The Joys of the Graduate Job Hunt

by | Feb 21, 2024 | Alumni/careers, AMBS | 0 comments

Breaking into the job market is not easy, especially as a recent graduate, competing against the rest of the country (and world) for that one position that you feel like you were destined to do. It is a time where morale can become quite low, however you know that your only choice is to encourage yourself to persevere. It is also a time almost all of us have experienced, so it is important to know that you are definitely not alone, and you definitely will get your break.

In my personal experience of finishing University with an undergraduate & postgraduate degree, I thought I would be at an advantage- however I was quickly faced with the reality that sometimes, your degree is not always where the ‘hustle’ ends. I spent countless hours practicing psychometric tests, tailoring my CV to suit dozens of applications, prepping with my housemates for interviews – and yet, it was still so difficult to make the cut. I simply did not understand what I was doing wrong.

Finally, after a couple of months of pulling my hair out and stressing that I was forever going to be unemployed, I got my break. I think it is important to remember that hard work does always pay off even through all the rejection you may face, because one day, someone will see your potential and that is the gateway to a blindingly bright future ahead.

To gather some insight into what interviewers are most eager to see in candidates now, I have sought advice from senior professionals that work in Finance, Professional services and HR to understand what it is they look for in a prime candidate. Granted, we are all hardworking, driven and capable of success, but below are a few ‘boosters’ you can incorporate to your ‘self-brand’ that should help you in your interview;

  • This first point speaks for itself but do your research on the company that you apply for. This could even be as little as a day or two learning the company values, reading through case studies, and even looking at their ‘latest news’ page with recent projects/developments that have taken place. (What helped me was looked through the companies financials, future projections and also objectives they plan to achieve in their next financial year).
  • An inquisitive and curious mindset is what employers look for. You are obviously a hardworking, driven individual – but what is it about YOU that makes you interesting? Bear in mind that your interests outside work and extra-curriculars do matter, and you should bring these out with confidence.
  • Following on the above, if you have previously been in a job that may have been in a completely different industry to your current job, try and find a way to speak about it in your interview. For example, if you worked at a supermarket, you may have worked in a team or as a manager, or in customer support. What is important is how you bring out the skills that you learnt in your previous work experience (whatever they may be), how they have helped develop you and how it could help serve and add value to your employer.
  • Do not lie about your CV – interviewers can tell immediately if there is a gap in information or a lack of confidence with what is being said, honesty is always the key.
  • Think about the transferrable skills that you have coming out of University. You have spent a few consecutive years by the books, revising and researching. Try and justify how you can use your research knowledge practically in the role that you apply for and show the interviewer how you can add value.
  • When applying, be careful to not apply for multiple roles within the same Company. In all honesty, the people reviewing job applications will filter out CV’s sent to all departments, so it is likely that they may see the same CV pop up for multiple positions which may deter the progress of your application.
  • For the ‘do you have any questions for us’ – bear in mind, this is your turn to challenge the interviewer! Do a small LinkedIn search on your team prior to your interview, and if you are informed of who they are, your interviewers. Ask them what it is that makes them love their job, why they love their team and what the most exciting part of the job is for them.
  • LinkedIn is a powerful tool. Whilst in University, it may be helpful to become active on LinkedIn at an early stage to start connecting firstly with your personal network and connecting with individuals that may present a job opportunity you may be eager to connect with in the future. Remember to touch all bases when searching for jobs – sometimes your closest circle and personal network can be your way in.

To dig in a bit deeper, below I have compiled a few interviews of recent graduates from the University of Manchester that now work across a diversity of occupations and shed some light on what helped them make their cut and finding their place in the workforce.


Matthias Laroche – Founder,

UoM Degree: BSc (Hons) – Psychology

I offer recruitment and consultation services for online business owners. With the online service industry growing larger by the year, I take advantage of the large surplus of trained sales reps, remote closers and appointment setters and match with viable businesses. Here are a few tips on what I found useful to help me get to where I am today:

1) Taking part in mentorship programs and looking at where the money was flowing in the online space helped me identify this opportunity which led me to open my agency

2) One piece of advice would be to think outside the box. Everyone is applying to job ads on LinkedIn, hoping to stand out of the crowd (which they don’t). But no one goes the extra mile and finds personal emails, sends a personalized video sales letter to the CEO of the company or pulls something witty.

True story, I know someone who literally mailed a brick to a business he wanted to work with, alongside a letter saying “lets build together”. Not only did he land that job, but he’s also got his own email marketing agency making well over 7 figures these days!

Christine O’Neile – Sales Graduate, Red Hat

UoM Degree: BA (Hons) Business & Management with Modern Languages

A piece of advice would be that you really don’t need to beat yourself up about not landing the job you want straight out of uni. Experience is experience at the end of the day, and everything you do will be one step closer to getting your “dream” job.

Secondly, if you do make it to the assessment centre (if you’re applying to grad schemes), make sure that your presentation has the same ‘look and feel’ of the company you’re applying to. For example, in my very first assessment centre, I just chose random colours that I like and they pointed that out – it might seem obvious to some people but just don’t want you to make the same mistake as me!

At the assessment centre, if possible, always make the presentation relevant to the company you’re applying to. It’s more interesting for them and demonstrates business acumen.

Finally, make sure to learn healthy de-stressing methods that work for you because whilst you might not have many responsibilities in the early stages of your career, the coping habits you practice now will help you when you’re under a lot of pressure, such as meditation and exercise.

Ellie Newell: Account Manager, Allvue System

UoM Degree: BA(Hons) Modern Language and Business and Management (French)

I remember the daunting feeling of beginning my job search just as the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning to unfold. It was a time of uncertainty, and I was worried that no one would be eager to hire fresh graduates like myself.

I adopted a somewhat shotgun approach – I applied to every job opening I could find, even those I was definitely underqualified for. I did several interviews and assessment days, got a few offers but they didn’t feel right.

The pressure to secure a job after graduation can be overwhelming, and it can often lead graduates to accept offers that may not align with their long-term goals or values. It’s essential to remember that more opportunities will come your way. Each job offer you receive is an acknowledgment of your skills and potential, and it’s worth recognizing your worth during this process.

Remember, your first job out of university is just one foot into your career journey. It’s a stepping stone that will help you gain valuable experience and skills, but it doesn’t define your entire career path.

Stay true to your goals, believe in your abilities, and trust that the right opportunity will come along. Your worth is worth more than you might think.


Written by Maya, MSc Business Analysis and Strategic Management alumnus