Graduate employment and skills guide

Apply for jobs

There are lots of different places where you can go to search for jobs. We have listed some of them here. Choose the ones that suit you best and consider using a few different platforms so that you see a range of different opportunities.

Remember that you might need references from people who are willing to vouch for you and your skills. Graduates will often be asked for one work-related and one personal reference.

Searching for jobs

Many universities and colleges have job boards where they advertise graduate vacancies including local vacancies and opportunities with small and medium-sized local employers.

You may wish to check with your university or college careers service to see what support is still available. Your university or college career service will also be able to provide advice and support with applications.

The National Careers Service has lots of information about how to find job vacancies, including advice about networking sites, jobs fairs and making direct contact with employers.

Once you have found a job you want to apply for, the National Careers Service has advice and support about the next steps, including:

The National Careers Service also has specific advice on career and job support for people with a disability, including signposts to specialist advice and support.

This includes organisations that can help you find out about Access to Work, to find Disability Confident employers and support to ask for reasonable adjustments in the workplace.

You can search for information on graduate employers and vacancies on Prospects.

There is also advice on applying for jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, information on how to create a great video CV, and video interview tips.

Prospects also has a series of virtual events, webinars and podcasts to connect with employers and careers advisers.

Find a job is the government’s official job board with over 1 million people already registered on the site. It is one of the most consistently used online services at GOV.UK.

TARGETjobs provides tools and resources to help you wherever you are in your career journey. Search for graduate job and internship vacancies across 25 career sectors and get advice on applications, interviews, making career decisions and more. Join webinars and attend events for access to employers and skills workshops.

The MyPlus Students’ Club offers free expert careers advice for students and graduates with a disability, health condition or mental ill health. It offers access to everything you need to confidently manage your disability during the recruitment process enabling you to land your dream job, including access to disability confident employers, free webinars and employability events and practical careers guidance.

Other online platforms such as Target ConnectCareer HubJob Teaser, Gradcracker and Handshake are also helpful, with hundreds of listings across the country for graduates to apply for.

The JobHelp website and the Plan for Jobs offer advice and guidance on your job search, signposting to job opportunities and local recruitment events and providing information about training schemes and companies you might be able to contact.

The UK Government is doubling the number of work coaches available to help people get back into to work.

Work coaches use their experience of the jobs market to help you find opportunities that match your skills, which could include types of work you’ve never considered before.

Get support from your work coach.


FutureLearn offers a range of free and paid online courses to help UK and international graduates improve their job applications. See, for example, How to get a graduate job or search for ‘graduate jobs’ on the website.

Your local council often has information about companies that are hiring in the area.

You can use this information to approach employers or apply for vacancies online.

Many libraries offer support for people searching for a job, for example through job clubs, CV writing assistance and help with interview skills.

Explore what employment support might be offered by your local library by visiting the local branch or library website to find out more.

Travelling to interviews can be expensive. Check whether the employer covers the cost of travel, or can conduct the interview remotely.

If you receive Universal Credit you may be able to get some extra support. Understanding Universal Credit - Extra support you may be entitled to includes some examples of extra support that may be available to UC claimants, including support with travel costs to attend job interviews or start work and support with provision of clothing to start work.

Specialist job support

Last year, the government launched the Green Jobs Taskforce, which forms part of the Ten Point Plan and its ambition to build back greener and achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

The plan includes helping to retain and create jobs in key sectors such as nature conservation and automotive.

 Green job opportunities in sectors such as nature conservation and automotive are usually advertised through EnvironmentJob, Green Jobs Online, Countryside Jobs Service, Roots to Work, Guardian Jobs and CharityJob.

Create Britain is an independent platform bringing together everyone and everything creative.

Anyone can create a profile, expressing their unique talent on their own terms, which can be used to showcase your creative disciplines, and embed audio, visual, and interactive content.

You can use your profile to connect your online media, grow your audience and engage with employers. Find out more by viewing the introductory video, Let's Create Britain.

