How do I get a graduate job in a commercial, management or business function?
The recruitment processes for these jobs will vary according to the sector, but you should expect a multi-stage process involving the following:
I want to work in business or in management after graduating from university. What type of jobs are available?
The terms ‘management and business’ cover a huge range of job titles, job functions and specialisms.
- Broadly speaking, a business job is one that has a commercial function or supports an organisation to complete its operational work. You can either seek graduate employment within an individual commercial function (such as HR, finance, sales and marketing/PR/corporate communications) or join a more general commercial graduate programme. This typically rotates its graduates around different business functions such as corporate governance or HR, as well as allowing them to specialise in a specific business role. Read our business graduate jobs, schemes and roles explained feature for more information on typical business graduate jobs and schemes.
- A huge range of employers (including those in retail, retail banking, hospitality, logistics and the public service) hire trainee managers. They then train up these graduates into a people management and/or project management role within their business – take a look at some of the most common industries in which you can find a graduate management role. You might apply directly for a trainee manager vacancy or join a graduate leadership programme.
Some of the most popular graduate employers, as voted for by students and appear in The Guardian UK 300, that typically offer commercial and business graduate schemes include:
- Cancer Research UK
- The NHS
- Jaguar Land Rover
- British Airways
Graduate jobs v. graduate schemes: which are the most plentiful in management and business?
The majority of graduate opportunities are in the form of a formal graduate schemes, but there are some individual entry-level roles available.
What are the deadlines for graduate jobs in the commercial and management worlds?
Application deadlines do vary according to the conventions in the sector within which the business falls: most banks, for example, will have very early (September/October) deadlines, while some IT companies accept applications all you around. However, the vast majority of jobs will close in the autumn term, so don’t delay in starting your applications.
Do I need to do a business degree to get a business or management job?
Not always. Some general business or corporate graduate schemes are open to graduates with any degree subject, as long as you have a good level of numerical ability, but others will require you to have a business, economics, marketing or related degree. If you have done a related degree and the scheme includes rotations, it might be a good idea to highlight relevant modules.
Most general trainee management schemes will accept degree of any discipline, but it does vary hugely according to the sector and the employer. If you are interested in being a project manager in the construction industry, for example, employers prefer you to have a construction-related degree.
Whatever your subject, a 2.1 is usually a minimum requirement, but academic requirements will vary according to the sector.
What skills do I need to get an entry-level role as a manager or on a commercial graduate scheme?
To succeed in a business or management role, you will need, among other qualities:
- A highly developed sense of commercial awareness – how commercial or industry issues affect the business’ bottom line or competitiveness, for example
- Being comfortable with analysing numbers and data
- A good understanding of the needs of clients, customers or end-users
- Leadership skills, including the ability to inspire and motivate teams
- Emotional intelligence
- Teamworking skills
- The ability to see the wider context but focus on the details when necessary
- Organisation, time management and prioritising skills
- Good report-writing skills
Discover the skills that trainee managers, in particular, need in order to impress.
What work experience will help me to get a job in business or management?
Getting a business or management internship or placement will be hugely beneficial, but any experience you have gained in a commercial environment (from retail to an office) will be advantageous. Your recruiters will want to see evidence that you understand the realities of running a business and making commercial decisions: that you can balance competing priorities, such as ensuring great customer service or meeting deadlines while ensuring that employees are properly supported.
If you are going for a management job and have experience of being on the front line (for example, working as a retail assistant during the holidays if you are going for a store management training programme), this will make you stand out because recruiters will know that you understand the challenges of the work completed by your team.
Your extracurricular activities can enhance your application, too. Being a treasurer or publicity officer on a student society will make you stand out, but any experience you have of working with and motivating others on a project will show that you have developed the skills recruiters want for business and management jobs. On your CV, stress the numerical results of your actions: if you raised money for charity, for example, say whether you met your target and express the figures in whichever types of numbers are most impressive (for example, £s or percentages).
What is it like to work in business or management?
This completely varies according to the role, the employer and the sector. However, trainee managers are likely to split their time between directly managing staff - whether that involves being on the shopfloor, in the restaurant, on a construction site or in a warehouse - and being in an office, inputting reports and data. If you join a business graduate scheme, you may rotate around different business functions or you may be given a specific project to work on. Business roles usually involve a lot of interaction with professionals, especially front line staff.
Business and management graduate schemes usually include opportunities for further learning or qualifications and the opportunity to work on a corporate social responsibility project: find out more here.