• Research - be proactive and investigate fully ideas, options, job opportunities, locations. Use our Useful websites for job hunting
  • Get a good understanding of the graduate labour market - this powerpoint by one of our Consultants provides an overview Understanding the graduate labour market (ppsx)
  • Apply early – don’t miss out on great opportunities; you might regret it later
  • Be flexible – have a ‘Plan B’ in case your first choice doesn’t work out
  • Review your CV– is it up-to-date and does it show you in your best light? If necessary, develop your unique ‘selling points’: employers are looking for 3-dimensional graduates
  • Use your networks – they can be useful for hearing about or developing opportunities. Make sure that your social media presence is supporting and not hindering you. Look at the advice on Cybersmart for Career Success. 
  • Use Careers, Employability and Skills services – get the help you need when you need it, whether you know what you want or not
  • See our tips on how to improve your employability

These videos from Career Player include additional tips:

  • "Job hunting in tough times" (with thanks to CareerPlayer)



  • "Social media & job hunting" (with thanks to CareerPlayer)



Working in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has the largest proportion of Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and the highest rate of public sector employment in the UK. 

Not all graduate level jobs are advertised through graduate recruitment schemes with major employers and the skills you have developed through your studies, work experience and extra curricular activities will be highly sought by many types of private companies, public sector and not-for-profit organisations.

While Fair Employment legislation means employers are required to advertise vacancies you can get information on jobs and potential opportunities through using your networks and through speculative applications to companies and organisations. Speculative CVs in Northern Ireland are not accepted for job applications due to equal opportunities legislation but some organisations may accept CVs to keep it on file for a short time – in this way they can inform you if a suitable vacancy is going to be advertised. Speculative CVs can also be a useful idea if you are trying to set up some work experience.

Graduate level jobs, especially those in very competitive areas or where there are few vacancies can also be accessed through work experience, or employment in a different job within the same area of work and applying for the job you want ‘from the inside’ when the right opportunity comes up.

If opting for employment in Northern Ireland it is worth bearing in mind that:

  • you may be limiting the opportunities available to you as well as your choice of career because of the size and nature of the Northern Ireland job market
  • you can expect increasingly strong competition for vacancies

Therefore, it’s vital to think about what you can offer an employer that makes you stand out.

Recruitment in Northern Ireland tends to be quite formal in terms of procedure due to equal opportunities legislation. Vacancies are often advertised with a job description and employee specification stating essential and desirable criteria. To pass shortlisting, you need to ensure that your application shows that you meet all the essential, and as many of the desirable, criteria as possible.  

For more information on the job market in Northern Ireland see Gradireland's Working in Northern Ireland and Ireland  


Working in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland

Broadening job search to the rest of the UK and Ireland means you have access to a wider range and volume of job opportunities. Starting salaries are likely to be higher and you may also be able to gain wider experience, training and development.

Queen’s Careers, Employability and Skills’ organises Law and Finance London Study Tours which enable students to visit major graduate recruiters and meet recent graduates and alumni in the workplace.

You can also tap into the ‘hidden’ job market in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland (estimated as comprising up to 65% of job vacancies) through networking and making speculative applications with your CV to targeted employers/job sectors.

It is common for applications forms and CVs for jobs and courses to be processed as they are received rather than after the deadline. Because of this, it’s better not to leave applications to the last minute. For very popular jobs and courses places may be filled before the closing date if enough good quality applications are received.


Working outside the UK and Ireland

If you want to work abroad you will need to adopt a more targeted approach to jobhunting. If your degree course enables you to spend time abroad, or if you take part in programmes of study or work experience overseas, then use this experience to explore employment opportunities or contacts which could lead to a future job. There are also major graduate employers who have offices worldwide and can offer opportunities for their staff to work in locations such as Australia, America and Asia. This is often an easier way of getting to work abroad than seeking work through your own efforts.

For more information: