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How to Organise your Job Search – Top Tips for Graduates and Students

Looking for your first full-time job after university can be quite a challenge. Read these organisation tips to help you keep on track with your applications.

Five ways to organise your job search

Attempting to land your first job after university can be tough. From not knowing whether or not you will get responses back from applications to keeping track of vacancies, CVs and emails, it can become quite a challenge especially as you try to balance your job search with your studies.

Organisation is therefore crucial for staying on top of your job hunt and university work. Having a system in place can prevent the search from becoming confusing and time-consuming, allowing you to keep track of the process and prevent it from impacting on other areas of your university life.

Below are five tips to help you remain in control and give you the best chance of securing the right graduate-level role for you.

1. Outline your expectations at the very beginning

Undoubtedly, you will have certain expectations for your first job after university. Think carefully about what you want and need from your graduate-level role, paying particular attention to the following:

  • Industry
  • Business type
  • Location
  • Salary expectations
  • Working environment

Make a note of your expectations before you start, as this can help you remain completely focused and provide you with a good understanding of the end result you want to achieve.

2. Build a proper routine when job hunting

It can be easy to become lost as you get stuck into your job hunt, while postponing the most difficult tasks can also be tempting.

Build a routine so that you can remain focused and continue pushing forward. This should include putting together a schedule outlining the time you want to dedicate to job hunting every week. You also need to plan out the tasks you want to carry out over a set period of time so that you have a clear understanding of what needs to be completed in advance. We would recommend doing the most demanding work when you are most productive in order to make the most of your time.

3. Benefit from virtual tools

Make use of the different apps and tools that have been designed to support job searches.

Job boards can let you view a selection of job vacancies narrowed down by industry, which can make your search more simple and straightforward. Creating an account on Indeed can also be beneficial, as it gives you the opportunity to see millions of employment opportunities in one place. The Indeed website and app pulls in vacancies placed on all different online job boards and company websites, so that you can find suitable roles quickly and save them to one place.

Evernote can also be used to synchronise the documents related to your job hunt across all devices, allowing you to organise any covering letters and CVs that you send out.

Free management systems such as Huntsy and JibberJobber can then help you to better manage your job search. Suitable job vacancies can be manually and automatically added, while you can schedule interviews, remind yourself to send thank-you and follow-up emails, find connections and apply for jobs. Using a management system to plan out and organise your job search can break up the process into small, easily digestible tasks so you can stay on track of exactly what is going on.

4. Regularly update your plans

Many job seekers fall into the trap of establishing a strategy and then forgetting to regularly review and update it during their job search.

Update your plan every time you get a reply or there is a status change so that you can gain a clear and accurate understanding of what is completed and what still needs to be carried out. Also include dates for every action that you complete so that you can recognise when you should follow up on an email, interview or other correspondence you have had with businesses or recruitment agencies.

5. Indulge in some much-needed rest and relaxation

Job hunting can be a stressful ordeal, so clocking off and spending time away from your computer is necessary. It can allow you to clear your head and spend time with your family and friends, so that you are less likely to dread heading back to the job search the next day.

You should also take the time to talk to the people closest to you. This can help to boost motivation and hear the thoughts and opinions of those most important to you. Regular family chats can also leave you with no excuse to delay tasks, as you will be expected to provide them with a progress update.

However you approach your job hunt and whatever strategy you choose, it is crucial that you decide upon a routine that is right for you. By making organisation one of your priorities, you can stay on top of the process and continue to push forward, allowing your job search to remain as effective as possible where you are able to find and apply for the job roles that are most suitable for you.

Author Bio: Ashleigh Harman is a digital content writer for Portfolio Payroll a leading specialist payroll recruitment agency in the UK.

Survey data indicates it’s not all doom and gloom in the graduate job market

HESA Graduate destinations survey reveals Scottish graduates are faring better than their English counterparts

  1. Scotland retains lowest level of unemployment in UK at 7% this year compared to 9% in UK and 10% in England.
  2. Set against a tough labour market – the level of unemployment of graduates from Scotland’s universities remains steady at the same level as last year (7% last year too).
  3. Scotland has the highest rate of positive destinations in the UK at 90% compared to 87% in England. This marks a 2% increase compared to last year.
  4. Scottish starting salary is the best in the UK at a mean of £21,500 compared to £21,000 in the UK as a whole.
  5. Number of grads from Scotland in employment only has increased too. From 62% last year to 63/64% (depending which table you look at). It’s 62 per cent for England.

HESA survey of all undergraduate and taught post graduates 6 months after completing studies with a 70 -80% return rate:


The Association of Graduate Recruiters Summer survey of its members indicates a stabilisation of graduate recruitment levels with:

  • average UK graduates starting salaries up by £500 to £26,500
  • a smaller than expected decrease in recruitment levels in 2012 (0.6% fall as opposed to 1.2% expected earlier in the year) and
  • a reduction of the number of applicants per graduate job from 83 last year to 73 this year.

The survey is the largest of its kind in the UK covering 215 AGR members across 20 sectors providing an estimated  21,194 vacancies  taken in June 2012 and the press release is available here:


HighFliers Research which looks at the Times Top 100 graduate recruiters also published its graduate employer survey today and shows similar trends but also reflects the fact that employers surveyed are larger blue chip companies recruiting the very best students from the graduate market.

The overall stabilisation of graduate recruitment levels amongst UK recruiters hides significant changes below the surface at industry sector level where decreases in investment banking, accounting, armed services  and management consulting were balanced out by increases in Telecommunications, engineering and public sector.

Starting Salaries among these top companies are not surprisingly higher at £29,000 but do not reflect the wider pool of UK graduate level employment referred to in the HESA survey (average 21,000) or AGR members (average 26,500)

The full report is available here:


On Track: Class of 2007- Sweep Three -This report from the Scottish Funding Council presents the results of a study into the outcomes of education by tracking the longer term life choices and careers of the 2007 cohort of qualifiers from Scottish universities and colleges.

Findings indicate that the Class of 2007 were positive about the long-term impact of their course on their overall career prospects, and that 8 in 10 learners felt with hindsight that the benefits of taking the course still outweighed the financial expense involved.

The full report, which has a useful summary of findings, is available from SFC at:

In the News – Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games boost for graduates

A £10m scheme which aims to provide 1,000 jobs for graduates as a legacy of the 2014 Commonwealth Games is being unveiled by Glasgow City Council.

The Commonwealth Graduate Fund will pay employers 50% of the salary costs for graduates they take on, up to a maximum of £10,000 per graduate for one year.

Full article:

Turnaround year for graduate jobs

Is the graduate jobs market finally beginning to recover from the recession? The answer appears to be a qualified yes. A report published this month says that ‘2010 has seen a small but encouraging turnaround,’ and suggests that graduate employment is beginning to recover from the impact of the economic downturn, although it is still not back to pre-recession levels.

The report, What do graduates do?, analyses what 2010 graduates were doing six months after graduation, and finds that growth in the business and financial services has created more opportunities for recent graduates. This appears to have softened the impact of the early stages of the government’s cuts in public spending.

The proportion of 2010 graduates who were unemployed six months after finishing their degrees was 8.5%, down from 8.9% for 2009 graduates. The report commented, ‘Although the unemployment of graduates in 2010 has fallen, it remains high in comparison to the levels reported at the beginning of the recession.’


Current students who are worried about their job prospects should think about developing their employability skills – skills such as teamworking and problem-solving – through work experience, volunteering and getting involved in extracurricular activities on campus.

Click here for the full TargetJobs article

HECSU Blog article

Full report – What do graduates do? Nov_2011

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