bread and butter of the ambitious graduate. Try searching Guardian Jobs or Milkround to cast a wider net. The latter specialises in graduate level careers (if only there was such a thing in the art world). You will find positions ranging from accounting to security and everywhere in between. Here you are finally unleashed from qualifying search terms. Instead their search engines can filter positions to show only entry level and graduate jobs. There are hundreds of positions that you, given the right application, are qualified to fill! Exciting. But this does leave you sorting through the recruitment jargon trying to find out what each position means. There are graduate schemes for analytics, marketing, recruitment and computing – to name a few – all with industry leaders who look to foster ambition and progress in their future employees. As well as guarantee them staying in their business for multiple years. It is a good idea to research some of these companies as it is likely you will never have heard of them before and it is often hard to tell what the company does from the job description.
There are also recruitment companies like BrighterBox who take a more nuanced approach to connecting graduates with their future careers. Recruitment specialises in linking recent graduates with specific careers thus removing some of the randomness of job applications. For instance, BrighterBox fosters connections in the start-up and tech industries. This allows you to search for work in a market that particularly interests you, as well as knitting your recruitment closer to your hopes and expectations. It must be noted that your dedication and qualifications play a greater role here. These companies are looking for strong applicants who they know will fill roles in industry with confidence and skill. Establishing this often involves phone calls between the recruitment agency and the graduate to reach an understanding of their skill level, ambition and confidence. In such cases, be prepared to answer questions about your future and what kind of career progression short, medium and long term you expect as well as difficult questions about what kind of wage packet you would like.
There may be many rejections ahead of you. It will almost certainly take a combination of these sites and more before you find the role you are looking for and yet more time to master your application. Now, armed with knowledge on how to begin your attack, you must not forget dedication is key. We all know there is a job out there for you!