If you are interested in a career in rail, Routes into Rail provides careers advice and signposts to relevant opportunities. It has specific information on graduate opportunities, which is updated regularly.

If you are interested in aerospace and aviation, the Careers in Aerospace offers lots of online resources to help you as well as a one-to-one appointment service, dedicated careers events and the latest news and insights from the industry.

If you are interested in a maritime career, Maritime UK has resources to help you explore the sector as well as a series of maritime careers events nationwide.

Public sector jobs

Public sector jobs involve a huge range of careers, for example local and national councils, NHS hospitals and clinics, emergency services, schools and much more.

Working in the public sector can be extremely rewarding, and gives the opportunity to make a real difference to improving people’s lives.

Working in the public sector offers stability, flexibility and a range of benefits such as pension schemes, generous annual leave and plenty of opportunities to develop further.

Do you want a career where you can make a difference and leave a lasting impact on someone’s life? With starting salaries from £25,000 (depending on location) and great opportunities for career progression, there is more to teaching than you might think.

Sign up to get personalised information and advice on how to get into teaching. Take the next step. Shaping lives has never been so rewarding.

There has never been a more vital time to join the NHS, where there are hundreds of fulfilling and challenging opportunities to support the UK’s response to COVID-19 and to facilitate good health and wellbeing in our everyday lives.

  • Graduate Training Opportunities in the NHS: There are several exciting graduate training schemes in the NHS that allow you to develop both specialist and transferable skills while supporting the delivery of public health services. There are opportunities within the NHS for graduates from both biomedical and non-medical backgrounds, with graduate training programmes ranging from health service management to health informatics and technology.
  • Healthcare Support Worker: You don’t need to come from a medical background to have a rewarding role in healthcare. You could apply to be a Healthcare Support Worker, where you would have the opportunity to be part of the multi-disciplinary care team and to specialise in a particular area, e.g. mental health or emergency care. This role can also be a stepping-stone to becoming a healthcare professional, e.g. a nurse or a midwife.
  • NHS Test and Trace has a diverse range of opportunities for graduates with or without backgrounds in biomedical sciences who want to help support the return to normal life and break chains of transmission of COVID-19, with a number of roles currently available in the national laboratory network. These nationwide opportunities allow you to help support public health whilst developing first-rate technical and non-technical skills in diagnostic laboratory environments.

Find out more about working in health 

See a video guide to the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme

Local councils are some of the largest and most diverse employers in the UK. They have a range of opportunities including social care, teaching, engineering, horticulture, leisure, waste and recycling, regulation, housing and transport, the things councils do impact everyone’s life, every day.

If you are interested in a career in making a difference to your local community visit your local council website or download our useful guide: Careers in Local Government.

  • Local Government National Graduate Development Programme. This is a fast-track graduate programme for passionate individuals who are interested in working in local government. The programme offers the chance to work directly with communities, but also to influence policies and plans at a senior level. Find out more and to apply for a place on the 2022 programme. Applications open in September 2021.
  • Public sector jobs in the West Midlands. If you are interested in working in local government or the wider public sector in the West Midlands, please check out WMJobs, one of the largest public sector jobs boards in the country. 
  • East Sussex opportunities. The East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service exists to help make communities safer. There are a range of roles within the service –  from firefighters, crew and watch managers to finance, human resources and procurement experts, as well as community volunteer roles. For graduates interested in working in adult social care in East Sussex, please check the website to find out more and view vacancies.

The civil service delivers public services and supports the government of the day to develop and implement its policies. There are many routes into the civil service.

  • The Civil Service Fast Stream is the civil service’s flagship leadership development programme, developing people from a wide range of backgrounds who have the potential to become our future senior leaders.
  • The Summer Diversity Internship Programme provides students and recent graduates with a disability and those from Black, Asian and minority ethnic and lower socioeconomic backgrounds with the opportunity to gain experience of working for the civil service and life on the fast stream.
  • The Government Communication Service delivers world-class public service communications which support minsters' priorities and improves people's lives. If you are interested in working for the service, you can find out more by visiting the website. Graduates who do not have a degree in a communications-related topic can apply for a Level 4 PR and Communications Assistant Apprenticeship, an 18-month programme to help individuals to begin their careers in communications.

