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    Graduate Advice: Finished University, what’s next?

    The exam results are now out, GCSE, BTEC or A Levels, this is all now done and over with. So what have you decided to do next? This can be a daunting question. What are your career options? Do you continue your education by entering into A levels (if you just finished your GCSEs)? Do you go to university, if that is the next academic step for you? Do you try and enter the world of work? Or you might want to combine the two and opt for an apprenticeship, or internship. Or you might want to start up your own business? All completely viable career options, but which one is right for you?

    There are so many choices and working in recruitment you see so many people from different backgrounds that choose different paths in their careers. Many people will have their say in what they think you should do, but ultimately the choice is yours. What is the best career option for you? What suits the best way for you?

    Research your industry

    Go online and do some research about your industry. Look at job profiles, who are the companies operating within your chosen industry? What are the sizes of these companies? Who are the major players? Are the companies all large-scale, or are there SMEs or even start-ups? Make a note of the skills they are requesting (you will need this later on when you start putting together your CV). Can you tick off most of the requirements? Are the requirements more than you have? All this information will determine your next step. Even if you want to start up your own business, it is important you do that research to understand what you can offer that other services/products in the market are not offering.

    What type of work do you want to start with?

    So, you’ve done your research and seen the requirements needed for the roles. It is now the time to choose the best way to get there. Remember you may have the education requirements, but you still might need to start at an entry-level to build up the experience in that area. What is the best way to build up your experience for your career options?

    • Volunteering – Always a good way to get in some experience. It is unpaid but sometimes that shows any recruiter that you are willing to work hard for no money to get the experience required within the industry.
    • Graduate Schemes – Graduate Schemes are a work-based training programme. These schemes enable you to gain hands-on training and experience in your chosen field. There are lots of organisations that offer a graduate training scheme. The demand for graduate schemes is extremely high. You normally need to apply at least a year in advance, but some companies do offer this all year round. Therefore, it is always best to check the process with each individual organisation.
    • Internships – An internship is starting off at an entry-level gaining hands-on training within your chosen field. Internships are normally unpaid and can run for a period of anything from 6-12 weeks where you have the chance to work within the company and gain vital experience as well as allowing you to see if you want to work within that role/industry.
    • Apprenticeships – If you want to get more hands-on, practical, on-the-job experience apprenticeships might be a good option for you. Apprenticeships are now available in the majority of industries. Gone are the days when it was focused on trade industries, apprenticeships cover every industry from law, accounting, right through to senior construction roles. There is such a wide variety of apprenticeships available, so if your chosen career has an apprenticeship option why not look at this avenue.
    • Contracting – look into short-term work, this can help you get experience in your chosen field as well as offer you a bit of diversity within the industry e.g. doing marketing at a marketing agency, can be very different from working in-house marketing at a publishing company.  All companies work differently, in different environments so gaining as much work experience as possible can prove beneficial
    • Permanent – looking for ongoing stable work. Allowing you to get fully involved in the daily working environment

    Where do you want to work?

    • Abroad – this could be the ideal time to investigate living and working abroad. There are countries that have a skills shortage so this could be a chance to get into your industry and experience another country.
    • Stay local – look at local businesses that may require your knowledge and skill set. And luckily you have local knowledge and don’t have to incur high travel expenses
    • City options – do you need to be in the heart of the city or travel further afield to be able to do what you want to do? Just bear in mind travel costs, would it be easier to move closer and possibly look at alternative accommodation options?

    Get your CV in shape

    Up to this point, you may only have your personal statement, so it can be difficult to create a page of text just about yourself. Again, if you take it in small chunks you will easily fill up the page, giving a hiring manager reasons why you should be employed.

    Your CV is the chance to put down all your experience and skills and highlight the great enthusiasm and knowledge you have for the industry.

    Then follow with a brief personal statement – Remember some of the notes you took earlier about what companies are looking for. Compare your strengths and highlight them with bullet points.

    Work Experience

    Everything you have done whether it be babysitting your neighbour’s child, having a Saturday job at your local shoe shop, everything counts. All work will highlight your skills and strengths. All jobs take some form of organising, managing time, and communication skills. Have a good think about what traits you were displaying whilst carrying out your Saturday job.
    Training courses – Highlight training courses you may have attended, whether it was an in-house, online, or official accredited course. The more knowledge you express the better.


    If you are wanting to start your own business or entering the world of work, you need to network. This is so important and sometimes underrated when looking at your career options.  The ability to just speak to people and understand what they are doing can be so beneficial. Or even telling people what you are doing, whether it be looking for that apprenticeship, or looking for a job, you never know who you are speaking to that can help you out as well. Word of mouth is a great tool.

    Once completed send your CV through to recruitment agencies, provide them with your requirements and the rest will be to sell yourself at the interview stage. Good Luck!

    Here are some further reading articles that might help you

    UCAS – They offer a good choice on what is available for your career options and not just university places.

    If construction is of interest to you, this article might be helpful – How to start a career in Construction

    Or you can contact us and the technology or construction team can have an informal chat about your options within these industries.