Finding vacancies

There are typically four ways to get a good graduate job:

  • Applying to vacancies, given that you are looking at the right vacancy sources for your preferred types of job
  • Sending speculative applications to organisations which interest you – especially small to medium sized companies
  • Networking 
  • Utilising recruitment agencies

We recommend a multi-channel approach when it comes to finding the right job. Try to do something proactive across all four strategies.

Applying to vacancies

This is often the only strategy a graduate job hunter is pursuing and it is a necessary strategy of course. But there are two main limitations:

  1. You are probably always competing against many other candidates
  2. Only some organisations advertise their vacancies anyway

If you are keen to work for specific organisations, look online at their own sites regularly to see if they are recruiting. Find out how they recruit. Is it only by a graduate programme and if so, what is the recruitment timeline? Often it is the same every year.

If it is a type of graduate job you want, look at the job profile on Prospects. This will link you to some of the specialist job vacancy sites which these vacancies appear in. It may also link to some specialist recruitment agencies for that job and for related roles (see below).

Sending speculative applications

Many organisations fill at least some of their available roles through speculative applications received from candidates.

These CVs and cover letters need to be personal and customised to different employers and their potential recruitment needs. If you show that you have done some good research on them and can explain why you are very motivated to work for them, you are potentially much less a risk to them as a hire than some of the candidates who will apply to them after they’ve posted a vacancy. Some of these may have no interest in the company but will claim they do have.

Responding to a speculative application costs the employer nothing at all. They also have control of the timing. They can respond at once or they can reserve a file of applications and interview when they need to.


There is an increasing trend in graduate jobs being filled by word of mouth. A recommendation, a personal connection. This can feel very uncertain for the jobseeker but is one of the safest ways of recruitment for employers. Ways you can network:

  • Reach out to friends and colleagues and seek their ideas as to ways forward
  • Using alumni networks, LinkedIn and professional associations, you can build quickly your own network so that it extends nationally and internationally
  • Attend a LinkedIn masterclass to learn more about how it can help you
  • Create and develop your online presence and use social media to manage your networking

Increasingly employers’ HR managers are reaching out to potential candidates on LinkedIn, seeking profiles which make sense to them and their recruitment needs.

Recruitment Agencies

A surprising number of companies operating as graduate recruiters only recruit indirectly. They have found that using one or more agencies works well for them. It is the agencies which handle the companies’ recruitment needs.

As a jobseeker, you would often need to be accessing these agencies to stand any chance of being hired by the companies they are contracted with.

The Recruitment and Employment Confederation has some great resources for jobseekers, especially its listing of agencies as well as guidance on how to select them.

You will also find that if you investigate graduate job profiles on Prospects, that the details will include a selection of agencies recruiting into these roles on behalf of their contracted companies.

Please make sure you tailor the CV you are sending to agencies so that it is customised to the relevant job roles which concern them.

A further helpful listing of agencies with a presence in the UK can be found on Agency Central. You will find that some of these are international as well.