So it's 2011, Christmas has come and gone, and you still haven't secured a permanent role much as you'd hoped to have one 'in the bag' by now. Where to go from here?
Well, firstly, all is not yet lost. Many consultancies and banks aspire to have everything filled by Christmas - and some do - but there are usually still graduate roles to be had right up into March/April if you are willing to be a bit flexible on the role / location / company you want to work for. You should also be sure to keep your eye open for roles around May/June/July time. This is usually when banks start to get reneges from graduates who have accepted 2, or even 3 roles, as they were worried that some might be pulled by the employers, or because they couldn't make up their mind. If guaranteed graduate numbers are required, some banks will look to fill these at the last minute. Efinancialcareers.co.uk is a good place to have a look, along with Targetjobs or Totaljobs.
The second major point is don’t panic and start applying to every job you see that is vaguely in the right ballpark. This will take time and effort. The most important thing to remember right now is don't sacrifice your 2:1 - keep studying! As long as you have a 2.1, you are not closing the door to a whole range of options you have with regard to the way forward. Settle for a 2.2 and you can pretty much give up hope of getting a role on a banking or consulting grad programme, regardless of the route you take.
Many people at this stage wonder whether they should 'hold out' for another year and give the application process another go to see if they have any luck getting a role in the next cycle. To make the right decision, it is worth consider how close you came during this cycle. If you applied to 5 or more banks and didn't secure any interviews, then it's possible that your profile and background unfortunately are just not right for the industry and the level of academic and extracurricular endeavour it demands from its applicants. If you got through to a couple of interviews, or even an assessment centre, then you got past the first CV review hurdle, and so with the right practice, research and further "propping-up" of your CV with more employability indicators, its entirely possible that you might do better next time around.
For the entrepreneurial amongst you, it might be worth considering starting up on your own. There is great advice, and even some financial assistance available, if you go to the right place and have a good idea for development. Check out the Princes Trust website, Shell LiveWire. Local councils also offer advice and help to new start up businesses in their area. Also check out BraveNewTalent.com.
There are still graduate programmes in Financial Services that are open to applications at the moment. Try Man Group, Prudential Momentum M&G, ING, Markit Group …. all considerable players in the FS field, even though they are perhaps not mentioned in popular media as often as the Investment Banks.
Many people will also consider going on and doing a Masters if their graduate degree has not got them the job they were hoping for. This route proves successful for many, but with a huge number of Masters Programmes and candidates out there, it might be worth considering alternative ways of developing your employability. Perhaps think about a Mountbatten Internship in New York / London, or applying to TeachFirst UK Programmes if you have the right background? Volunteering may be an option for you - there are many of the other volunteering companies out there - although beware, volunteering is often a costly business - "voluntourism" companies can charge considerable amounts, so shop around. The Global Volunteer Network offers good value for money from what I've heard. If you have an ambition in relation to volunteering, it might be worth seeing if you could do some sort of fundraising exercise to help you on your way. Volunteering can be a great way to build management skills, leadership ability, entrepreneurial experience, etc, as well as many other life skills.
Hope that's given you some ideas. And remember, some of the applications you have made you may still hear back on, so don't give up on them completely just yet.... but maybe get a Plan B in place too, just in case. Think about doing an internship instead, if you can find one. Sometimes the application dates are later and they can lead to a full time role if you do a good job.