Graduating in 2021
Employers and recruitment – what we know so far

Many employers are considering their recruitment needs in the current circumstances and there are numerous still recruiting graduate roles.

  • Employers still want to hire graduates for the long term, not just the short term, and so it will take a lot to make them change those plans.
  • Employers have been reorganising their recruitment, shifting to phone and digital recruitment selection processes from online assessment centres to virtual interviews.
  • Around a quarter of larger graduate employers say that they will be recruiting less graduates, but we don’t know what the situation will be with small to medium sized enterprises (SME’s) just yet.
  • Some of these issues will be short-term in nature, but there may also be long-term implications.
  • Due to the transferable skills you gain from your studies, you may discover that there is a much wider range of options open to you than you may first appreciate. Large numbers of professional-level vacancies (currently around 70%) are open to graduates of any degree discipline, so exploring broader opportunities in the short term could be a good strategy in a more challenging economic environment.

12 things to prepare for your next move

1. Visit the NextStep Support website for a wealth of material on graduate recruitment, news and employer updates in the current COVID-19 crisis.

2. Use our CV Builder to ensure your skills and achievements do you justice or get feedback on one you’ve written before by using CV 360. Or, why not work on creating an eye-catching personal statement to stand out from the crowd here on the Prospects website.

3. Launch your career using LinkedIn. Update your LinkedIn profile with our interactive LinkedIn training platform. Or alternatively update your skills and experience with LinkedIn Learning a free resource whilst you still have a University of Plymouth email address.

4. Prepare for a phone interview, a video interview or improve your performance with our online aptitude tests.

5. Book yourself into one of our skills webinars. The following titles will become a regular feature throughout the coming months: graduate recruitment in a time of crisis, job search techniques in a turbulent market, LinkedIn masterclass, phone and video interviews, remaining positive and developing resilience, finding part-time work and considering postgraduate study.

6. Completely unsure of your next move? Explore what can I do with my degree? and hundreds of career pathways video profiles offering first-hand accounts from employees in different sectors. Also visit TargetJobs for sector and industry insights.

7. In addition to the MyCareer digital careers resources we also recommend Prospects and TargetJobs as excellent employability information websites. You may also like to look at Gradsouthwest and Unlocking Potential for further graduate opportunities in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Avon. We have created a helpful guide to the SW graduate labour market and also a link to a directory of larger firms with graduate recruitment schemes in the SW.

8. You are very welcome to book an appointment with us by calling +44 1752 587456 or book online at MyCareer. We can explore your options or help you with your decision-making.

9. Try to keep a positive mind-set and take a broader perspective on the current situation. Next Step Support have created a whole raft of resources offering support for graduates who may be feeling overwhelmed at this moment in time.

10. Consider a seemingly unrelated job area in order to gain relevant skills and experience for your CV, for example working in the care sector, volunteering for a charity or even assisting farms with this year’s harvest. Small steps may lead to long term goals. Have a look at our jobs board for the latest vacancies. You can find local and national volunteering opportunities at

11. Consider postgraduate study as an opportunity to gain further qualifications. Did you know that Plymouth is offering a 20% alumni discount to finalists for many courses? We have created an informative webpage for anyone considering further study highlighting good sources of information or alternatively get in touch to make an appointment.

12. Consider starting your own business by exploring our self-employment resources. For students and graduates in university, entrepreneurship may seem more daunting than ever, yet ideas are hard to kill and if you have a strong one, now may be as good a time as ever to bring it to market. There may well be opportunities currently that you could take advantage of. The Cube offers advice, funding and support to businesses, freelancers and the self-employed, with services open to students from all schools at all levels of study, as well as graduates.

Wider support available from Student Services

  • If you feel you need immediate support in relation to your mental health, please contact the Student Hub. Please call +44 1752 587676 or email  
  • Appointments can be made with counsellors and mental health workers using Zoom or via telephone. To make an appointment you will need to complete an online referral form or call the number above.
  • Togetherall is an anonymous community where members can support each other with the oversight of trained professional to keep the community safe, available 24/7.
  • SHINE offers a range of videos on YouTube about reducing stress and anxiety.
  • If you are in financial difficulty the university has a range of bursaries and awards you may be able to access.

Frequently asked questions

Q. Does the Careers Service have resources that I can access online?

A. Yes, there is a wide range of employability resources that are freely accessible via our website. Visit MyCareer and search for resources on industry information, career insight films, ‘What can I do with my degree?’ as well as very specific information about CVs, applications and assessment centres. We also recommend Prospects and TargetJobs as excellent careers information websites.

Q. How can I make an appointment with a careers adviser?

A. Appointments can either be booked online via MyCareer or by calling +44 1752 587456. If you have any issues with the booking system or have queries about appointments, then please email

Q. I have a quick question relating to careers advice or a job application, how can I speak to someone if the Careers Hub is not open?

A. The careers team are all currently working remotely but still able to offer a very similar level of service. Please book an advice appointment via MyCareer or call us on +44 1752 587456 (9am-5pm) then we can set this up via Skype, phone or Zoom.

