What If I Want A Graduate Programme Outside London?

Not all graduate jobs are in London – not even all the “graduate schemes”. One of the comments I got on my last post (about graduate recruitment for 2013 already starting) asked about graduate programmes in South Wales.

I know a lot of you also want to avoid moving to London but don’t want to miss out on some really great graduate level jobs, so I’ll reproduce my (slightly amended) answer here:

Are there any good Graduate programmes that run with positions in South Wales? Almost everything seems to be based in London!

Depends on what sort of jobs you want! If you want some sort of “managed programme” for graduates, you probably need an organisation which is fairly large, with either a headquarters or major office/presence in South Wales, or multiple branches across the country where they place graduates. [This holds true for any part of the UK. If you’re lucky, you can find regional publications with this information – like the North West Top 200 Companies I blogged about last year.]

High Fliers research (pdf of their “Graduate Market in 2012” report) found that for the Times Top 100 companies that they surveyed, 41% expected to have jobs in Wales for 2012 – so it’s definitely not a lost cause. Unfortunately, they didn’t say which 41% had jobs in South Wales, but it doesn’t take much to guess that it would include the major accountancy firms, the BBC and the big retailers on their list for starters. [Page 14 of this report has data for other parts of the UK, in addition to Wales. For example, 52% expected to have vacancies in the North West.]

If you can get hold of a paper copy of the TARGET jobs GET directory, it has a handy table at the back with the location of the companies who advertise graduate jobs with them (though that list isn’t online).

If you take the approach that large companies headquartered in South Wales are more likely to have graduate schemes, have a look at all the large organisations in South Wales. Wouldn’t normally recommend Wikipedia (although, let’s be honest – we all use it!) but it does have a page of Companies of Wales by head office location – you could check each one of these out. [There’s an equivalent Companies of the United Kingdom by head office location page – although I was amused to see Cornwall listed separately from England. Must be some Cornish nationalist Wikipedia editors.]

If you still have access to a university library, you could use one of their databases to search for companies in specific locations above a certain size (number of employees or financial measures). The University of Manchester Library has the FAME database (instructions here) which also gets to those multinationals which aren’t headquartered in Wales [or any other part of the UK] but have a significant presence there.

And of course, you have to remember that most graduates don’t go into a “graduate programme” – they go into graduate level work with smaller organisations. This certainly doesn’t have to be second best. Many of the most exciting jobs will be in small fast-moving companies, in the creative sector, in technology, in consulting etc. They can also be advertised at any time of year and are more likely to be looking for talent 2 or 3 months before they want you to start. You do need to be prepared to take responsibility early in these companies, but you avoid just being the latest “new grad” going through the system.

One final caveat – many of these “graduate programmes” for the large high profile employers are advertised once a year, in the early autumn (or even summer), a year before you would start. In another comment on my last post, Tommy asked if he was being over-enthusiastic thinking of applying now for some of these programmes, before he’d even started his Masters in September. My view? He’s the smart one, giving himself the best chance of getting into these highly competitive programmes which will often be full well before the official closing dates.

2013 Graduate Schemes Start To Open

If you’re not quite ready for starting a job yet, for example, if your Masters or PhD won’t finish until later on this year – don’t miss out now. Some of the big graduate employers are already starting to look for 2013 new starters.

Here’s some sound advice from our Information Manager, Holly Seager, from our Graduate Blog:

“While there are lots of graduate jobs being advertised at the moment with immediate start dates, some 2013 graduate schemes are also opening now. These opportunities are open to graduates from previous years as well as the class of 2013. If you are graduating this summer, or have been out for a while and think you might be interested there are many reasons why it is a good idea to get in early…

  1. The opening date of a job is always more important than the closing date. Often organisations will close the opportunity without warning when they get enough quality applications.
  2. Organisations may start interviewing immediately. You might be able to get a firm job offer for 2013 within the next few months leaving you free to go travelling or take some time out.
  3. Some schemes fill up really quickly and if you don’t apply early you won’t get in at all. One example is Teach First, for the last three years they have filled their places for humanities graduates by September! Even if spaces are left on the scheme you are applying for it is always better to be interviewed when they have dozens of jobs to fill than when they only have one or two left. Every year I meet students and graduates who pass the recruitment process but are told that they are not being made a job offer as the last place has just been filled.
  4. Applications take a long time to do properly. You can do a better job if you apply to one or two a week as they open, rather than trying to send 15 all at once later in the year.

Here are a few companies advertising at the moment:

  • AECOM – starting June 2013
  • Tesco procurement graduate programme
  • Factset – this one starts January 2013
  • Teach First – starting summer 2013, or you can apply for a deferred place for 2014.
  • Clarksons (global shipping)
  • Deutsche Bank
  • Accenture – limited opportunities to join from spring 2013 in Consulting

More will be opening applications soon. Ernst and Young for instance have contacted us to say they are opening applications on July 1st. Investment banks in particular tend to open applications in the summer.