Find out more about civil service careers

A career in policing can be rewarding, both for you as an individual and also for the communities you’ll serve.

Police Now is looking for a diverse range of graduates committed to societal change and using their skills to make communities thrive. The two-year programme is designed to support graduates through both their professional and personal journeys.

You can also volunteer to support the police and gain valuable skills, including volunteering as a Special Constable or a Police Support Volunteer.

Graduates with an interest in rehabilitation and leading change in the prison system can apply for the two-year leadership development programme from Unlocked Graduates.

With support from mentors, you will work in a prison while completing a masters’ qualification, with opportunities to contribute to wider policy and research on prison reform.

Following the two years you can progress within the service or take your skills elsewhere to work towards reducing the reoffending rate in wider society.

There are hundreds of rewarding and challenging career opportunities in the British armed forces that help ensure the safety and security of the UK.

In the armed forces you can gain transferable professional skills like nursing and engineering, or train in a specialist field such as tanks or military intelligence.

You will have to commit a minimum length of service from three and a half to six years, dependent on role. Explore all the opportunities available in each of the armed forces at:


Entering the job market during this time may require flexibility, so if you are considering an occupation that falls outside your course’s typical career paths, then you might want to consider an apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships are jobs with a sustained element of off-the-job training that enables an individual to become fully competent in a distinct occupation.

The Commonwealth Games 2022 are being hosted in Birmingham, and there are lots of opportunities to get involved.

In the lead-up to the games, over 1,000 people will be recruited to the Birmingham 2022 Organising Committee to deliver the Games, with many more jobs to follow.

View all live jobs in a range of different areas.

Birmingham 2022 will also require over 12,500 volunteers. More details will be announced soon when the volunteer application opens on 1 June.

International students

If you are eligible for the Graduate route, a new route being launched on 1 July 2021, then once you have successfully been granted permission on the route you can work for any employer in any role (apart from work as a professional sportsperson) or undertake self-employment, and do not require sponsorship.

You may also wish to consider the Skilled Worker route. On this route, you will be sponsored by the employer to perform a specific role. After five years on this route, you may be eligible for settlement.

If you wish to work on the Skilled Worker route, then you will need to check that the employer is listed on the sponsor register, and also make it clear to your potential employer that you will require sponsorship. Not all roles are able to be sponsored and not all employers are sponsors.

If a role you are interested in is not open for applications from those requiring sponsorship, you usually would still be able to be considered if you are on the Graduate route.

Support for entrepreneurs

The UK is one of the best places in Europe to start a business. There are about 450,000 16-24 year olds running smaller businesses in the UK, and if you are interested in being an entrepreneur and starting your own business, then there is lots of support out there for you.

The Government’s Business Support Helpline provides free advice to pre-start and start-ups. You can also find free support, advice and sources of finance through your local ‘growth hub’.

Startup Loans provides start up finance and up to 12 months of mentoring support, as well as an essential guide to starting a business and a range of free courses ideal if you’re thinking about going into business for the first time.

The Skills Toolkit has a course on entrepreneurship, and Prospects have a page on self-employment with information about how to start a business, and is self-employment right for you

International students on the Graduate route are able to undertake self-employment; you may also be eligible for a Start-up or Innovator visa if you meet the relevant route requirements.

The British Library Business and IP Centre (BIPCs) National Network helps entrepreneurs start and grow their business.

The regional and local BIPCs based in public libraries across England provide a programme of free and low-cost events and workshops on a range of topics including business planning, marketing and intellectual property, as well as free access to resources.

If you’re interested in finding out what it takes to be your own boss, go to the Business and Intellectual Property Centres website to learn more and see what is available in your area. 

The Prince’s Trust runs an Enterprise programme for 18- to 30-year-olds, to teach you everything you need to know about how to make your business a success.

The programme takes place in a centre near you, and there is a series of online enterprise resources as well.

Published 10 May 2021

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