Short-term options after graduation

It’s easy to become disheartened by media reports about the graduate job market, so it’s important to work at staying resilient and make the most of every day.

You may still be unsure of what you want to do or you may have an idea but not know how to go about making it a reality. You may even have been applying for opportunities but not been successful yet. Careers Network is still here to help you for the first twelve months after your graduation, whatever stage you’re at. We have expert Advisers who can help you to get started with choosing or pursuing your dream job and help you to develop the skills to manage every aspect of the recruitment process leading up to it.

Graduating and still don’t know what you want to do?

Careers Network has a wealth of resources, both online and in the centre, which you can use to help you. Look at our online resource for help with choosing what to do.

No experience is wasted: even everyday experiences can help you to develop greater self-awareness of what you do and don’t want from a job, as well as the kind of job you would ultimately like to work in. Every experience is valuable, whether it is looking for work, work experience or internships, networking, paid work, voluntary work, extracurricular activities, or travelling, and can help to stimulate where your interests and motivations lie, as well as developing you and your transferable skills.

Know what you want to do but not how to get into your chosen career?

These days finding a job can be a lot less structured than it used to be and while some jobs are still advertised in the traditional way, many are now found via contacts, social media, speculative approaches and gaining work experience in the industry.

The way jobs are advertised, promoted and secured varies in different sectors and it is really important to research how it’s done in the job sector you are interested in. You can use the job pages on the prospects website to find out about where jobs might be advertised or which companies you should try approaching. Use the ‘job types’ option to search for the job you are interested in and click on the ‘employers and vacancy sources’ link.


Unfortunately job offers are unlikely to find you so you will need to be proactive and find them. Networking will be really important over the next few months. This might mean attending specific conferences and events for the sector you are interested in to meet people face to face, or it might mean starting to develop an online presence and making connections with professional organisations and societies where people who work in the sector connect. It might also simply mean talking to your friends and family to let them know what you are looking for and find out if they know anyone who works in the industry. You’ll be surprised at how far you can get just with the people you already know.

Networking can be a bit intimidating, especially if you are talking to people you haven’t met before. It’s best not to go straight in with ‘can I have a job?’ but have something interesting to say about the industry based on your research, ask them about their role and maybe end by saying you are available for some work experience. It is important to be friendly, approachable and open to suggestions and advice. Try to be memorable for all the right reasons.

Work experience

Work experience can be a great way into job opportunities whether it is via a formal internship placement, an unpaid work experience or voluntary work. It shows you are keen to learn and gives you some great skills, contacts and evidence of your employability to put on your CV. To find out more about work experience go to our work experience and internship pages.

It sometimes pays to have some help with your job search and recruitment agencies can be a big help in the early stages to help you find work. They have already done the networking for you and have a database of client contacts. Find out more about this on our recruitment agency pages.

It’s great to have that dream job in mind but in most cases it is probably unlikely that you will walk straight into this. If you look at our alumni case studies you will see that people often change roles in their career. Your career is likely to be made up of a number of jobs and you never know where things might take you. Of course you are in control and can steer its direction but don’t be afraid to keep an open mind and see the benefits in taking a job in something that isn’t exactly what you want; you never know where it might take you.

Made applications but not been successful?

It’s important to work out where you might be going wrong – Are you getting past the written application stage or could it be your interview technique? Have a look at our pages on CVs, application forms, assessment centres and interviews to get a better idea of what employers are looking for.

The most common factor in an unsuccessful application is that the information is too generic. There is one easy solution: Research!

Researching an organisation is essential in tailoring your applications and making a good impression at interview. Rather than just making vague but flattering statements it will highlight your interest in the organisations current work and allow you to match your skills and experiences with the organisations competency criteria, culture and values.

I’ve had a look on the organisations homepage, it that enough research?

You really need to dig a little deeper than the general information anyone can read on a homepage. You want an opportunity with this organisation, so show it! Remember to show why your awareness of the latest deal, client, innovation, activity or issue in the sector is important.

  • Read industry / sector related magazines to get the latest news and information. See our list of sector specific publications
  • Join sector associations as a student / graduate member
  • Use Google News to find out up to date news articles on companies and organisations
  • Get the inside track by following organisations using social media

Researching an organisation can be time consuming but the feedback we receive is that tailored applications are much more likely to get to the next stage of the application process.

If you want one-to-one support with your applications, please book an appointment to see an Application Adviser or use the e-guidance service.

Don’t panic

Taking action and making a plan about what you’ll do next will help you to feel you’re taking control of your future. Get in touch with us and we’ll be able to set you on the right track to creating an Action Plan towards your future. Read the transcript of the Careers Forum webchat for more ideas on staying positive and keeping motivated in your job search.