Don’t have a graduate job yet? Don’t panic!

Gareth Hughes

Gareth Hughes is the Clinical Lead for Student Space and is a psychotherapist, researcher and writer on student wellbeing, including the book Be Well, Learn Well

Sometimes, finding the right graduate job can take a little bit of time. Your career will last for decades, this is just the beginning. Give yourself the time and the space to find the right way to begin for you.

Students are bombarded with narratives in the media and our culture. These narratives can make you believe that if you don’t get a graduate job as soon as you finish university, that you have failed or that there was no point in getting your degree. This is both unhelpful and untrue. But these ideas can be powerful and lead many students to become stressed, upset and demotivated if they don’t get a job as soon as they graduate. This can be made worse if other students you know have managed to find jobs quickly.

The truth is that finding and landing the graduate job that is right for you will usually take some time.

I put too much pressure on myself to have my life together as soon as I left university. I don't have that expectation for other people, so why do I have it for myself? Not having a grad job yet doesn't make me a failure.

To help you manage this it can be worth remembering the following:

1. You don’t get a degree just to get that first job

A university education empowers you with skills, knowledge and understanding to build a different kind of life and career. Once you have found a graduate job that suits you, your education will enable you to thrive, perform better and to gain promotion or move on to the next level job.

Keep focussed on the fact that your degree is about the long term and the months getting that first job are just a less predictable part of the process.

2. Try not to compare yourself to others

Their journey is irrelevant to yours. You will have your own unique career and life. The jobs others get may not have worked out for you – and even if they would have suited you, that doesn’t mean you won’t find something as good or better. Stay focussed on where you are and what you want from your career.

3. Focus on what you have gained from university

The learning and growth you have acquired haven’t gone anywhere. You may also have had new experiences, found new friends or expanded the way you see the world. All of this will build capital that you can use to shape a life that is good for you.

Reviewing your year so far

4. Focus on other aspects of your life

Not everything is about work. Remind yourself of the good things you have outside of the job hunt.

5. Plan for now to take the pressure off

Sometimes, it can help to secure work for now while you continue to search for a graduate job. This isn’t an acknowledgement of failure, you are just securing the resources you need to keep looking for the right graduate role for you. It’s a short term step, that allows you to take your time and find the right long term step.<

How to practice self-care during your job hunt

6. Use support

Your careers service may well support you to find a graduate job for up to 3 years after graduating. You can also find articles on this site to help you refine your search strategy, improve your applications and learn from your journey so far.

Graduate jobs

Page last reviewed: June 2023