Guide to Graduate Schemes

Large graduate recruiters often run ‘graduate schemes’ or ‘graduate programmes’ – a route to employment with on the job learning, a good salary and (probably) a household name on your CV. 

If you are considering a graduate scheme or programme, here are some things to consider:

Which graduate scheme is right for me?

There is no such thing as ‘a graduate scheme’  – they are all different and come in various shapes and sizes! You really need to look at the details to understand what is on offer and choose those that suit you. For example, they can be for different durations; single location based or with positions that move geographically; they don’t all lead to a permanent job.

When do graduate schemes open?

 Many graduate schemes run annual recruitment rounds. Often they recruit in the autumn before you graduate so you probably need to be applying in the September - January of your final year. Watch out though - some recruit only in the spring. But not all operate like this, as  some employers run open recruitment . You need to do your research or you might miss out. Don’t miss the deadlines!

How do graduate schemes recruit?

The recruitment process for graduate schemes tends to consist of several stages : an initial application via CV (see our CV tips here) or application form (often on-line); psychometric or other on-line testing; telephone / skype interview; face-to-face interview; second interviews or assessment centres can all form part of the process.

There can be literally hundreds of applicants competing for each place on a graduate scheme – so it could take months to work your way through the process. Be patient – and don’t rely on just one application!

Applying takes time, so choose where you apply carefully. Put in the effort. Prepare, prepare and then prepare some more. Understand the company and why you want to work for them, personalise your application and make yourself stand out.

Where are the graduate schemes? 

Contrary to popular belief, not all the graduate schemes are in London!  Here in the south west there are a number of companies running graduate schemes – so if you want to work in the region and join a graduate programme there are options open to you.

Check out our Directory of  South West Graduate Schemes.

When do graduate schemes start? 

If you are successful, you will typically start in the September after graduation.

Finally, the big graduate schemes really are not for everyone – nor should they be. About 10% of graduates end up on these schemes, meaning 90% don’t. It's important to understand that there are more graduate career options open to you. 

Which ever path you take, we wish you every success!