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Graduate success and employability


Resources from the York St John Careers team to help you successfully apply for graduate opportunities.

Graduates smiling and walking past York Minster. Image is decorated with branded patterns for the Digital Graduate Package.

Found an option that feels right for you but want some tips on how to apply successfully?

Learn about different recruitment practices, brush up on your interview skills and test out the latest artificial intelligence recruitment tools.



A CV is a professional document used when applying for jobs.

You can use this CV checklist to create or update your CV. Work through these steps to prepare a professional CV that details your education and work experience.

We recommend that you have a unique CV for each job that you are applying for.

CV Checklist (PDF, 0.3 MB)

There are various types of CV that you may choose to create depending on the type of job you are applying for, the skills you have, and the amount of relevant experience you have. Please view our CV guide for examples and guidance on how to create or update your CV.

CV Examples (PDF, 1.5 MB)

Chronological style CV

Sometimes referred to as a traditional CV, a chronological CV is one of the most common types of CV used by recent graduates. Presented in reverse chronological order it displays your most recent experience and qualifications first.

Skills-based CV

Generally used by graduates with limited relevant work experience. Skills-based CVs showcase the skills you possess rather than your experience.

Technical CV

You would use this CV when applying for roles such as IT consultant and web developer. This CV may also be referred to as an IT CV.

Creative CV

This type of CV aims to demonstrate your creative ability and is largely used when applying for creative roles. More information around the pros and cons of creative CVs and inspiration can be found on the Prospects website.

You can also download the Creative CV Guide published by University of the Arts London (UAL), University for the Creative Arts (UCA) and University College Falmouth (UCF).

Creative CV Guide (PDF, 4.9 MB)

Cover letters

A cover letter accompanies a CV as part of the recruitment process.

A cover letter is an opportunity for you to talk about your skills and strengths, drawing on elements of the job description and person specification.

Download our example cover letter to see how you write a letter to match the job advert.

Writing your cover letter (PDF, 1 MB)

Further guidance for writing cover letters can be found on the Prospects website and the National Careers Service website.

Advice on how to write a successful job application can be found on the Prospects website.

Creating a LinkedIn profile

LinkedIn is the world's largest professional network with hundreds of millions of members.  It can be an excellent tool for finding a job, making connections with others and gaining knowledge about a variety of job sectors. If you do not have an account, the first step is to create one.

You can register for a new account on the LinkedIn website.

This guide from the National Careers Service explains how to set up a LinkedIn profile.

The Open University have a great guide on how to make the most of your LinkedIn profile so you can build your network, develop new skills and knowledge and find a job that is right for you. You can download this as a PDF.

Making the most of your LinkedIn profile (PDF, 1.3 MB)

Interviews and assessments


If your job application is successful, you will likely have a face to face interview with the employer, where you will be asked a series of questions to determine whether you are right for the role. Sometimes you will have assessments, tasks or presentations to complete alongside your panel interview. The employer will usually make you aware of this beforehand, so that you have time to prepare.

Interviews are also a great opportunity for you to decide if the role is right for you, and can support you to learn and develop. Even if the outcome of your interview is that you do not get the job, we would encourage you to ask for feedback from the employer, so that you understand what you can improve on moving forwards.

No matter whether your interview is online, face to face, or in a group, our top tips below can help you understand what to expect, and how best to prepare.

There are many types of interviews that you may attend as part of a recruitment process. When you are invited to an interview, you will likely be told what type of interview you will have. This will allow you to prepare accordingly.

1 to 1 interview

A 1 to 1 interview occurs between a sole interviewer and an interviewee. As a candidate you may face a series of formal or informal questions which are used to assess your suitability for the role. These interviews will often be evaluated using a scoring system which considers how well you answered the questions.

Panel interview

Similarly to a 1 to 1 interview, a panel interview will involve the candidate being asked a series of questions. This difference is that this process involves 2 or more interview panel members. It is likely that they will share the questions out between them and may pause regularly to take notes.

Video interview

Video interviews tend to be split into 2 formats: Live and recorded. A live video interview is very similar to a panel interview but will take place online, often using video meeting software like Microsoft Teams or Zoom. Recorded interviews may require you to submit video recordings of yourself answering interview questions. You may only get 1 or 2 opportunities to do this so it's important that you are prepared.

For all video interviews, make sure you have a working camera and microphone and are free from any distractions. It is also a good idea to check the link you've been sent in advance. You may wish to apply a background blur to your video if you are at home (this can be done on the video call itself). Check that you have good lighting and that your head and shoulders are clearly visible and centred within the frame. The advantage of a video interview is that you are in your own environment, and you don't have to travel to the venue. You can have notes as prompts, but it's important to not rely on them.