Q. Can I still get feedback on my CV or application during this time?

A. Yes, we still review CVs, covering letters, application forms and personal statements. You can submit your CV for checking via our CV360 automated checking system. Alternatively, you can speak to a member of the team by booking an appointment on MyCareer. We also have many resources on making applications and writing CVs across our website (and under online tools) which may be useful to you. You may want to have a look at this content before submitting your CV or other application for review.

Q. My interview will now take place via Skype. What advice can you give me in order to prepare for this?

A. We are finding that due to the nature of the crisis lots of employers are shifting conventional recruitment to online systems. There are some very useful resources on MyCareer Digital Resources that cover online recruitment including video, Skype and phone interview. Prospects also has some excellent guidance in these areas. But remember, you need to prepare for an online interview just as much as you would for a face to face one.
Q. The company I have applied to is asking me to sit an online assessment centre. What advice can you give me to prepare for this?

A. We are finding that lots of companies are shifting their recruitment online and this includes assessment centres and psychometric testing. In MyCareer Digital Resources there are a number of very useful articles including an assessment centre tool and examples of practice tests. These will help you to prepare in advance so that when you a faced with the real thing it’s much more familiar.

Q. How do I cope with having my job offer withdrawn because of the COVID-19 crisis?

A. We have heard that some students have unfortunately had offers with employers withdrawn due to COVID-19. Please feel free to get in touch with us as soon as possible and we can discuss your options with you. In the meantime, you could have a look at these skills sessions on LinkedIn Learning on building resilience.

Q. I am looking for work in the South West. What job websites do you suggest I should look at for vacancies?

A. Begin your search using the vacancy section on MyCareer but you may also like to look at Gradsouthwest and Unlocking Potential for further opportunities in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Avon. In addition, both Indeed Jobs and Monster Jobs have location specific features.

Q. What can I do from home to develop my skills if I'm not in a job soon after graduating?

A. Have a look at the resources on LinkedIn Learning. There are masses of courses you could benefit from including management, leadership, software, IT and even public speaking. Also, explore our online career tools to develop career management skills such as planning you career, job hunting skills and interview training.

Q. What kind of temporary work can I do right now and how will it help in my career development?

A. During this unprecedented time, there are a large volume of new temporary jobs opportunities in retail, warehouse, call centres and care work. For example, supermarkets who are dealing with the increased demand. Many are recruiting store assistants, online shopping packers, shelf stackers and delivery drivers. It is a fast-moving situation so we would advise you to look online for the major supermarkets who are mainly updating their websites to show current opportunities in your area. If you can’t find it online, it’s worth a visit to your local supermarkets (if you are able to and current guidelines allow this) to enquire about current opportunities. Take your passport and NI number with you in case they are able to progress an application there and then. You will be able to showcase a range of skills and qualities from working in these areas – such as flexibility, working under pressure, learning quickly, and you’ll get a unique insight into management and leadership within the organisation at such an interesting and challenging time.

Q. What can I do with my degree?

A. This is a common question we get asked a lot. Here on the Prospects website are some very helpful guides on 'What I can do with my degree?' It suggests jobs and careers directly related to you subject and others that are partially related.

Q. I don’t want to do anything related to my degree, what can I do?

A. This is a very common question that we get asked, where someone has studied a subject for three years and has decided as a result that they want to do some completely different. To begin with you could explore job profiles on Prospects or you could have a look at the career insight videos on MyCareer Digital Resources. If you are still stuck please do book an appointment with us.

Q. Should I still apply for graduate roles?

A. Yes. Do not let the current situation stop you from applying. Employers will be thinking about the long term, as well as the short term. Whilst there is uncertainty, and some sectors will be more affected than others, organisations will be looking to establish ‘business as normal’ as quickly as possible. You can expect the process to take longer than usual and the recruitment process to look different but using this time productively now will give you an edge when normality resumes.

Q. I have already applied, but I am just not hearing back. What should I do?

A. Be patient. If you are waiting to hear back from an employer(s) about a role(s) that you have applied for, bear in mind that this process may take longer than usual. Employers will be thinking about the best way to move forward but, if you are yet to receive any communication, you may wish to reach out to them and ask for an update. Remember to be polite, understanding and don’t expect an immediate response.

Considering further study

Undertaking postgraduate study could give you the competitive edge in a turbulent job market, along with providing you with the opportunity to specialise in your chosen field.

Discover different types of postgraduate study and factors to consider in order for you to decide if postgraduate study is right for you. Also as a finalist from the University of Plymouth, you may be entitled to our alumni 20% discount.

Find out more about further study

Graduate Outcomes

The Graduate Outcomes survey is the biggest annual social survey in the UK. The survey is important because your opinions will help current and future students gain an insight into career destinations and development and the University to shape our programmes for students who are following in your footsteps. The survey contacts graduates:

  • 15 months after graduation,
  • by email or phone,
  • to learn about your activities and views.

Please keep your details up to date and respond if HESA contacts you to complete the survey.

Next Step support website 

NextStep Support is an open collaboration between a number of organisations that provide support and services to students. 

Visit the NextStep Support website for a wealth of material on graduate recruitment, news and employer updates in the current COVID-19 crisis.

Don’t miss out, follow us on social media