Essential actions: December - May

Not yet got something lined up?

Don't panic - lots of good jobs and postgraduate programmes are still being advertised.

In fact, the highest number of full-time vacancies on CareerConnect is always in May/June, just before you graduate.

Three actions to focus on right now

  • Explore: Keep looking for jobs and postgraduate programmes
  • Prepare: Build and maintain your support network
  • Apply: Make use of all the support and services available at the University

Not yet started?

Catch up with our suggestions from autumn:


Keep looking for jobs and postgraduate programmes

Postgraduate programmes

Postgraduate recruitment picks up from November onwards, with funded places normally the first to be filled. Places may become available at any time of year though, particularly on Masters programmes, although funding is very limited.

  • PhDs/doctoral programmes - December onwards is peak time for PhD recruitment. If possible, before applying, make informal contact with potential supervisors (find links between your interests and their research) and with university departments (to see where opportunities and funding are likely to occur).
  • Masters or other taught programmes - Some programmes fill up very early. However, look out for adverts. If they're advertising, they're keen to fill places, possibly even with funding - ask!

Graduate jobs

Many large employers and "graduate schemes" start advertising in September. The most competitive of these will normally be filled before Christmas. However, some major graduate employers recruit all year round. Other smaller recruiters advertise at any time of year.

Confused by all these "graduate schemes", "internships" and "graduate jobs"? Want to know where else to look for jobs? How do you know what recruiters are looking for? Try our guide:

Recruitment fairs

Summer graduate recruitment events happen in late spring - summer, they may be online fairs or in person, check event details. If at all possible, don't wait or have a break before looking or you will have missed out on lots of good jobs.

Keep researching careers and employers

Some careers events take place in spring. These are generally not recruitment events but could be very useful for gathering information about careers to help your applications. Look for employer panel or information events.

Are you too late to get a job with a large recruiter?

Not necessarily. Check if they are still accepting applications. Sometimes even top employers struggle to fill roles which are unfamiliar to students. Investigate job titles which you don't recognise - you could uncover a whole new career you didn't realise existed.

Broaden your search

Look out for jobs with employers you've never heard of, whether large or small. After the autumn rush, the majority of jobs for graduates are for smaller or less well-known employers.

Note: "Smaller employer" does not mean "smaller job". Just imagine getting in on the early days of a company who could be the next "Google" or "Red Bull".

Dodge the competition

If at all possible, apply for jobs before your exams - get in early, even if that's in May. There will be far more competition if you leave it until after your exams, when thousands of other soon-to-be graduates will start applying.


Build and maintain your support network

Our recent research indicates that graduate who move quickly and smoothly into good graduate jobs tend to share career and employability tips and advice amongst their friends and social contacts, not just with employers or academics.

Everyone's heard of the high profile graduate programmes advertised in the autumn. Your contacts could be the way you hear about less well-known jobs or postgraduate programmes (particularly PhDs) available later in your final year.

Keep everyone updated

Let everyone (including academics and social contacts) know what kinds of opportunities you're considering and how your search is going. In a tough job market, people like to pass on helpful information, but they can only do this when they know what might be useful.

Keep it professional

This is time to really "professionalise" your social media presence.

  • Lock down or clean up your profiles to make sure employers don't see anything which might embarrass you
  • Think about adding a LinkedIn profile, keep it updated and join professional groups
  • Use social media to find out about jobs and research employers

Our guide tells you how:

Find support from those you know

Ask for advice, information, feedback or simply moral support from appropriate people in your network. They don't have to be in a position to give you a job to be really helpful with your career, or just to keep you going at a tough time in your degree.

Get the most from your network

Make use of the final few months of your degree to fill any remaining critical gaps in your skills, using all those opportunities only available while you're still a student.


Make use of all the support and services available at the University

You can use the Careers Service for up to 2 years after you graduate. However, it's much harder to access all the support available if you are no longer in Manchester or have to work full-time in a temporary job while you look for a better graduate position. Get as much help as you can while it's on your doorstep.

Review your CV and applications

If you've been applying but haven't been getting many interviews, your applications may not be doing you justice. Get feedback from the Careers Service, your contacts, academics (particularly for postgraduate applications) or, where possible, employers.

Interviews and assessment

If you are invited for interview, set aside time to prepare, and try to book an interview simulation with the Careers Service. If you haven't got through an interview or assessment centre, ask the recruiter for feedback.

  • Tip: If you make it clear you're not challenging their decision, just asking for advice on how to improve, you may get a better response.