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July 18, 2023, by Leah Sharpe

I’m a Postgraduate Student and Worried About Getting a Job

By Anna Glaze-Krayer, Employability Officer

The University of Nottingham’s most recent graduate outcomes data (collected from students who graduated in 2020) provides plenty of reasons for postgraduate students to be optimistic. Surveyed 15 months after graduation, 86.6% of those with postgraduate qualifications were in what’s classed as ‘highly skilled’ work, or further higher education. Furthermore, average salaries were reported as slightly higher than those with undergraduate degrees.  

Whether you’re entering the jobs market for the first time, or returning to work after a study break, though, it can still be daunting thinking about getting a job. Read on for our top tips on approaching the job search as a postgraduate.  

When to apply

Postgraduate courses usually run through the summer, meaning that application timelines might be different than for undergraduates. Many graduate scheme applications open the year before the scheme starts (for example, if you apply in autumn 2023, you’ll start the scheme in summer or autumn 2024).  

This doesn’t mean, however, that you need to rule out graduate schemes if you’ve not already secured one. You can consider applying this autumn, after your course has finished. You’ll have some time to fill before your graduate scheme starts, but there are plenty of ways to make the most of that time, including earning some extra money through work, volunteering, studying something new, or a combination of all of these!  

Graduate schemes aren’t the only option open to you, though. Direct entry roles are advertised all year round, and across all different kinds of sectors and companies. This means you can start looking for direct entry roles in late summer, or in the autumn after you’ve finished your studies. Find out more about the difference between graduate schemes and direct entry roles.  

Either way, MyCareer is still open to you as a graduate, so you can continue to use the jobs board, and book one-to-one appointments for application support, after your finish your studies. 

What makes me different as a postgraduate student?

As a postgraduate student, you will have gained some specific skills that will help set you apart. For example, undertaking a high proportion of independent study will mean that you’re well set up to be organised and proactive in managing a workload. You may also be doing a master’s project or dissertation. A large and complex piece of work like this often involves great project management skills. And don’t forget that working with a supervisor will have given you a taste of professional workplace communication, including through emails and meetings. All this is in addition to the specific knowledge and technical skills you gain as a postgraduate student, which can be used to demonstrate your depth of knowledge in a particular field.  

Still not convinced? Try updating the education section of your CV with details about your postgraduate study. Think of it as another type of job role, and list out the different projects, responsibilities, and achievements related to your study, using a good range of action verbs. This will help you to think systematically about the skills and experience you have gained. If this sounds daunting, you can book an appointment with the Careers team, and we’ll help you out.  

 You can find more tips and resources for postgraduate students on our website.

Posted in Careers AdviceGraduating in 2023Postgraduate Taught Students