After your degree: jobs, further study and self-employment
You can continue to use the services offered by the Careers and Employability team for up to three years following graduation including having access to 1-1 support for your job search or applications for postgraduate study for example. You will be contacted approximately 6 months after you graduate and will be invited to take part in the “Destinations of Leavers of Higher Education” survey, which aims to collect information on what Londonmet graduates have gone on to do having completed their studies.
This section provides information and resources which will help you to plan for life after university whether you are considering work, further study or self-employment.
Graduate Job Search
When looking for work, the strategies you use will depend to an extent on the type of work you are looking for, and the sector which interests you. Some large graduate employers offer graduate training programmes which vary in length but are essentially aimed at those who are both ambitious and able. These schemes are offered by some of the large financial institutions, manufacturers and retailers for example, as well as in the public sector, eg the NHS and the Civil Service. A small number of organisations in the not-for-profit sector also offer a graduate programme, eg Cancer Research UK and Charityworks. Competition for such opportunities is intense and in many cases employers will expect candidates to offer a 2:1 or above. In addition, the selection process can be lengthy, consisting typically of online tests, interviews and perhaps an assessment centre and for this reason closing dates can be early in the autumn term for vacancies which are available the following summer. It is therefore essential to start planning well in advance if you are interested in making applications to these programmes.
Not all graduates see themselves aiming for schemes of this type, and prefer to apply for jobs which may or may not require a degree, but which nonetheless offer valuable experience on which to build a career. The other point to bear in mind is that in some job areas where there are relatively few large graduate recruiters, such schemes are not commonly offered. This is true in areas such as art & design and media for example. In these sectors, jobs are often secured through personal networks and so establishing and building these networks would form an important element of your job search strategy.
A variety of resources are outlined below to help you find advertised vacancies as well as advice on how to tap into the “hidden” job market.
The university Job Shop advertises many types of vacancies including full time roles for graduates.
Use the Job Search Engine on the Careers Portal to create customised searches.
Recruitment Agencies and Job Boards offer a wide range of vacancies and although both are sales driven organisations charging employers (not candidates!) to fill vacancies, they operate in a slightly different way. A recruitment agency will canvass employers for vacancies, and then seek to match the employer’s requirements either from candidates held on their database, or through advertising to attract additional interest. It will be involved in the initial stages of selection, and only forward details of candidates thought to be suitable. Bear in mind that whilst some will give helpful advice, this is not their main role and if you approach an agency with a poor CV, you may not hear further from them. It is usual to contact agencies by email, but for those with a high street presence, another option would be to call in person. For some valuable tips on using jobs boards and agencies, download the article on How to get the best from job boards by Corinne Hutchinson of TipTopJob.com.
The Recruitment and Employment Confederation is a body representing the recruitment industry and has produced a Code of Professional Practice which its members must adhere to. Via its website there is the option to search the member database to identify agencies in specific geographical areas, or operating within specific sectors.
On a jobs board, you can browse the opportunities on offer, apply directly via the website for vacancies that appeal to you, and opt to upload your CV. In this case, consider what personal information to include and check who might be able to access it.
See our "Recruitment Sites” page for information on online agencies and jobs boards which you could try. The lists are not exhaustive but do include some of the largest graduate sites offering permanent and internship roles. In addition, there are examples of sites which specialise in particular areas of work and which may post graduate vacancies from time to time.
Local newspapers may be worth a try, but are generally more helpful for part-time, temporary and non- graduate positions.
Larger companies may have a specific section listing career options and/or job opportunities on their websites. Similarly, they may advertise opportunities on their social media pages.
Professional Journals and Professional Bodies
Although many of the vacancies advertised will be for experienced staff, these sources can nonetheless be useful as a means of building up your sector knowledge, finding out about the types of opportunities on offer, identifying potential employers or finding out about networking events. To find out which professional bodies might cover your area of interest you can use the “profession finder” tool on the Total Professions website.
Employers wishing to recruit may make direct contact with academic staff. In this case, information may be posted on weblearn, on social media or on department notice boards.
A Creative Approach – the Hidden Job Market
Networking and using Social Media
This can be a means of finding out more about your chosen sector and identifying potential vacancies. Networking may involve face to face contact at careers event or conferences for example, but increasingly social media platforms are important tools in the development of networks. Download the information sheets on Developing Your Network and Using Social Media to Develop your Career. In addition, you can find useful tips on using social media generally in the "E-Hireability" section of the Careers Portal.
This involves approaching organisations with a view to enquiring about the possibility of current or future vacancies. This approach is especially worthwhile when applying within industries which are very competitive or which are dominated by smaller organisations which may not want to advertise.
