Am I Too Old to Apply for a Graduate Job?

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Graduate jobs; you’ve seen them advertised online, they sound like a great starting point but the only problem is your age. Who do you picture working within graduate roles? Fresh-faced 21-year-olds who have just graduated and are ready to take on their first job? While this can be the case, don’t write yourself off. If you often wonder “Am I too old to apply for a graduate job?”, we’re here to clear things up.

First and foremost a graduate job is essentially an entry level role. Companies are looking for employees that they can train and develop in line with the way their business operates. The reason employers tend to stipulate that these types of roles are to be filled by graduates is because they will, presumably, have a reasonable level of intelligence and can bring some great transferable skills with them.

Therefore, when it comes to graduate jobs, it’s less about age and more about your skills and your level of experience.

Why apply for a graduate job?

First things first, a graduate job differs to a graduate scheme. Graduate schemes are extremely competitive, rigid and impersonal training programmes, usually offered by larger businesses. These are great ways to break out into a particular industry, or get your foot in the door of a big corporation. However, they have their drawbacks. Some people struggle with these schemes because it’s very hard to tailor them to every individual – everyone works and learns differently. Additionally, there can often be lots of graduates vying for the same position at the end of the scheme. Many graduates, on completion of their grad scheme, have found themselves back at square one as there simply wasn’t a position available for them.

On the other hand, graduate jobs can offer much better prospects. These tend to be with smaller businesses and allow you to hit the ground running. Your training and development, while it’s up to you to drive it, is much more tailored and personal. You can move forward much more quickly and, as long as you prove yourself, it’s your job for the long haul! These types of roles aren’t as focused on ticking boxes or fighting for survival, but on working hard, gaining industry knowledge and growing as a professional.

Can I apply for a graduate job?

If you think about it, anyone CAN apply for a graduate job, but it’s more important to decide whether you SHOULD. So, what type of person would benefit from a graduate job?

At the risk of pointing out the obvious, the first type of person is the recent graduate. You may have decided that corporate graduate schemes aren’t for you or you may still be weighing up your options. Whatever your situation, if you’re newly graduated and ready to embark on your career, a graduate job is a great place to start. You will receive in-depth training and be given to opportunity to prove yourself. There is usually scope for fast progression, too!

What if you’re not a fresh grad? Don’t worry. If you took time out to travel the world, went full-time at your part-time job or got stuck in a couple of dead-end roles after university, it doesn’t mean that you’ve missed your chance. Most businesses will consider older graduates for their entry-level roles and others will actually prefer them. You’ve got all the same skills and accolades as a new graduate, but you’ve gained some great life experience and have a more mature head on your shoulders. Companies who hire older graduates tend to find that they are ready to work hard and are more focused, as they’ve taken their time to carefully choose their career path.

Why do I keep getting rejected?

If you’re a more recent graduate and you’re being rejected for graduate jobs, remember that these types of roles are highly sought after. They may not be as cut-throat as graduate schemes, but competition is still fierce. If your applications aren’t striking the right notes, maybe it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Make sure that your CV is the best it can be, brush up on your interview techniques and, if necessary, give your skills a boost.

For older graduates, it may be a little more complex to pinpoint why you are getting rejections. If you’ve followed the above advice for new graduates and still no luck, maybe you’re not the right fit for a graduate job. Don’t panic, this doesn’t mean that you’re a lost cause! Far from it, it seems a little cliché but you simply could have too much experience. If you have quite a few different jobs on your CV and a relatively long work history, then maybe a graduate job isn’t the best fit. Remember, these are entry level jobs and employers are looking for someone who is comparatively new to working life. It may be worth applying for slightly more senior roles, or if you’re trying to break out into a new industry, trainee jobs might be the best way forward.

What it all comes down to is finding the right kind of job for your level of experience, whether you have a little or a lot, there is a job out there for you. The lesson to be learned is: don’t let your age hold you back!

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