CAREERS BLOG: Postgraduates applying for jobs

Contrary to popular opinion, employers welcome applications from postgraduates to their graduate recruitment programmes, it’s just that a postgraduate qualification isn’t often a specific entry requirement. Don’t let this put you off though – you will gain many additional transferable skills through your time at university but you need to be able to promote these in your application. The fact that you have a Masters qualification for example doesn’t necessarily make you a better manager – you still need to be able to demonstrate all the transferable skills, personal qualities and experience that are sought from undergraduate applicants. 

There are two very practical points to consider for applications:

Applications for graduate schemes open in the late Summer/early Autumn prior to the start date and often have deadlines as early as November, though some are later. If you are a Masters student you will only just have started your degree but you will already have to think about job applications.

Many graduate schemes expect successful candidates to be able to start work in late Summer/early Autumn, but most Masters courses finish in late September. There are exceptions – some may start later or be flexible, some may have a range of different start dates. You will need to research individual companies to find out the situation. Many employers expect their new graduates to start work at the same time so that they can go through induction together and develop a strong network for the future, or start their professional qualification training.

If you are unable to start work on the allotted date you will need to check with the employer about whether there is any flexibility, or consider applying for the following year. Alternatively, you might be able to negotiate an extension to your course deadline to allow you to start work whilst continuing to work on your dissertation. This may not be possible and even if it is, graduate training schemes can be very intensive, leaving you limited spare time for academic work.

However, graduate schemes are not your only option, and may not be available in the sector that you’re considering. Small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) still account for the majority of graduate employment and recruit all year round as and when they have vacancies. If you already have relevant work experience you could also look for ‘experienced hire’ jobs with organisations.

Look out for the ‘Professional Connect’ networking events coming up in the Spring and Summer terms – they’re a great way to find out more about opportunities and network with employers and alumni working in specific sectors, including education, public sector, life sciences, technology, media, arts and heritage, third sector.

Other resources

Information sheets on Finding job vacancies and Applying for jobs outside the UK and more at (in the Job hunting tab)

Janice Simpson, Senior Careers Adviser