Life and work after graduation

Once you’ve got it, your higher education qualification could open up plenty of career options - or pave the way for postgraduate study.

Options available to graduates

Your university or college will be able to help you weigh up your options after graduation. They will be able to advise on options for further study, or give you some tips on the best places to look for careers leads.

While in higher education you might want to think about enhancing your chances of getting a job through voluntary work or other work experience opportunities. Getting involved with student newspapers, radio stations, sports classes or taster courses might also help provide the kind of experience employers are looking for.

Planning a career

If you’re planning to get a job after you graduate, it’s best to register early with your university or college’s career service. They will be able to provide advice and resources to help you research careers and job opportunities. If you’re still undecided about what you want to do, you can try using the Prospects  Career Planner - a tool which can help you identify your skills, interests and motivations, then match them to job types.

The Careers Service can also help.

Making the best use of your higher education qualification

If you’re interested in exploring the types of career your course might pave the way for, the careers service and academic staff at your university or college will be able to advise you.

Before you start looking for a job, it's worth checking that you've considered all your options. If you've focused on a particular area of work up to now, are there any related careers that could increase your options - and improve your chances?

Many graduate vacancies are open to graduates with degrees in any subject. However, finding out what other graduates in your subject are doing can be a good way of getting ideas. Prospects compiles an annual graduate destination survey, with useful information what graduates in each subject are doing six months after graduation.

Finding a job

When looking for work, your university or college careers service is a good place to start, especially if you’re looking for a graduate training scheme.  It’s also worth checking newspapers. There’s a huge range of websites with information on job vacancies, along with advice on how to handle CVs, applications and interviews.

Career development and updating your skills

Keeping your skills and knowledge up-to-date is as important for graduates as for everyone else.  This might be as simple as keeping a keen interest in what's happening in your field, such as a teacher reading the educational press, or it might involve some further training or study. This could be arranged by your employer, or you might choose to arrange a course for yourself to improve your career prospects or achieve your wider ambitions.

How to update your skills

Keep an eye on how your industry is changing: this is key to knowing which skills are in demand. For example, check job advertisements for a sense of what employers want.

It's also worth contacting your trade or professional association. An increasing number stress the importance of 'Continuing Professional Development' (CPD), and some have programmes to help members develop their skills.

Training and further study

Your employer may offer opportunities to develop your skills - or you may want to improve your career prospects by arranging training for yourself.

If you're going to do some further training, it's worth considering courses that lead to a postgraduate or other formal qualification. This will improve the chances of your new knowledge and skills getting full recognition from a new employer.

Taking a gap year

A gap year can be a good opportunity to broaden your horizons, or simply earn some money. If you’re going to take any job or placement that comes your way, you can probably get away with applying around two months before you plan to start.

If, however, you want a specific placement it’s worth making enquiries well ahead of your planned start date. If you’re planning on taking part in a particular gap year scheme, check their deadlines.

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