The graduate guide to getting a job

The fun days of university come to an end for many this month as the world of work beckons, albeit unwelcomingly with over 50 applicants for every graduate post.

So how should you proceed as you pack up your student digs and head for home? Follow our graduate plan of action for some essential tips.

Understand the market
The UK's leading employers recruited 1,200 fewer graduates than expected in 2012, according to the High Fliers survey of the 2012 graduate market, with accounting and professional service companies and investment banks taking the biggest hits.

Fortunately the outlook is set to improve this season with employers expecting to increase graduate recruitment by 2.7% in 2013. The biggest growth in vacancies is expected at public sector employers, retailers and engineering and industrial companies, which together intend to recruit almost 400 extra graduates this year.

Manage your expectations
Competition is undeniably tough so it is crucial to be realistic about your chances of securing a role and as well as the level of salary you can expect, explains Mike Fetters, graduate director at "Try our salary checker which helps you find average UK salary in line with skills, industry, job title and location."

Consider any changes you might need to make to improve your employability, such as vocational training courses and widening your job criteria or company choice. Where you live is a sticking point for many graduates, so consider if you need to relocate to a city and if so, how you will afford it. A stint working locally and living at home with mum and dad in order to save up may be the only option.

Update your professional profile
That simple CV that secured your first Saturday job isn't going to cut it at professional level, so take time to review and update it with your qualifications, skills and work experience. There are some basic rules to follow to ensure it appeals to a variety of different recruiters.

In addition to the persona you actively present to potential employers, think about the one that they can discover themselves – your online profile. Social media has revolutionized the job market but it is full of pitfalls that could actually damage your reputation. Read our guide on how to utilise the likes of LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to boost your chances at winning your dream job.

Gain relevant work experience
There is no substitute for practical work experience within an organisation. "It shows potential employers that you were thinking ahead and had motivation that extended beyond your academic achievement," explains Fetters.

Recruiters expect that over a third of this year's entry-level positions to be filled by graduates who have already worked for their organisations, according to the High Fliers report – either through internships, industrial placements or vacation work – and therefore are not open to other students from the Class of 2013.

Put yourself in the selection box by securing the best internship you can. Research the companies that you would like to work for and follow our guide to turn your work experience into a job.

Stand out from competition
So you've got a great degree, impressive CV and fantastic internship under your belt – how do you stand apart from the thousands of other graduates with exactly the same credentials? Now it's time to think outside the box and demonstrate to employers why they should hire you over your peers. For example, Blogging is great to showcase your work and skills, and video is another increasingly popular way to get noticed, explains Tony Wilmot, founder of

"At we have seen a wholesale change in the way the candidates promote themselves, from conducting Skype interviews to presentations. The use of video has become more and more popular and many use it as a way of breaking down barriers between themselves and any prospective employer even before they've applied for a job."

The UK's top ten dream jobs
See Gallery
The graduate guide to getting a job
Read Full Story