Career Guidence Centre » Graduate Careers » First Steps for Graduates

First Steps for Graduates

So, you've worked hard for three, four, five… years to obtain that degree, now what?

It's never too early to start thinking about employment. You may have started your degree with a clear career plan and you know exactly where to begin; lucky you! For everyone else who has a vague idea or absolutely no idea what they can do with their degree, do not worry, there are thousands of graduates in the same position as you.

Follow our five simple steps to start your graduate career:

1) Identify your skills

By identifying what skills you've gained from your degree you will be able to pin point what you can offer a future employer. Whether you have work experience or not this is a great way to shape your next career move. Your degree is much more than just a title and you need to feel confident in sharing your new skills with potential employers.

As a graduate you may feel like you have no 'real skills'; everything you've learnt has been in a lecture hall. But you're wrong. Think about your group projects, analysis, practical and written work, deadlines and organisation, presentations and IT knowledge… the list goes on.

“Your degree is much more than just a title and you need to feel confident in sharing your new skills with potential employers.”

2) Narrow down your options

So, now you know what skills you have you need to figure out what industry and position they are suited to. A lot of graduates have transferable skills so, for instance, if you studied accounting but couldn't wait for it to end you can use those skills in a host of other industries.

You probably have two or three industries in mind that would suit you; do some research and find out what role you would see yourself in in ten years. Now, how do you get there? Even as a graduate you may have to start at the bottom; assistant and executive roles are a great place to begin your career.

During your research you may find you have some gaps in your skills. Worry not, there are ample opportunities for graduates in the UK to enhance their skills and experience. Choose from an array of further study courses, internships, voluntary work, training courses and travel opportunities.

3) Your CV

Even if you already have a CV chances are you've been concentrating so much on your degree that it is in serious need of updating. There's probably a lot more you can include now, other than that summer you spent waitressing in the local cafe.

Start with your skills and concentrate on your degree. Many graduates don't have much work experience so you need your CV to be shaped around what you do know: your studies. Always open your CV with the most relative information for the job you're applying to. The employer will want to know what you can offer them; even if you don't have work experience in that particular role your degree would have given you skills you can transfer in to the 'working world'.

You have a degree and you've worked hard for it, so be proud. By selecting specific modules you studied which go hand in hand with the role you're applying for you are highlighting how you would be a valuable asset to the company.

Follow CV-Library's CV tips for more advice on putting your graduate CV together.

“Many graduates don't have much work experience so you need your CV to be shaped around what you do know: your studies.”

4) Find jobs

So, now you know where you want to work, you know what skills you can offer and you have the perfect CV, you need to find the jobs.

Online job boards, such as CV-Library, are the perfect place to start. You can search and apply to thousands of jobs directly from your computer and by registering your CV recruiters will be able to headhunt you.

As a generalist job board CV-Library has live jobs available in all sectors, whether you're looking for an IT job, sales vacancy or marketing career we're advertising the jobs for you. Recruitment agencies and employers from across the UK use CV-Library to advertise their vacancies so you can find them all in one place.

We also recommend the more traditional routes of checking in the job section of your local newspaper and registering with a recruitment agency; this can be particularly useful if you're looking to work in a niche sector.

5) The perfect application

Employers want to know you've put some thought into applying to their job. You might get away with using the same CV for a few applications but your cover letter must reflect the individual position you're applying for. This will demonstrate that you've researched the role, read the job description carefully and you have a real interest in working for this particular company.

Follow our graduate cover letter basics to get your foot in the door.