When to apply

When to apply

Find a job

The graduate recruitment season can be a minefield. With graduate schemes, graduate jobs, work placements, and internships to consider, it's no wonder many graduates get confused.

This section is a general guide to the application processes so that you are in the best position to decide which route is best for you, and when to start applying.

For those of you in your final year of university, September to January is vital in terms of application, particularly for large companies and competitive industries. It is worth getting in early and not waiting until the end of the year to start thinking about where you want to apply. So whether it's Graduate Schemes, Graduate Jobs, or Work Placements and Internships, take a look to make sure you don't miss out.

When to Apply

  • Graduate Jobs: year-round, with seasonal peaks May - July / September - November.
  • Graduate Schemes: September the year before you'd like to start
  • Placements/Work Experience: year-round
  • Internships: September the year before you'd like to start

Graduate jobs

Graduate jobs are available all year-round, with seasonal peaks around May - July and September - November.

Graduates jobs differ from schemes in that schemes typically only last for a set period of time and blend workplace training with academic study, further preparing you for a full time position at the company. A graduate job, on the other hand, means that you'll join the company like any on employee, learning the role as you go.

Employers generally like to fill a role within four to six weeks of posting the position, with most using a variation on the standard recruitment process as follows:

Job process

Graduate Schemes

Many graduate schemes operate on a seasonal basis, meaning that there is a set period for accepting applications. If you miss out on the application process, you might have to wait for the application window to open back up the following year.

The application process usually begins in September of your final year, with start dates for the successful candidates being the following August/September. Traditionally, graduate schemes have a lengthy application process with interviews and assessments being undertaken in the new year.

Placements/Work Experience

These opportunities are not as seasonal as graduate schemes, but will be in higher demand towards the end of the school year, so it is always a good idea to start applying for roles as early as possible in order to secure yourself work experience.

Graduate recruitment timeline


Most internships take place in the summer, with applications opening from September the year before. That said, there are still plenty of internships available throughout the year, so start applying as soon as possible.

Internships can vary in length depending on the needs of the employer or the availability of the intern. Some internships run on a less formal basis, and some can eve be arranged to fit around studies.


The most common durations are:

So don't miss the boat. Give yourself a reasonable chance of getting that graduate job by getting your application to a prospective employer early. Remember, the period of September to January of your final academic year is often crucial, particularly if you are looking to apply to larger organisations with established graduate schemes. Although this does not apply to all recruiters, it is worth taking into consideration when you are looking to start your graduate job hunt.