Graduate employment and skills guide

Identify your skills

There are lots of options to choose from when you graduate and it’s normal to feel uncertain about your next steps. You might want to spend time reflecting on what skills and experience you already have, what you enjoy doing and the type of careers you might be interested in.

Don’t forget to think about skills you’ve developed during the pandemic, including resilience, adaptability, digital skills and remote working.

Careers advice

There are many services and resources that you can use to get support identifying your skills and interests and to get help exploring careers.

If you’ve recently graduated, it’s a good idea to check with your university or college to see what support is still available to you.

Most have careers services with information, advice and guidance on the sorts of things you’ll need to know:

  • jobs in particular sectors
  • preparing for recruitment processes
  • support to develop your skills and career management
  • opportunities to connect with alumni
  • access to graduate employers
  • the graduate labour market.

Most universities and colleges will continue to provide advice and support even after you have graduated, so make sure you get in touch to see what is available.

You may also be able to access your university or college facilities and services over the summer – speak to them to see if this is an option for you.

Many universities and colleges have found new and innovative ways to adapt their services and provide additional support during the pandemic, including virtual and online support.

The National Careers Service is an impartial, government-funded service offering information, advice and guidance at different career stages, helping you to plan your next steps and progress to achieve your goals.

You might want to use the National Careers Service skills assessment, which can help you: 

  • find out what interests and motivates you
  • identify your skills
  • find out what you can do with the skills you have

You can then explore over 800 career profiles to think about which roles appeal to you. You can get help to prepare for job applications or advice on further study.

Prospects is a national careers website for students and graduates.

It has a Career Planner to help you identify your skills and find out more about what motivates you. It also helps you to explore careers, including  a job match Tool with over 500 graduate job profiles to help you discover what jobs you might find rewarding., and information on what careers you can do with your degree.

You can also visit the Prospects YouTube channel.

Youth Employment UK’s Skills and Careers Hub has practical advice for graduates, including guidance on career options and tips for application and interviews.

Journey to Work is a free online learning programme that can help you boost your skills and career confidence. There are also opportunities to develop your skills through virtual work experience.

Careermap for Graduates is a short free guide for graduates providing the latest career advice. 

Explore articles from experts sharing insights into the graduate labour market, and access support for application success.

Learn how to identify your employability and transferrable skills, and hear from industry leaders about the diversity of graduate career opportunities and available pathways.

Discover! Creative Careers can help you understand the broad range of creative roles and the qualifications they require, from weaving to network programming.

The website guides you through creative career journeys and signposts to relevant opportunities nationwide including courses, workshops, and paid internships.

Don’t forget to talk to people who know you well – academic tutors and mentors, people you’ve worked for, colleagues, close friends and family members. They might be able to help you identify your existing skills and strengths.

Postgraduate courses

While many of you will be keen to get on the career ladder, some of you will be considering postgraduate study. The National Careers Service also has advice on further study options.

To find a further study course, you can use sites like:

Entry requirements will vary at each institution. Use UCAS or individual university websites to check them.

Studying at postgraduate level is a big investment. You may be eligible to apply for a government loan to help with course fees and living costs. Application deadline dates vary, so make sure to check your eligibility soon.

Many universities and colleges offer bursaries, studentships and grants. You should talk to your university or college about what support is available.

International students

If you have studied in the UK as an international student, you may want to consider staying and working here.

There are a number of immigration routes which could offer you the opportunity to gain valuable work experience, skills and to stay and work in the UK:

From 1 July 2021, the Graduate route will be open to international students who have completed a course of study at degree level or higher on a student visa (or Tier 4) at an eligible university or college.

For more information about the Graduate route, including concessions for students unable to travel to the UK due to the pandemic, see the Graduate route fact sheet. Your university or college will be able to advise if you are eligible.

For those who are eligible, the Graduate route will allow you to stay, live, look for work, and work without restriction for two years (three years for PhD graduates) within the UK.

While on the route, work is permitted at any skill level and you do not need to be sponsored. At the end of this period, you will be able to switch into a different route if you are eligible.

You may also be eligible for the Skilled Worker, Global Talent, Start-up or Innovator visas.

As you start to consider your next steps, you should consider which of the immigration routes that you are eligible for would be most appropriate, as you will need permission to remain in the UK.

Published 10 May 2021

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