Graduate Support & Advice - Make yourself a competitive candidate during the pandemic; placements, work & volunteering

Students graduating in 2020 have had a difficult end to university with normal campus life coming to an abrupt end in March, lectures and final exams moved online, students had to adapt quickly to the changes. Now graduates are facing challenges in the search for their new career opportunities as the UK economy falters amidst the fallout from the Coronavirus.

Graduate job searches are going to be tougher with companies cutting recruitment levels, as well as an increase in the available talent pool due to redundancies, putting graduates in a position where they are competing for jobs against qualified and experienced candidates.


Employers are still wanting to hire though and it’s really important that you are doing all the right things to ensure you are top of their list. Over the course of the next month we’ll publish a weekly guide with some top tips on areas to consider to support with your job searching and applications.


Get some experience!

To get into your desired field or dream job, you’ll probably need to gain some experience. This could be entry level or even unpaid: many companies provide internships or graduate work experience opportunities.


  • Placements/Internships

A placement enables you to gain first-hand exposure of working in the real world. It also allows you to harness the skill, knowledge, and theoretical practice you have learnt in university. You’re also able to network and establish relationships with working professionals in your field. You may have already done one as part of your course or in a summer break either way this looks great to a potential employer so make sure you shout about it on your CV.  If you haven’t already done a placement write a CV and a cover letter template and set up some online alerts so that if any become available you are ready to apply.


  • Part-time work

If you’re not able to get a placement paid work is a great alternative.  Ideally you’d want to get some work in your industry, even if it’s not necessarily in your chosen career path, but any job is a great demonstration of your ability to work in a professional environment and demonstrate key skills such as organisation, time management, communication etc.  Whether you’ve worked in a bar or café, you and your CV will only look stronger for it. This also gives you more experience for interview questions where you are asked to demonstrate skills.


  • Volunteering

Volunteering is another excellent addition to a CV and a good way of demonstrating the key skills employers are on the lookout for.  Many managers say they’d like to see volunteering on a CV, it shows a level of commitment particularly if it’s something you have done frequently or for a long period of time.  Placements, paid work and volunteering are not mutually exclusive and if you have more than one of these with a well-articulated explanation of how these activities have given you some great skills then it will give you a competitive edge in the job market.

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