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Graduate success and employability


Resources from the York St John Careers team to help you explore your options after study.

Group of graduates outside York Minster lifting mortar boards. Image is decorated with branded patterns for the Digital Graduate Package.

Not sure what you'd like to do in your professional career?

Explore yourself, your values and motivations, and the career options that are available to you after your degree at York St John University.



'Values' is a term that is often used in society but what does it actually mean? And how can you explore your values to make decisions around your career?

Values are basic and fundamental beliefs that guide or motivate attitudes or actions. They help us determine what is important to us. Identifying your values and principles can be helpful in defining your ideal professional environment, whether that is oriented around career advancement, job satisfaction, financial stability, or many other factors. Aligning your choice of employment with your career values can help you to narrow down your career options and set specific goals.

The values identifier worksheet can be beneficial in helping you recognise the values that you align with. This worksheet is unique to you and your values may change over time. You can also use the sheet to identify your anti-values (the values you feel that represent you the least). It's important to be aware of your values as this will help you align yourself to future employers and career paths.

Values Identifier (PDF, 0.7 MB)

Skills, strengths and attributes

Knowledge of your skills and strengths is vital when making decisions about your career. As graduates, it will be useful to understand what things you believe you are good at, but also areas that you can develop. This will help you articulate your skills and strengths during application and interview processes.

The York St John graduate attributes are key skills that we want all students to have developed through their study and student experience. As well as other skills, knowledge and competencies gained from your time at York St John, these attributes are designed to enable you to thrive in life and work. Understanding where your own skills and strengths align with the York St John graduate attributes can better inform your career-decision making and help you identify areas for development.

Graduate attributes

The Skills Audit is designed to help you identify your skills and strengths, in line with the University's graduate attributes. You can use the Skills Audit to assess your own attributes so that you're aware of areas that you excel in, but also areas that you believe you can develop.

Skills Audit (PDF, 1.3 MB)

Below are some external resources that may be of use to help you identify your skills, strengths and attributes.


Self-awareness refers to how well you know yourself, your skills and strengths, your personality, interests and values, as well as what matters to you as an individual.

Being self-aware is crucial to enable you to flourish in life and feel fulfilled. It can help you figure out career options most aligned to who you are as an individual, and allows you to identify any areas to work on and develop.

Before completing this section, we would recommend first taking a look at the Values section and completing the associated activities.

If you asked a group of people, 'what are the first 10 words that come to your mind when you think of the word cake?' It is likely that no two people would have the exact same list of words. Why? Because we are all unique and there are a multitude of factors that shape our perceptions of cake. Thinking about the experiences, beliefs and values that affect our perception of something like a cake can enable us to develop self-awareness and subsequently, understand our perceptions of different types of careers, jobs or roles in our lives.

Perception can be shaped by:

  • Our upbringing and family life
  • Any religious or spiritual beliefs
  • Past experiences with a similar object or situation
  • Personal circumstances or preferences
  • Our gender identity or sexuality
  • The way the object or situation is advertised to us

Just as no two people will have identical perceptions of cake, no two people will have the exact same goals, ambitions or values in life. It is essential to develop awareness around our own beliefs and desires so that we can flourish and thrive throughout our lives.

Flourish and Thrive (PDF, 1.4 MB)

Another way we can develop our self-awareness around career thinking is by conducting a SWOT analysis, to explore our Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats, and identify any areas for development.

SWOT Analysis Worksheet (PDF, 0.8 MB)

You may wish to use your SWOT analysis when looking at the Goal Setting and SMART targets section of our website.

Personal branding

Personal branding is the portrayal of your identity. It communicates your values, and projects your vision of who you want to be and what you want to stand for. Having a well thought out personal mission statement is central to, and an anchor for, your personal branding. This helps you to stand out from the crowd and align opportunities with your core values and goals.

All companies will have their own brand, values, affiliations and mission statements. Creating your own enables you to see which companies you liaise with and would work well with, or who can support you if you are looking into a freelance or a portfolio career.

If you haven't already, take a look at our self-awareness resources, as being self-aware is crucial to understanding your personal brand. The most important thing is to ensure that your brand is authentic to you, and what you can bring to the world.

In 'The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life', sociologist Erving Goffman suggests that we have a front-stage and a back-stage. Our back-stage is our private life, who we are behind closed doors, and our front-stage is how we present ourselves to others. We also perform different roles in different aspects of our lives, such as a friend, a student, an employee, a partner or a parent. (Goffman, E. (1959). The presentation of self in everyday life. Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group). When building your brand, you may wish to consider the different aspects of your own life, and what makes you, you. Download our worksheet to help curate your own personal brand.

Personal Branding (PDF, 1 MB)

As well as creating your own personal brand, it is a good idea to start curating your own mission statement. You can use your personal mission statement within aspects of your personal branding such as your CV and LinkedIn profile. It can be a tool to provide you with confidence when facing challenging situations such as interviews, and throughout life. Download our worksheet to help you craft your very own mission statement.

Mission Statements (PDF, 1 MB)

Goal setting and SMART targets

When it comes to career planning, it can be helpful to set both short and long-term goals for yourself.

These can be as simple as spending an hour a week going through the resources within the York St John Graduate Package, or as complex as wanting to secure a graduate job in the marketing sector by September.

We will use this section to explore effective goal setting, including SMART targets and a Personal Development Plan.

Employment discovery

Graduate schemes

A graduate scheme is a structured training programme run by employers, focusing on your professional development and often providing opportunity to experience multiple business areas. They generally last between 1 and 2 years and involve a rigorous recruitment process. They are available in many careers and industries and offered by a wide range of employers. 

To learn more about graduate schemes have a look on the Prospects website. We also recommended visiting both Milkround and Target Jobs for more information around graduate schemes.

Opportunity searching

You may be unsure what to do after graduating, or you may have a clear idea on your future career trajectory. Wherever you are at with your career thinking, it can be helpful to explore the variety of opportunities that might be available to you, to help you with your career planning and decision making.

What do you like the sound of? What interests you? What do you find interesting about it? What might you need to work on to get there?

A good place to start is by completing the Prospects career planner quiz, to help you develop your self-awareness and explore the careers you are matched with.

If the outcome of the quiz is not aligned with your interests, another great place to start is the What can I do with my degree? section of Prospects, which provides a list of career options directly related to your degree, as well as roles where your degree would be useful. You can select each of these roles to discover more about the required skills, experience and responsibilities of each role.

There are a multitude of Graduate job websites out there. We have listed some of our favourites below: 

If you are looking for a role in a specific industry, take a look at sector specific websites, such as TES for teaching jobs, or UK Sport for jobs in the sporting industry. If you want to work for a specific organisation, their own website is the best place to start.

Some more generic job sites are listed below: 

It is also worth searching for recruitment agencies in your local area if you are struggling to find employment.

More resources