If you are interested in a particular company be sure to check their website regularly/follow them on Facebook or Twitter/sign up for email notifications so you don’t miss out. You can start researching them now and deciding which opportunities to apply for so that when applications open you can be one of the first to send a well thought out, polished application.”

Graduate Fair – Who Are Employers Looking For?

List of what employers are looking for at the Graduate Fair (pdf)

Don’t you wish there was an easy way of finding out which, if any, employers need people in your subject at the Graduate Fair on 13th and 14th of June?

Well, there is – here (pdf document)

You’ll see that there are lots of recruiters who will take people from any subject, as well as those who are specifically looking for eg. electrical engineers, physicists, HR, psychology.

I was also interested to spot that only a few were specifically asking for a business-related degree although there are lots of “business” employers attending. That reinforces the advice that you don’t necessarily need a business qualification to get started on a business career.

Word of caution: You need to check which day specific employers are attending – there are different employers attending on each day of the fair.

Landing a Job Requires Good Luck or Hard Work?

Guess what? We’d love the answer to that one as well.

That’s one reason we’ve just launched a short survey to find out what our students have done before and during their current degree to improve their chances of moving into a great career.

There’s the usual prize draw for current University of Manchester students (undergraduates or postgraduates) to win one of four £50 Amazon vouchers if you respond by 18th May.

To complete the survey, click here.

We’ve also asked whether you’ve already been offered a job or a place on a further postgrad study course. This means that for those of you in your final year, we can see if there’s any correlation between doing stuff in the early years of a degree and later career success, or whether you can leave it all until the year before you graduate **.

I’d love to get a good response from postgraduates as well as undergraduates, to give me some real data to work with (ooh, lovely data – om nom nom) rather than relying on anecdote and instinct.

Expect the results to feature on this blog and in my postgrad careers talks in the future.

(** Yes I know it’s often more complicated than that. For example, many of our international PhDs have a job to go back to before they even join us in the first year. However, we can factor that in, and figure out if we need to do further surveys to tease out some of the nuances for particular groups.)

Queen In Three …

Here’s a Jubilee networking challenge for you, inspired by my other half announcing this weekend that he was three connections away from all the world’s leaders.

I was sceptical until he pointed out that through his voluntary work, he knew the Lord-Lieutenants for two counties. They represent the Queen in their county … and she’s got everyone on speed-dial.

It brought it home to me that it’s really not that hard to find some sort of connection with whoever you want, and that links with the high and mighty may come through social contacts as much as through senior work contacts. Of course, whether those long-range connections could actually put you in contact with the people you’d like to meet is another matter. (I suspect HRM may not be passing on Mandela’s mobile number to me any time soon.)

Even so, it suddenly felt quite impressive to realise that the Queen was one of my third level contacts

  • Me → 1st level: other half → 2nd: Lord-Lieutenant → 3rd: Queen

This also means that if you know me, you’re at least within four contacts, maybe fewer if you have any closer connections.

So, to make this international, how many contacts would it take to get to your chosen Head of State?

Rules are that your contact has to know you by name and would be able to pick you out of a police line-up! Can anyone else beat “Queen in three”?

The Job Market At The End Of The Year

It’s been a turbulent year with the prospect of a lot more uncertainty to come in 2012, particularly for those hoping to establish themselves in the job market. Here are some thoughts in case you have a crisis of career confidence over the Christmas and New Year break.

Current job market
Unfortunately, this year I can’t do my Christmas vacancy round up chart showing how vacancies sent to the Careers Service have changed over the years. We’ve changed our database, and can’t be sure we’re comparing like with like for previous years (on the upside, we think we’ve got more accurate figures now).

However, here are a few stats:

  • In November 2011, we carried  415 job ads for full-time vacancies – this compares to 316 for November 2010 (the first month we had data from our new database)
  • I don’t have the full December figures yet, but in a spot check this week, we had over 350 active, full-time job ads on CareersLink. (Last year’s figures were 201, though that was on our old database.)
  • Over 80 full-time job ads were added in the last week. Who says no-one advertises at Christmas? What’s more, a fair number of these new job ads had early January closing dates, so don’t delay “getting round to” applying for these jobs – mid January may be too late.

To be honest, that’s a better picture than I expected. I’m normally pretty bullish about the real state of the graduate job market, bolstered by knowing how many jobs we get sent, which has often been at odds with the media picture of “no graduate jobs this year”. I admit I feel much more nervous than in previous years about the future job market, but maybe it’s just the “hell-in-a-handcart” hype which has finally worn me down – here’s hoping!