Group interview

Group interviews are often used by employers to assess your ability to work within a group. It may be that they have multiple vacancies and are looking to hire more than 1 candidate, or it may be that the role involves a substantial amount of group work. A group interview is your chance to shine, but not overshadow others. This LinkedIn article on Group interviews has further information and advice on how to navigate them.

Assessments or tasks

Sometimes an employer will ask you to complete a task within your interview. This could be amongst a group of other candidates, with other members of the team, or alone on a computer. For presentations, you will be told what to do beforehand. We would recommend looking at our Psychometric tests or Presentation skills resources to prepare for this. 

What should I wear?

This may depend on the role you are applying for. If it is a hands-on, practical job, you may be asked to wear work-boots or long trousers. For most graduate jobs, or if it is not specified, we would recommend dressing smartly, in tailored trousers or a skirt with a shirt or blouse. Clothes should be clean, professional and tidy.

How do I greet the interviewer?

Greeting the interview panel with a firm handshake can be a great way to make a good first impression. If you are unable to shake hands, or do not feel comfortable doing so post-pandemic, it should not hinder your chances of getting the job. You should always introduce yourself and allow the interviewers to introduce themselves to you. Remember to be polite, well-mannered and enthusiastic, allowing your positivity and personality to come across. If you have any additional requirements or adjustments, it is best practice to let the employer know ahead of time, so that they are able to accommodate you and avoid stress during the interview.

What if I don’t understand the question?

If you don’t understand an interview question, or you need some time to think about it, it's not a problem to ask the interviewer for further clarity. They are human too and want you to do well.

What about body language?

It is best practice to sit naturally, without slouching or leaning. Try to be relaxed and confident and speak in a way that is natural to you. Making eye contact, if you feel comfortable to do so, can help to make a positive connection with the interviewers.

You can download our mock interview questions to help you prepare. We would recommend practising with a friend or family member. Remember that it's important to provide evidence to support your statements, drawing on examples from your studies or any work experience you have.

Mock Interview Questions (PDF, 0.3 MB)

It's important to do your research into the organisation that you're interviewing with. Consider questions such as: What are their values or mission statement? What challenges are they facing? What is it about the organisation that has made you want that job?

Nerves are a normal part of interviews, but it is important that you are in control of them. You may find it helpful to take some deep breaths before you go into the interview, or to have something nice planned afterwards as a treat. Be sure to check out our Managing your wellbeing resources to support with anxiety in the recruitment process.

Feel free to check out our Skills articulation and Psychometric tests resources to further enhance your understanding of interviews.

Assessment centres

Assessment centres or assessment days are commonly used by graduate employers to recruit the right candidates for a variety of roles. These days will often be full of a range of exercises and tests that will be used to evaluate your suitability for a role. It's important to know what to expect when attending an assessment centre, and what your potential employers are looking for. Below are some useful resources that you can access to gain a strong understanding of assessment centres and adequately prepare.

Psychometric tests

Psychometric tests are a recruitment method typically used for graduate schemes, and by graduate employers. The most common types of psychometric tests are numerical reasoning and verbal reasoning tests which analyse your literacy and numeracy skills, as well as your speed, judgement and aptitude. Other types of psychometric testing include situational judgement tests, commonly used by the Civil Service, which involve watching a scenario and providing what you feel is the most appropriate response.

Presentation skills

Presenting can be a scary experience, but it doesn't have to be. It can be an empowering and exciting way to get a message across. Many employers use presentations as part of their interview process so it's important to feel confident and prepared when public speaking.

Below are some resources with helpful tips for preparing for a presentation.

Further study

Postgraduate degrees

You may be considering whether undertaking a postgraduate degree is the right choice for you. When considering postgraduate education, you need to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages, which will be unique to your own situation. For some professions, postgraduate qualification may be beneficial, or even necessary. It may also be that you are seeking a route into academia. Below are some resources that may be useful for you to initially explore options available to you, but to also look into how you can successfully apply for a postgraduate course.

A personal statement is your opportunity to sell yourself and demonstrate your suitability for the course.

Download our example personal statement to see how you can show your suitability.

Personal Statement Student Guide (PDF, 0.8 MB)

Working for yourself

Starting a business

Do you have a business idea? Do you want to work for yourself as a freelancer or in a self-employed capacity? Whether you have a spark of an idea or a more developed business opportunity, support and guidance is available to help you explore your next steps.

Useful resources and support available can be found on the Kickstart Programme pages on the York St John website.  

Explore support available with The Enterprise Centre at York St John.

The Prince's Trust provide help and advice to 18 to 30 year olds who are interested in starting their own business.

More resources