Any graduate searching for their first role after completing university will be faced with many different ‘graduate’ options. It’s easy to become overwhelmed, confused, and unsure of which route to take.

Understanding the importance of these different terms, and the option that is most beneficial for a graduate’s needs, will not only help with their job search, it is also crucial in defining their future career path.

Graduate schemes

Graduates will have first heard of graduate schemes at careers fairs, during their final year in university. But what exactly is a graduate scheme, and is it for you?

Why choose graduate schemes over graduate jobs?

A graduate scheme is a structured programme combining working and training, targeted to recent graduates. Usually, they are offered by larger businesses and can last for 3 months to 3 years.

They can often be described as rigid and intense with some schemes requiring flexibility for time and location. The completion of most graduate schemes will also offer professional qualifications, however, full-time employment isn’t always guaranteed.

As graduate schemes are a favoured recruitment option for large, well-known organisations, the application process is extremely competitive, with hundreds of applicants competing for very few spaces.

In order to whittle down the competition, each candidate must meet certain criteria before they are selected for the application process, which will usually include a minimum grade 2:1 in their overall degree.

Graduate jobs

Graduate/entry level jobs are again targeted towards newly graduated students, these jobs can be found across all different types of sectors and industries and they can be full-time, part-time or contracting positions.

Why choose graduate jobs over graduate schemes?

These roles are beneficial for graduates, who are not entirely sure of the role in which they would like to perform. However, they are aware of the industry they would like to work in.

These roles, therefore, give candidates a foot in the door of these industries within roles that give a broader introduction into different sectors, with a view of being able to promote internally and climb the professional career ladder.

Graduate jobs cater to applicants who have already graduated, and who are available for immediate start. Although there isn’t a definitive structure to these roles, training and development opportunities are offered from the outset, with many finding progression within their role quickly.

Many graduates who accept these roles should be proactive to build their own personal brand, to ensure they are noticed for future opportunities, a great way to do this is to build your professional LinkedIn account.

The difference between graduate schemes and graduate jobs

It can be said that the differences between graduate schemes and jobs are subtle, as they both offer certain desirable qualities such as training and development.

However, graduate jobs are unlikely to offer the definitive structure found in graduate schemes. One of the more dramatic differences within these 2 roles are the salaries.

Graduate scheme salaries are among the best in the market, with the addition of benefits such as medical care and flexitime. Graduate or entry-level jobs, however, tend to offer a basic and less desirable, entry-level wage with fewer benefits.

Although there are many differences between the two available options, it is clear that a passionate career driven individual can progress effectively on either path.