Considering your options beyond a Graduate Scheme


mortar board against blue skyGraduates are facing one of the most challenging job markets to date. The pandemic has led to a significant number of graduate schemes, placements and internships either being postponed or cancelled. It is essential that Graduates are creative and proactive in their job searching abilities, not only to ensure they are staying ahead of the curve but also so they can maximise the opportunities available to them. Entry-level roles are still available across a range of different sectors, but Graduates in 2020 need to be assessing the non-linear and proactive options available, especially in a fragile competitive market.

This article explores some different avenues you can consider as a Graduate so you can remain current and prepare for an increasingly competitive labour market.

Graduate Schemes

Graduate schemes are work-based training programmes across a wide range of sectors that offer Graduates the opportunity to develop their experience in a structured environment. Whilst they have lots of benefits and perks, be mindful that they are not for everyone. Graduate Schemes tend to get advertised in the Autumn, although some leading employers are recruiting with an ongoing date. You will find Graduate schemes advertised on job boards such as and Save the Student have put together a list of schemes and deadlines.

What are your options beyond a Graduate scheme?

Your goal when graduating and entering the job market is to identify how you can gain the most exposure and develop skills and work experience in your chosen field. This does not always have to be obtained through a graduate scheme. Take some time to research and assess your chosen career path and consider alternative routes.

Entry Level jobs in Small to Medium Companies 

Many students apply for graduate schemes with large companies because they want renowned brands on their CV. Whilst large companies offer fantastic benefits and training, it’s important not to rule out the option of an entry-level position at a smaller or less well-known company. 70% of jobs are not advertised in the job market, this is often referred to as the hidden job market. Research the companies you are interested in working for and don’t be disheartened if there are no roles on the jobs page. Contact the key decision-makers on LinkedIn and apply to them directly with a speculative email. Companies will always have a preference in hiring individuals who have familiarity and a genuine interest in working for them, not only does it reflect well on the company, but it is good for business growth and retention.

Start Ups 

Although they may not offer the traditional training and mentoring that a Graduate scheme would provide, start-ups are a great opportunity to professionally grow quicker, gain more visibility within a company, and fast track your career. Start-Up jobs can be identified through sites such as and, allowing you to research roles in your location of choice. Unlike larger corporates, start-ups may not have an HR function or stringent recruitment processes, which means that unsolicited speculative cover letters or emails are better received and have a better chance of success. Make sure you emphasise the relevant skills for the chosen field as well as your innovation and creativity capabilities. Of course don’t forget a genuine interest and motivation for being part of a start-up!


73% of UK businesses say they would prefer to hire someone with voluntary experience. Not only does volunteering provide you with stronger employability prospects, life skills, and exposure to different sectors and working environments. It allows you to scope out certain industries and sectors to you can evaluate whether it is for you. Volunteering is a great way to explore career options whilst developing your skillset. You can find volunteering opportunities on sites such as

It is essential to explore all of the options available to you. Keep looking forward and use these testing times to expand your skillset, reskill, and assess your career alternatives. Research company and industry trends and utilise platforms such as LinkedIn to build relationships with decision-makers in your chosen industry.

Renovo is the UK’s leading specialist provider of outplacement and career transition support. We work with both organisations and individuals to support all their career transition requirements. If you would like to understand how Renovo can help you please call 0800 612 2011 or email

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