Graduate Schemes Vs SME’s


Decisions decisions. You’ve just graduated or you will be in the next coming year and the pressure is on to find a “proper” job. However not that much info is given by your lecturers or tutors about what kind of organisation would benefit your future career. You’re sort of left to suss it out for yourself. So to give you a bit of a hand Talent Cupboard has come up with some trusty info and facts to help with the process.


The Graduate Scheme


  • Excellent training in your chosen industry.
  • A decent starting salary.
  • Two to three years experience.
  • You’ll be given an invaluable reference for any future roles.
  • Corporate benefits such as dental and health care.
  • There may be an opportunity to travel.
  • Its a great chance to network and gain contacts in your field.
  • Your employer will more than likely reward you with a permanent job.

There are great benefits and opportunities that will vary with each corporation, industry and location. It may sound too good to be true but there are some downsides to grad schemes to give you a more well rounded idea.


  • Applications are extremely competitive
  • The majority of grad schemes ask for a 2:1 degree and 300 UCAS points.
  • The application process is lengthy and does take its toll so it might not be suited for ever personality.
  • You will more than likely have to spend long weeks travelling to different locations of the business which doesn’t leave for much personal time.
  • Only 14 per cent of people who apply are offered a place on a grad scheme.

So a graduate scheme sounds like right up your street? Here’s some helpful info on how to get your applications in.

  • Most applications take place between September and January with actual placements starting the next September after you graduate.
  • There are dedicated websites that will show grad scheme opportunities for you to filter through, but your best bet is to search through some companies that you’d like to work for and apply through their careers site. Maybe even drop them an email to gain some more info.
  • Don’t miss the deadlines!

shocked jim

So what if a grad scheme doesn’t peak your interest or you’ve missed the most recent deadlines? Welcome to the world of SME’s!

SM-huh? An SME is a Small Medium Enterprise and is defined as an organisation with 250 employee’s or less and they offer countless opportunities for graduates.


  • SME’s count for 99.9 per cent of all UK private sector businesses. There are thousands of them, already strengthening your chance of gaining employment.
  • SME’s also offer great internship opportunities so if you’re still a student or just want to pad out your CV, SME’s are great for hands on experience.
  • You’ll be given greater responsibility within your job role.
  • You’ll move up the ranks quickly.
  • Everything you do effects the success of the business directly, giving you a real sense of achievement when working on a project.
  • Starting your career in smaller firms will give you the experience you need to move up into the larger corporations.
  • Flat hierarchies mean that you’ll work with a bunch of cool people who all learn from each other.


  • Lower salary is, unfortunately, the price for more experience and greater responsibility.
  • The ceiling is lower, while you might move up through the ranks quickly, ultimately there will be a point where you simply can’t reach any higher and may have to consider moving on.
  • SME’s are more directly effected by the economy compared to larger corporations, which may mean that they could close down.

If an SME sounds like your kind of area then here’s some tips on applying:

  • They tend to advertise for applicants as and when roles need filling.
  • Sign up to some graduate recruitment sites such as Talent Cupboard, (you can even maintain your own digital CV with us).
  • Always keep an eye out with your university job shop or job board, you never know when an opportunity is coming your way!

john snow is ready




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About Author

Phoebe is the Marketing Manager of Talent Cupboard. A recent graduate, she is passionate about blogging and enhancing the employability of young people.