This article was written by freelancer Natasha Moore

Getting a job in general can sometimes seem akin to swimming in treacle; it’s a sticky process that can feel totally overwhelming if you’re not prepared. And if you’re fresh out of Uni, applying for jobs is unfamiliar territory too, hence why stream-lined graduate jobs and schemes can make the process feel a little smoother.

With these roles, you get the support and guidance from a big company and quite often a hefty pay check to go alongside your commitment. But graduate schemes are highly competitive (you can be up against the whole world and his dog for some of the more popular ones), hence why some prefer to opt for graduate jobs instead. But what’s the difference anyway? And which sectors are most likely to be hiring in 2018? Allow me to guide you in your search for a truly great graduate role in 2018..

What are graduate jobs, anyway?

The definition of a graduate job is rather hazy, but the general consensus is that it refers to a job which can only be obtained if you have a degree. There are of course exceptions to the rule i.e. a person may work their way up to a graduate role without obtaining a traditional degree, but usually applications to these jobs require a formal qualification from a University.

Graduate Jobs vs graduate Schemes: what’s the difference?

You’ve probably heard your University speak about graduate jobs and schemes as if they’re the holy grail for all grads, but what’s the difference between the two?  Well schemes tend to be for a fixed span e.g. 12, 18 months and your continued association with the company (being kept on) is often dependent on your success on the scheme. Something advertised as a graduate job is usually an entry level role, targeted at graduates and works like a normal job; i.e. it’s permanent. As the University of Bristol explained on their careers blog; “a graduate scheme is usually a structured position within an organisation or business. Graduate schemes exist in private, public or third sector organisations across virtually all sectors…. Graduate jobs are still aimed at motivated, high-calibre graduates and often include training and support, but are less structured than graduate schemes. They may be with smaller companies or organisations that take on smaller numbers of grads, but they are found across just as many sectors and include a huge variety of types of work and job roles.”

Grad schemes are often popular because they offer special training and guidance for their duration or a rotational program where the graduate spends time in different departments. They also offer support, training and sometimes the opportunity to study for a professional qualification linked to the role. However, if you’re someone who struggles with structure and rigid time-scales, remember that despite being given some training, some graduates can feel overwhelmed as these roles can be high pressure. On the other hand, graduate jobs often allow the opportunity to learn on the go and gain valuable experience in a more flexible work environment.

grad jobs 1

How can you get well paid graduate jobs?

In order to even get paid, you need to be hired, so the first question is: which Universities are targeted by employers the most? According to Target Careers, employers accept applications from graduates of any university. But they sometimes focus their efforts more on Russell group institutions, or those which are known for producing the best candidates for certain roles as recruiting can cost a lot of money. Although it’s not true in all cases, scoring well-paid, top graduate jobs can be made a little easier if you’ve attended a Uni with a great rep, or been accepted onto a nationally-renowned course. The Times and Sunday Times’ Good Education Guide for 2018 recently reported that the most sought-after university graduates were from:

1. St George’s University London 

2. Imperial College London 

3. University of Cambridge 

 4. London School of Economics and Political Science 

 5. University of Birmingham

However, remember that it’s not all in a name - other conditions are important too such as; how hard you work, whether you take on any work experience, how resilient you are as a person, and the types of graduate schemes and graduate jobs you apply to – not all of them will be looking for a 2:1 from a top institution.

Graduate jobs beyond 2018: which industries are growing?

As the new year approaches, a question on your mind may be; what industry will I be most sought after when it comes to graduate jobs? When it comes to thinking about this, remember that there’s little point in forcing yourself into a sector that you’re not naturally adept at. Think long-term and look to the job market beyond next year, and what will make you happiest. Saying that, it’s still good to take into consideration what sectors may be booming in the near future. High Fliers (an independent market research company which specialises in student and graduate recruitment research), reported that the biggest growth in graduate vacancies last year was expected in public sector organisations and high street & online retailers, so it’s possible this could happen in 2018 too. And  We Forum reports that jobs in data analysis, architecture, business and financial operations,  IT and sales will all boom by 2020 – could you work in one of these areas?

Graduate jobs: getting paid

According to High Fliers, in 2017, graduate starting salaries in the UK are around £30k, with higher salaries reported in law, investment banking and oil and energy companies. The highest published graduate starting salaries for 2017 included;

  • Newton Europe (£45,000)
  • Law firms Baker & McKenzie (£45,000), Herbert Smith Freehills (£44,000), Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Linklaters and Slaughter and May (each £43,000)
  • Retailer Aldi (£42,000)
  •  The European Commission (£42,000).

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Graduate jobs: do you need a 2:1?

For the highly competitive schemes, often the minimum requirement when it comes to your degree it a 2:1. As stated in the London School of Economics career blog; “graduate schemes only make up between 10–20% of all graduate jobs and the 2:2 requirement may only apply to certain schemes.”  Getting a 2:2 therefore isn’t the end of the world and many companies offer programmes for 2:2 below such as;

  • GCHQ – The Future Leaders Programme
  • Jaguar Landrover (300 jobs 2018)
  • NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme
  • Siemens
  • Teaching

Top graduate jobs for 2018

Several 2018 graduate opportunities which are ready for you to blow them away with your application:

  1.  PwC – Graduate opportunities throughout
    Hiring: Autumn  2018, 1200 grad jobs available
    Great for: With its a competitive starting salary in an internationally acclaimed professional services firm, the skills gained here would stand you in good stead for life.
  2.  Amazon – E-Commerce Graduate Program
    Hiring: TBC, 250+ grad jobs available
    Great for: A chance to develop the analytical and problem solving skills within an incredibly successful retail company.
  3. O2 – Various Sectors 
    Hiring: Hundreds of jobs across digital, finance, tech and other sectors
    Great for: Grads who want a salary of £30,000 in a big telecoms company with room for progression.
  4.  Unilever – Future Leaders Program
    Hiring: Spring 2018, 45 – 50 grad jobs in 2018
    Great for: With a variety of sectors to apply for including Marketing, Human Resources and Research, You really can shape a career made for you
  5.  Think Ahead – The Think Ahead Program
    Hiring: July 2018, 100 grad Jobs in 2018
    Great for: Social work is an incredibly underrated yet incredibly important sector. The work they do makes for a positive impact.
  6. White & Case – Vacation Schemes
    Hiring: Spring, Summer and Winter 2018, 50 grad jobs 2018.
    Great for: Vacation schemes will give you experience at a law firm and this one was voted The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers 2017. With a starting salary can be £46,000 it’s a place to learn the ropes of the legal world and get paid well for it too.


Top tips to secure great graduate jobs in 2018

So you know what’s out there, but how else can you ensure you nab one of these top graduate jobs next year? Well, aside from getting a good degree from a good Uni, be sure to widen your skill set and participate in a range of extra curricular activities that show employers how you’ve prepared for your future career whilst at college or Uni. With so many candidates having the same educational qualification you need something that sets you apart; do you like building model ships, or taking part in your debate organisation at university? Or could you get some work experience through Go Think Big? Let it be known. It may be what makes you memorable to employers.

Gaining a graduate job is no easy task but then again anything worth having  is easy to gain. Perseverance will pay off, that’s not just a cliché. Remember that when you’re stuck in treacle, you just have to keep swimming!

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