10 Tips To Help Land That Graduate Job

Matt Stevens offers ten tips to help candidates stand out from the crowd.

Applying for a graduate recruitment programme places you against potentially thousands of other people, each with a good academic record and series of extra curricular achievements.

High Fliers Research

This January 2019, High Fliers Research published their Annual review of graduate vacancies & starting salaries at the UK’s leading employers, in which they found that ‘the UK’s top employers are increasing their graduate vacancies by 9.1% in 2019, the highest annual rise in graduate recruitment since 2010.’

Needless to say, there is a lot of competition out there – almost one in three students graduated with top marks, last year. Indeed, TalentLens UK frequently says to clients that due to the sheer volume of well qualified candidates, recruiting a good graduate is relatively easy – we can help them to recruit the best.

Stand out and get ahead

Your challenge as a candidate is how to make yourself stand out from the crowd and to make sure that employers view you as a future representative of their company. In order to secure that dream position, you will probably need to sit psychometric tests (75 per cent of The Times Best Companies to Work For and 80 per cent of Fortune 500 firms use them – source People Management).

Below are ten job search tips:

  1. Talk to family and friends – Your parents and their friends are likely to have a wealth of experience and advice. The same applies to your friends’ parents – it’s like fishing, if you don’t cast in, you won’t catch a thing.
  2. Connect – Use social media to create a positive voice for yourself – comment on and share articles that may be pertinent to your chosen area. Don’t be afraid to ask people to connect. Prior to this, commenting positively on something they have posted often breaks the ice.
  3. Speak to recruitment consultants – Make contact as early as possible and sell yourself. This doesn’t mean banging on about how amazing you are. Let the consultants work that out. It means asking what they are looking for and listening to what they say. Once armed with the basic requirements, you can match yourself with the job.
  4. Consult job boards and print ads – Don’t be put off by the lack of replies. However, make sure that you consider the advice in no. 5 below. To use the fishing analogy again – you may have all the gear but if there’s no hook on the line, there’s no point in casting in.
  5. Tailor your CV and covering letter for each application – This may seem an arduous task but it is better than blindly sending out the same CV or each job and getting nowhere. Employers want to know that you’ve taken the time to research their organisation and have matched yourself to the job specs (see no 7).
  6. Approach your ideal company directly – An ideal (if time heavy) way to get noticed. Even if they do not have anything suitable, a recruiter will keep impressive CVs and covering letters should other opportunities arise. Do not be afraid to follow up. It gives you a chance to demonstrate your passion for what the company does.
  7. Read the job specification – This follows on from no 5. If you haven’t made the effort to find out exactly what the job is, how can you expect to impress the people who will be reviewing hundreds or even thousands of applications?
  8. Be open to suggestions – A career is an ever evolving entity, do not worry too much about securing the dream position straight away. You may well have to consider other roles to build up experience. A key question to ask yourself is ‘What can I learn and contribute here?’
  9. Practice and learn about psychometric tests – As mentioned above, 80 per cent of Fortune 500 firms use ability and personality tests during the recruitment process. Whilst your ability to tackle a numerical reasoning or critical thinking assessment is not likely to significantly fluctuate, it is better to be informed about what you may encounter.
  10. Appearance – If you reach the interview stage, people make a judgement about someone almost immediately after meeting them. Whilst it is good to stand out, make sure that it is for your achievements, rather than those scuffed shoes.

Best of luck!


The above list is not exhaustive – it is intended as a basic guide and is in no way representative of Pearson’s policy on staff recruitment. It has been put together by the author to provide tips for job candidates.