Job hunting after graduation

So what's your next step after graduation?

If you've left university and don't yet have a job, here are tips on creating an action plan for your next step.

With exams done and a long summer ahead, students and graduates can take a well earned break.
You’ve earned it! However, the next challenge is never too far away, with many graduates either now
hunting jobs or preparing themselves for starting work in September. If you’ve secured a graduate job
or are a student with a definite idea of what you want to do, well done, you have just taken a major
step and we hope that it’s on a career path that will be rewarding and fulfilling for you. However,
there are plenty of students and graduates who don’t know what the future holds for them yet, and
that’s perfectly normal, this is a time of great opportunities but very big decisions. So let’s take a look
at what your options are and how you can assess what your next step should be.

Get the information you need

This may sound vague, and indeed it is
as you may not even know what
questions you need to be asking in
order to form an informed opinion
about whether or not a certain career
is right for you. But you need to start
somewhere, and where better than
hearing from someone who has been
in your shoes, as a student or graduate,
and is now working in an area that you
might be interested in? Essentially,
you’re looking to fill three knowledge
gaps relating to any career:

  • What does the job actually involve
    (ie what will I be regularly doing on a
    daily basis and would I like to do it?)
  • What skills do I need to do the job?
    (academic qualifications, hard skills,
    soft skills-do I have them and how
    do I get them?)
  • How do I get the job (ie was it
    through an internship? What was
    the application process? What do I
    need to know before I apply?)

When we conceived the #FYI
platform for gradireland.comin 2015 it
was in response to the demand from
employers for information for students
as to what exactly was required to
work in a particular job and from
students as to what jobs were open to
them with their degree and skills. So
over the past 30 months or so we have
been interviewing graduate employees
from over 30 sectors, in over 150 videos
to find out what exactly working life is
like for them and what advice they
would have for students or graduates
looking for a career in the area in which
they work. We’ve talked to
accountants, auditors, consultants,
software engineers, software
designers, scientists, food analysts,
data analysts, business analysts,
diplomats, actors, producers and
directors, to name just a few..

One of the constant themes is that
nothing is set in stone and that many
people found a career they wanted to
do by doing something else first. They
also speak about the value of
experience, about seeing what a
particular job is really like from the
inside. Why not have a look yourself
and start filling the gaps at and
visit our list of employer hubs online to
get information and insights at

Be passionate but be realistic

At a time when employers are
demanding more from their graduates
then ever before, it is almost ironic that
one of the most commonly heard
references to today’s graduates from
some elements of the media are that
they are ‘demanding’. I don’t need to
mention the ‘snowflake’ reference. The
fact is that this is inaccurate, today’s
graduates are, by and large, harder
working and willing to accept more
responsibility than any that have ever
gone before. However, with this
dynamism, which employers say they
cherish, comes elements of confusion
as one style of working clashes with

Employers don’t expect their
graduates to do things the way they
have always been done before – if they
do, they won't get the best from
them – but equally graduates need to
accept that things don’t change
overnight, and that in some cases the
new way of doing things can only work
if it works in harmony with well established principles that have gone

You need to respect the ethos
and requirements of your employers
business and work to deliver for them
before seeking to revolutionise. Of
course, you are supposed to be
aspirational and come to the
workplace with great ideas, and good
employers will listen, but nobody has
all the answers, ever, and it’s good to
realise that at the start of your career.


Over 25% of students surveyed in the
2018 gradireland Graduate Salary &
Graduate Recruitment Trends Survey said
that they would consider starting their
own business after leaving college. If
you’re one of these people, you will need
a great idea, mixed with an abundance
of passion, resilience and an ability to
network and be persuasive. There has
rarely been a better time to follow your
own path so don’t be daunted by the
challenges, be inspired.

Don't panic

The worst thing you can do is take ‘any’
job to get your career started. It could
be that your career path may lie in a
totally different direction to that which
you have studied for your degree.
That’s fine too-there’s no rulebook you
have to follow. It’s never too late to
change track with a well-chose
conversion course or further relevant
qualification obtained through
postgraduate study.

With most students staying
between three to four years in their
first job, and expecting to undergo
multiple career changes in their
working life, your first job is not a
reliable indicator as to how your career
will develop. However the job goes, it is
a significant milestone, a meaningful
pay packet and hopefully a step on a
career path that you will find
rewarding and fulfilling.

Whatever happens, never stop learning

Your degree and any other experience
you have obtained through part-time
work, volunteering or internships (see
our internships section on page 36)
have provided you with a host of
transferable skills that will stand you in
good stead whatever the sector you
want to work in.

You’re well on your way to
becoming a well-rounded individual

with the right mix of ‘employability’
skills that will make you a benefit for
any employer. But you could decide
that you need to take a year out and
travel or that you need further study to
get you to a level that you would be
happy to start a career.

Whatever you
decide, do it for the right reasons, not
just because you can’t decide on
anything else. If you travel, great, but if
you’re working on your travels keep a
note of any skills or experiences you
have that would benefit your CV. If
you’re pursuing postgraduate study,
have a clear idea of what you want to
do with the extra qualification as
further study requires considerable
financial outlay and commitment, it’s
definitely not an easy option.

Whatever you decide to do, the most
important thing is your own happiness
and wellbeing and that you are content
with the choices you have made, and
that you have learned from any
mistakes in the past. This directory is
designed as a resource to help you
navigate the job search post-graduation
or to help you through your final year in
college when you’re preparing for your
working life or considering further
study. We’re with you every step of the
way. Now let’s get started...