Students in a lecture theatre listening to a talk

July 14, 2022, by Leah Sharpe

“I’m a Postgraduate Student, and Worried About Getting a Job”

By Jo Workman, Senior Careers Adviser

There are lots of great reasons to study at masters level, including a love for the subject even if you don’t have a specific job in mind. But at the back of your mind you might be worried whether your additional time and study will be ‘worth it’ in terms of securing a job after graduation.

According to the most recent Graduate Outcomes survey, which surveyed graduates from 2019/20, 77.1% of University of Nottingham graduates from postgraduate taught degrees (MA, MSc etc) are in highly skilled work, and their average salary is almost £3,000 per year higher than those with a first degree only (BA, BSc etc). A further 9.8% chose to go on to further study. The Graduate Outcomes data also suggests that postgraduates are satisfied with their career, as 88.2% of the survey respondents said that they feel their current activity is meaningful.

It’s also true that some employers actively seek to recruit masters students for their extended skills and knowledge. However, many other employers are not specifically looking for a candidate with a masters degree – they just want to find the right individual with the skills, strengths and potential they are looking for.

So, if you are worried about making your masters count and getting the job you want after graduation, it’s important to know how to identify the benefits of studying your masters, and how to communicate to an employer why this makes you a better candidate.

What have I gained from studying my masters?

First of all, reflect on your course content – obviously this is really important if you have specialist skills and knowledge crucial to the job, but it also applies to other subjects too in terms of transferable skills such as written and verbal communication, working with others, problem-solving, the list goes on! Self-assess your skills and identify where you have expanded your knowledge and abilities, and gained expertise in specific areas, beyond what you gained in your undergraduate studies.

It’s also worth thinking about the differences in the style of learning. As a masters student you will probably have done more self-directed study and may have gained new skills in working independently. You might have completed a more in-depth research project, giving you additional research and project management skills. Have you had the opportunity to become more involved in your department, and therefore not only grown your network, but also your networking skills?

Consider what it has meant to you personally to spend another year studying your subject. You might feel that the additional year of study has enabled you to grow further as a person, or it might be that your confidence has received a boost from studying at a higher level.

How do I communicate this to an employer?

Read job advertisements thoroughly to check what the employer is looking for, and showcase your masters degree in your CV and/or application by describing those elements described above – the extended knowledge, the skills you have honed further, the wider experiences you have gained. Use these experiences as examples to illustrate what you are capable of achieving. And finally, come and see the Careers and Employability Service if you’d like any help or advice when making applications.

Find out more about further study, finding and applying for courses, sources of funding, and figuring out whether a masters is the right step for you. 

Posted in Careers AdviceGraduating in 2022