Careers Service

If you are in the compete phase of career thinking, you are likely to have a clear idea about what you are looking for. Your focus is now on how to find and apply to job opportunities, placements or further study. Whether you are a first year student looking for part-time work or a final year student seeking a graduate job or postgraduate study, we have everything you need to find that perfect opportunity, write a convincing application and ace that interview!

First steps

Before you start looking for opportunities, it important to make sure that the jobs or courses you are seeking are a good match with your personality and skills. Use our explore resources to help you understand more about yourself and what you want from a career.
You can also use our plan resources to ensure that what you are looking for fits into a plan for achieving your career goals. If you have not yet gained any work experience, this might be worth considering as a priority, since relevant experience is a requirement for many graduate roles.
A woman at a desk receiving some advice by a professional.

Finding the right opportunities

The good news is that even in a competitive labour market, there are plenty of opportunities out there for talented students and graduates. To take advantage of these opportunities you will need to know where to find them and when to look.
Start early
Many graduate roles are open for applications from September to December in your final year. Recruitment to placement year opportunities is weighted towards the first Semester in Stage 2. Similarly, the most popular postgraduate courses may close for applications during your final year. So the earlier you can start searching, the better.
Where to look
Generic job sites like  can be useful, but to increase the pool of available vacancies you will need to use targeted graduate job sites, placement sites and specialist industry-specific sites. Similarly, for postgraduate study, there are dedicated websites for postgraduate course searching.
It is also worth knowing that an estimated 70% of graduate roles are not widely advertised. It is therefore invaluable to make use of contacts and networks within your job sector to discover new and exciting opportunities.
Harness your network
Many jobs, placements and internships are found through informal networks and contacts. Growing a network of contacts within your chosen industry can raise your profile to potential recruiters and open up new opportunities. Furthermore, your network can be a source of advice and support when completing applications, not least because your contacts will be able to provide industry insights that will strengthen your applications. The following resources will help you to create and harness your network:
  • Connect with professionals using LinkedIn – information and advice on how to use LinkedIn to interact with professionals, graduates and others to open up opportunities
  • – use our online tool discover companies in a specific sector, find people who work at specific companies, or identify people in certain roles
  • Get support from a professional mentor – our mentors come from a variety of career sectors and can provide insights into their sector, help with applications and building your confidence
Further job search advice
  • – watch a short tutorial on how to unlock the secrets of job-seeking success
  • – hear from graduate recruiters offering practical job search advice
Business meeting
Business management student in a meeting
Plymouth students working on a group project

Get the competitive edge when applying

Recruitment and selection methods vary, but in most cases you will invited to submit an online application form in the first instance. Some employers may request a CV, so it is useful to prepare one in advance that you can adjust for different opportunities and employers.
If short-listed, you will then be invited to an interview. Sometimes interviews are combined with other activities (eg. a presentation, group activity, or written task) as part of an ‘assessment centre’ event. Many  also include an aptitude or psychometric test as part of their selection methods.
The key to performing well in selection processes is preparation. You will need to identify exactly what skills, qualities and experience the recruiter is looking for and provide convincing examples that demonstrate your effective application of these competencies. Use our resources below to get ahead of the curve in all aspects of the recruitment cycle. 
  • – upload your CV to our CV360 tool and receive instant feedback and suggestions
  • – try out a wide variety of commonly used assessments and get feedback on your performance
  • - practise your interview technique and get instant feedback with our online simulator; browse commonly asked questions.
Careers CV interviews

Employer fairs, events and workshops

Our employer events are a great opportunity to meet employers, discover opportunities and get your questions answered. These events include employer presentations and panels, careers fairs, networking sessions and business competitions.
Career events and workshops

Accelerate Your Future Workshops
We also run regular bite-sized workshops to help you succeed in the recruitment process.

The following workshop titles are particularly relevant for students in the Compete phase of career thinking:
Search for upcoming Accelerate Your Future workshops on .

Self-employment, working as a freelancer and/or running your own business

If you want to set up your own business or work in a self-employed capacity, then you will need to think creatively and use your initiative to shape your own future.

The Cube is the University’s business creation and growth service, offering advice, funding and support to students and graduates.

Find out more about self-employment.

Unsplash stock working image

Our helpdesk is open to all careers related enquiries Monday to Friday, which is ideal for quick queries or discussions about how we could support you on your journey. If you are not on campus you can speak to our helpdesk virtually via phone 01752 587456 or email

If you would like some information and advice regarding your future career, you can book a  with one of our advisers or a 30-minute  with one of our qualified Careers Consultants.

All our appointments are currently delivered either via Zoom or telephone. If you have any concerns or questions please do not hesitate to contact us directly on 01752 587456 or email

Further help and support 


We have a number of mentoring programmes that provide students with a personal mentor. Our mentors come from a variety of career sectors and can offer insights into their sector, help with applications and building your confidence

Get support from a professional mentor

Talk to an adviser

Our trained advisers can help you think through your plans and prioritise the actions you need to take.

Eleanor Moor-Bardell, BSc (Hons) Chemistry

"I’m in my final year of my Chemistry degree and I know what I’d like to start a career in when I graduate. I have used the Careers Service for support to help me with every stage of the application process for graduate roles – from CVs and cover letters to psychometric tests, all the way to interview techniques. I would recommend starting with their digital resources and webinars to help build a personal brand and draft applications, and then going in for an application appointment to really help tailor your application and ensure it is as strong as possible. Also, take advantage of all the networking opportunities – you never know who you may meet!"

                                               – Eleanor, BSc (Hons) Chemistry

Don’t miss out, follow us on social media