Take a chance on different jobs?
One more worrying phenomenon we’ve spotted is the number of good jobs which we’ve advertised which have attracted few views, never mind applications. In November, there were almost 35,000 views of vacancies on CareersLink – but they’re not evenly spread. Cast your net a bit wider in the kind of posts you’re prepared to look at and you may find some plum jobs there for the taking.

Finding A Job For Postgraduates – New Slidecast

Want to know how to find jobs, including all that stuff about “the hidden job market”? Here’s the slidecast from my recent talks to postgraduates. It includes:

  • How to do your background research
  • How employers recruit – and why just looking for ads means you miss most of the jobs being filled every day
  • How to find sources of ads (some starting points – can’t cover all the hundreds of specialist job sites though)
  • Agencies – how they work and some recent developments
  • Using contacts – some practical hints on how to make the most of your contacts without hassling them
  • Strategies for becoming an “internal candidate”

Good luck with finding jobs!

The Job Market For PhDs – New Slidecast

For those who didn’t catch my face-to-face talk on” Finding a job for PhDs”, here’s the slidecast (slides plus audio) for the section on “The Job Market for PhDs”.

Slides 3-7 cover where PhDs go for 5 broad discipline groups. For this section, unless you’re really keen on labour market info, I’d just skip to the slide which covers the discipline you’re in:

  • Slide 3 – Biomedical sciences (includes clinical psychologists, clinicians doing doctoral research etc, plus some bench scientists)
  • Slide 4 – Biological sciences (most lab scientists in life science)
  • Slide 5 – Physical sciences and engineering
  • Slide 6 – Arts and humanities (excluding social sciences)
  • Slide 7 – Social sciences

I’ve repeated the description of what the graph covers for each discipline, so you don’t need to wade through all the discipline slides.

I’m hoping to get chance to edit the final section of my original talk (How to find jobs for postgraduates) and upload it tomorrow (fingers crossed!)

Job Market For Masters Postgraduates

I’ve now updated my slidecast (that’s an online slideshow plus audio soundtrack) for the talks I did recently on the Job Market for Masters Postgraduates.

I’ve got two more to edit and upload (that’s the equivalent talk for PhDs, and a general update on finding jobs for all postgraduates) but in the meantime, in case you missed it, here’s the Masters version:

You can also view the slidecast on the Postgraduate careers website and the Online talks page on this blog.

News From The Fair

I’m now back from the Engineering, Science & Technology Fair in Manchester, which was buzzing as usual.

Here are comments from a few of the employers I talked to:

Victrex – maybe not the name on everyone’s lips, but a worldwide polymer company, headquartered in Thornton Cleveleys, in North West England. They do take chemists, chemical engineers but were particularly searching for a good control engineer. If that’s you, get in touch with them.


Tata Chemicals – you must have heard of Tata, one of the biggest names worldwide in many sectors, but did you know they had a base in Northwich, in Cheshire? Refreshingly, they were looking for any science or engineering discipline for their graduate training programme, which will give you experience in strategic planning, business development, operations and specific business projects.


National Grid – they were also open to any discipline, including non-science and engineering for their commercial graduate schemes. You might also be interested to know that they do pay more (£1K) for a Masters, and were shocked to find out that others generally didn’t. So, an organisation which really values postgraduate study.


Contact Singapore – if you fancy experiencing life outside the UK and are interested in relocating to Singapore, this organisation wants to hear from you. If you have the kind of skills or degree which are in demand in Singapore, work visas don’t have to be a headache – and they are particularly interested in researchers, either for PhD scholarships or research posts based in Singapore.


Balfour Beattie – not just the largest construction company in the UK, but also a provider of consultancy services on major infrastructure projects, since acquiring Parsons Brinckerhoff a couple of years ago. It was really encouraging to see one person on the stand (let’s call him “Gary” – not the one pictured!) who eventually admitted that, in spite of the suit and looking like he had loads of experience, he was a PhD who had only joined the PB part of Balfour Beattie a couple of months ago. That’s another good reason for postgrads to go to graduate fairs – you never know who’s got a postgrad degree lurking in the background.


Bioscience Careers – no, not an employer, but recognition from all the biological science learned societies that very few bioscience companies go to careers fairs. This was your chance to quiz them on the bioscience employment market. Lots of great bioscience careers and labour market info on offer to reassure you that although bioscience companies may not be at the fairs, they are still recruiting. For example, much of the cutting edge research in bioscience is now done in smaller companies, often spin-outs from universities. They’re much too small to want a stand at a general careers fair, but a targeted speculative application with a relevant postgraduate degree might be exactly what they need.