If you wish to apply speculatively, make sure you research the company carefully so that in your CV and cover letter you can illustrate clearly what you can offer them as well as why you would like to work for them. To find out about companies which operate in a particular sector/area, the resources below are helpful:
Resources for international students
The Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services has produced useful information for international students including an insight into the UK jobs market, employer expectations and advice on seeking work in the UK and overseas. This can be accessed via the Target Jobs website.
An additional resource, Gradlink is supported by the University of the West of England, and is designed to help international students research and access work opportunities whilst they are studying here in the UK.
For advice on all matters related to visa applications, or about your right to work whilst studying in the UK, students should access the services of the university's International Office.
Careers run joint workshops with the International Office aimed at current students and recent graduates. These provide an opportunity to explore options for working in the UK both during and after study, contact the International Office for details.
Students choose postgraduate study for a variety of reasons, so if this is an option you are considering it can be helpful to reflect on your motivation. Are you driven mainly by the desire to study your subject in more depth, or to develop specialist knowledge? Are you aiming to gain a professional qualification, eg in teaching, law or social work? or are you hoping to use postgraduate study to change direction?
One of the reasons many consider continuing in study is to gain a competitive edge in the job market. Research suggests that in general a postgraduate qualification may increase your employability and long term earnings potential, but this cannot be assumed, so if this is your key motivator you need to be clear on which additional skills and knowledge you will gain, and what “added value” you can expect.
For some courses (although not all) a 2:1 or above will be required and for vocational courses, eg social work, you will also be expected to offer relevant work experience. It is therefore always important to check entry requirements.
There are different types of postgraduate courses, and you will see a variety of titles used eg postgraduate certificates/diplomas, masters (MSc, MA, MRes, MPhil) and PhDs. Usually a full time postgraduate diploma is a taught course lasting one academic year - many Masters courses also last for one academic year but in addition students complete a dissertation over the summer months. Some Masters are taught courses, whilst others are research based and these are particularly relevant for those who wish to either progress into research based employment, or perhaps to use this as a stepping stone to a higher research degree such as a PhD. A PhD involves at least 3 years of original supervised research activity leading to a thesis which adds to the body of knowledge in your subject area and so requires considerable commitment and self-motivation. When considering your choices, you are therefore thinking not just about the subject area, but also about the length of time involved, the type of study that suits your learning style, and its relevance to your career goals.
In the main applications are made direct to your chosen institutions. The majority of courses begin in September and many do not specify a definite closing date, but obviously popular courses will fill up as the year progresses, so it is advisable to start your applications either towards the end of the autumn term or early in the spring term. There are a few exceptions to this and for some vocational courses for example accelerated nursing or medicine, teacher training and social work, applications are made via UCAS. For some of these courses closing dates apply, for example the closing date for accelerated medicine is usually mid-October. Applications for the Legal Practice course and the Graduate Diploma in Law are also made through a clearing house, the Central Applications Board. A very small number of universities use an applications system called UKPASS for postgraduate courses. It is therefore important to check what the procedure is for each of the courses of interest.
The University’s Student Money and Accommodation Advice Service provides information sheets on possible funding sources for postgraduate study in general, as well as specific information on funding for teacher training and social work courses. A major change to note is that in 2016/17 for the first time English-domiciled students and EU students studying in English institutions will be able to apply for funding for a masters course from Student Finance England. Full time, part-time and distance learning courses will all be covered by this scheme and the loan can be for a maximum of £10,000.
In addition, many institutions will offer their own bursaries or scholarships, so it is always worthwhile to check and to do so well in advance as closing dates may well apply.
The Prospects website provides extensive information on the range of postgraduate options available, including a searchable database of both taught courses and research opportunities. It also discusses in more detail the main issues to consider, as well as sources of potential funding. Similar information can be found on the "find a masters" site, or alternatively "target postgrad".
For those considering the option of self-employment LondonMet Student Entreprise offers a range of support and advice including workshops, events and business competitions. There are opportunities to discuss your ideas with an experienced business adviser and access funding advice as well as office space (through the Launchpad programme).
Additional resources include:
The Prospects website provides practical information on the steps required to set up a business including creating a business and marketing plan. It also reflects on the advantages and disadvantages of self-employment and suggests additional resources.
The “Business and Self-employed” pages of the Gov.uk site providing a wide variety of information resources
The Business Support Helpline – a government sponsored service providing telephone and online advice
City Business Library runs a series of events and seminars for entrepreneurs for which there is a small charge. Regular topics include marketing, networking and use of social media
Resources for PhD students
Download Careers information resources for PhD and research students for links to a variety of relevant resources . These include job search links, case studies and information for those seeking a research career outside of academia.